The Chinese group is part of the Ivy International Education, a program that promotes educational exchange and cooperation between the United States and China. Greater Johnstown High School also recently implemented an international high school education program.
The exchange offers benefits for all students and administrators involved, district Superintendent Gerald Zahorchak said.
“We have an opportunity to experience great, real-world cultural exchange,” he said. “We get to exchange language and understand each other. We get to challenge ourselves as we challenge our new students from China to reach beyond academically and achievement-wise.”
The Chinese student visitors plan to attend high school in the United States, some at area high schools, including Johnstown, this fall.
“Our Chinese visitors and students will have an opportunity to see more than just an academic life,” Zahorchak said. “They’ll see extracurricular activities and have opportunities for leadership. They’ll be able to participate in hands-on technology, engineering or trades. They’ll get to be involved in community life with organizations like the Key Club or the Interact Club.”
Johnstown High School Principal Michael Vuckovich and district Federal Programs Coordinator Raymond Arcurio visited China for a week in April to set the foundation for this week’s visit by the Chinese students and principals.
The group spent the evening of July 9 at the Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center in Cambria City, touring the historic venue and taking in a movie about steelmaking. The group was at Johnstown High School each day during the week and also had plans to visit regional colleges and universities.
Dr. William Pan, a native of China who is instrumental in the Ivy International Education program, said the program is growing.
Johnstown’s first brush with Ivy International was in 2001 when Senator John Wozniak led a delegation to China. Ivy International focused primarily on U.S. colleges early in its existence, but now also has ties with American high schools.
“We expanded our program to high schools, and we have a very good relationship with Johnstown High School,” Pan said. “Many high schools in China want to be a sister school of Johnstown High School. As a result, they sent a group here to Johnstown first.”
Pan said the Chinese delegation’s visit might have both an educational and economic impact in Johnstown and the surrounding region. The group was set to return to China last Sunday morning. “This is history. This is a milestone,” Pan said. “This will open a new page of international education in Johnstown. I like Johnstown very much. That’s why I will bring more Chinese students and teachers to Johnstown.
“Next, we will bring some business leaders to Johnstown, too,” Pan said, adding that, in August, about 65 Chinese business leaders will visit the city.