The issues they tackled ranged from education to agriculture to manufacturing, with one group proposing an interactive website to help users better understand the two cultures, and another group suggesting a program that connects Chinese farmers to updated technology and efficient farming methods.
The local business leaders who listened to their pitches were impressed. Bonnie Girard, President of China Channel Limited, congratulated the students, especially the Chinese visitors, on their performances.
“You have done a very good job doing a presentation in a language not your own, in front of a large audience, after being here a week,” she said.
The participating students were surprised themselves at how much they were able to create and collaborate on in such a short window of time.
“By our second or third session working together, the ideas started flowing,” said Collegiate senior Jake Johnston, whose team presented a solution to China’s contaminated baby formula problem.
During IEL - Asia, which began on Jan. 18, participants from Collegiate and from the Beijing New Oriental Foreign Language School examined the economic ties between the U.S. and China, while also exploring the two nations’ current political, cultural and ethical issues.
As part of their weeklong stay, students worked in five teams and participated in the design thinking process to develop their ideas to solve to economic problems facing China and the U.S.
In addition to today’s presentations,the students took part in a forum on Monday with Collegiate students enrolled in AP Chinese and AP Environmental Science to discuss environmental issues impacting both countries.
Sitting in a circle in Craigie Board Room, Collegiate senior Will Woods began the discussion with questions about pollution and its impact in China. Shirley Cai, a student from China, told the group how her father used to be able to drink from the lakes and see stars in the sky.
“I’d like to see that in my future,” she said.
Staying with Collegiate host families gave the students a true American experience as they watched Cougar basketball games, visited area universities and took a quick trip to Washington, D.C. The Chinese students also attended various Chinese language classes and a Lower School assembly during which Chinese teacher Xin-Yi Fergusson and Lower School Head Librarian Allison Williams explained the Chinese New Year holiday to JK-4th Grade students by reading Chelsea’s Chinese New Year by Lisa Bullard.
As the students from China prepare to return home tomorrow, Collegiate’s 11 IEL-Asia delegates are preparing to visit their school for a week in mid-March.