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Chinese Olympians visit, talk sports and culture with students

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Olympians spoke with Chinese students in small groups during class. “I really enjoy the athletes visiting the school and being able to talk with someone who is from the same place that I am from is very nice,” US Chinese teacher Tian Wang said.

Chinese students at SPA practice speaking most days, but this week, they were fortunate enough to speak with Olympians. For the past four years Saint Paul Academy has been fortunate enough to have a group of World Class athletes who have been able to compete at the highest level in the world. The athletes are in Minnesota for 10 months, or one academic year, studying at the school of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota. During this time they take a trip to SPA where they see what middle and high school life is like in the United States.

Wen Tong is an athlete who obtained a gold medal in Judo during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics. “I started practicing Judo when I was 13 years old.” says Wen Tong. “I really liked the Olympics and have always loved Judo. Being in the Beijing Olympics was exciting because I was able to compete near my hometown,” she said. “I grew up and still live in TianJing which is near Beijing.”

The Olympics seemed to be a big point in her life: just being able to compete, let alone win the entire competition.

“I love the atmosphere surrounding Judo and the constant competition,” Wen said.

She no longer competes in Judo, but because of her love for the sport she has decided to coach judo as a way to stay connected to the sport. All the athletes from China showed their interest in Minnesota and the USA and Upper school Chinese teacher Tian Wang told students more about this.

The school life in America is very different than in China and the athletes are very interested in the way that classes work… and the food.”

— US Chinese teacher Tian Wang

“I really enjoy the athletes visiting the school and being able to talk with someone who is from the same place that I am from is very nice,” Wang said. “The school life in America is very different than in China and the athletes are very interested in the way that classes work… and the food,” Wang said.

The athletes coming to SPA allows students to talk with them and learn about what their life is like. The athletes were welcomed in on Dec. 7 by playing floor hockey with students during X Period.

Sophomore, Thomas Kuriscak played in this game: “I talked to one man who was a race walker, and learned all about him. I was surprised that I was able to talk to someone that doesn’t speak the same language as I do fluently and still gain a lot of interesting information,” he said.

The Chinese athletes visited many of the Upper and Middle School classes during the day where the students could tell the athletes about their life as well as learn a lot about the lives of the athletes. “I think that the athletes coming to SPA helps my students to practice how to speak clearly to a native speaker that they don’t know,” Wang said.

Quotes from Chinese athletes were translated by Will Shavee

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