A History of School Exchanges Between Pasadena and Xicheng District, Beijing
There is a long history of school exchanges between Pasadena and Xicheng District. As long ago as 1998, students at Blair High School in Pasadena began communicating via e-mail with their counterparts at 161 Middle School in Xicheng District, Beijing.
Then in 2000, Richard Miyagawa from Blair High School applied for a State Department grant through the iEARN U.S.-China Youth Exchange Initiative.
The Pasadena Sister Cities Committee provided the community support needed for the application. The grant was approved in 2001 with reciprocal exchanges between the two schools to begin as early as 2003. In the meantime, in 2002, students at Blair had the opportunity to teleconference with students at 161 School as well as three other schools in Japan, Austria, and Finland.
Exchange Activities in 2004
The first group of students from 161 School in Beijing arrived for a two-week stay in January 2004. The students and their teachers stayed with local families of Blair students or with Sister City members. The group of students was led by Vice Principal Zhao Xiaomei and Zhao Qiang, head of the English Department at 161.
During their stay in Pasadena, the group visited many places of local interest—City Hall, the Rose Bowl, the Huntington, and JPL where sister city member Morris Birnbaum gave them a tour. In addition, the host families have taken students to such places as Universal City, Olvera Street, Chinatown, Old Town, Venice Beach, Las Vegas, and Glendale Galleria.
Blair Students Visit Beijing
In March of 2004, a group of nine students from Blair traveled to Beijing to visit classes at 161 School, to home stay with local families, and tour prominent cultural sites. The students were led by teachers Michelle Manzanares and Jaime Craig. The group took advantage of their time in Beijing to visit many of the cultural attractions that all tourists must see—such as the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, and the Forbidden City.
They also met with officials from the Xicheng District Foreign Affairs Office who helped with their travel arrangements while in Beijing.