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Net gains in friendship achieved through games

By RENA LI in Los Angeles | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-02-20 09:42

Players from the Tsinghua University High School basketball team play against a team from Duarte High School on Feb 2 in Los Angeles. RENA LI/CHINA DAILY

A high school basketball team from China recently traveled to Los Angeles to play with local teams — both sides came away impressed with the competition and appreciated the cultural exchange.

Players from the Tsinghua University High School, or TUHS, basketball team visited Southern California earlier this month to engage in several friendly matches with their counterparts in the United States.

Following two-hour-long competitions between the TUHS and Duarte High School, or DHS, Shakhan Lewis, coach of the DHS girls' basketball team, said she was deeply impressed by the basketball skills demonstrated by the Chinese students.

"They played amazing; they are an excellent team. Thanks for playing with us," she said.

Kevin Morris, administrative director of the Duarte Unified School District, who oversees the international student exchange program, said that the exchange was a "great opportunity" for students from both sides to collaborate and share their cultures.

Morris has visited Chinese cities and schools over the last 10 years. In 2018, he led the girls' basketball team on an exchange tour to China, spanning 12 days and visited Wenzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.

"It was a good experience for our kids. Our parents and our students said it was the best trip they'd ever taken. You know, the Chinese culture is very hospitable, and they really took care of our kids. It was a really good experience," said Morris.

Wang Zeqi, a coach of the TUHS basketball team, said he and the team have benefited a lot from competing with US teams.

"We experienced their athletic talent, sportsmanship, and learned about the sports industry. These experiences significantly contributed to our improvement," said Wang, adding that the team has won numerous high school championships.

In recent years, several members of the school's boys' and girls' basketball teams have pursued opportunities in the US for studies and professional basketball. Notable players such as Han Xu, Li Yongwei and others have represented their schools and country on the international stage.

Bai Xuefeng, TUHS vice-principal, said the school remains committed to fostering the exchange of youth basketball.

"I hope to see more American teenagers visit China in the future, experiencing its richness firsthand, showcasing China's positive image and cultural diversity, and nurturing additional Chinese cultural ambassadors and advocates," Bai said.

The TUHS is not the only school supporting exchanges among young people.

On Feb 6, students from the art troupe of the Beijing-based High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China, or RDFZ, also charmed their audience at the International Studies Learning Center, or ISLC, in Los Angeles, with dance, music and martial arts.

Noticing that the center's logo is a dragon, a symbol of China, Guo Shaochun, the Chinese consul general in Los Angeles, said that while the two countries may have different interpretations of the dragon, cultural exchange has built a bridge for both peoples to better understand each other.

"The future of China-US relations lies in the youth," he said.

"I believe the performance will deepen the understanding of Chinese culture, allowing youth to appreciate the shared pursuit of artistic expression between the East and the West.

"I hope the young people of the two nations will have conversations and interactions and serve as goodwill ambassadors between our two countries and two peoples," he said.

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