USA-China Sister Schools Association is a non-profit organization that provides one-stop service in creating and maintaining sister school partnerships between U.S. and Chinese schools.
As the only organization of its kind in the Washington metropolitan area, we have been dedicated to connecting students, teaching staff and administrators of K-12 schools in the U.S. and China since our founding in 1992.
Over the past two decades, we have witnessed the creation and execution of vibrant exchange programs between more than 20 sister school partnerships. These partnerships spread out in states like Maryland, Virginia, Wisconsin and Kansas and are continuing to expand to other parts of the country.
Given the fact that Sino-American relationship is one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships, we believe that interpersonal interaction between the youth of the two countries will greatly enhance mutual understanding, which in turn will contribute to the peace and development of the world.
We will keep connecting schools in the U.S. and China one at a time!
What Sets us Apart
• Actively involved in the whole process of creating and maintaining all sister school partnerships;
• Tailor-made exchange programs between schools in a partnership;
• Highly-rated by students, teachers, school administrators and parents involved;
• Achieved a zero-accident record over the past years;
• Made a longstanding and far-reaching impact on participating students and their families.
T: (301) 579-3275
F: (301) 515-5298
A: 2275 Research Blvd, Suite 500, Rockville MD, 20850
Sister School Partnerships
Sister school partnerships are as varied as the schools who engage in them. Bearing a nature similar to sister city partnerships, they often involve two schools signing an official sister school partnership agreement, implementing cooperative learning opportunities in academic subjects and extra-curriculum activities and promoting exchanges at the administrative and teaching level.
All parties involved in a U.S.-China sister school partnership reap benefits from it. At its core, a partnership offers participating students ample opportunities to learn about each other’s culture and people, not via social media, movies, or televisions, but through real and meaningful interaction. As a result, they gain another perspective, develop a greater appreciation for difference, and hone cross-cultural communication and diplomacy skills. Most importantly, they make lifelong friends across country borders. Schools, teachers and parents alike also benefit from an increase of cultural diversity at school and the community, new information and ways of thinking, and a deeper understanding of the importance of learning another language and culture.
More often than not, schools with initial ideas of creating a sister school partnership in China do not necessarily know where to start. At China-US Sister Schools Association, we turn ideas into reality, at minimal cost to schools. Our services include, but are limited to, matching two schools with cooperative potential and capabilities, building up initial contact between school administrators, organizing site visits by school principals, drafting and signing an agreement, designing the implementing exchange programs and visits, etc.
Once a partnership is in place, communication activities can vary in depth and width. The basic form of communication is annual exchange visits by students and chaperone teachers. Based on these visits, some partnerships extend their cooperation to academic subjects and extra-curriculum activities such as basketball, drama, literature, orchestra band, life science, etc. When opportunities present themselves, exchanges between multiple partnerships from various countries can take communication to a higher level.
Over the past two decades, the excellence of our service has enabled us to expand sister school partnerships to schools in 403, 404 and 501 school districts in Kansas, and those in the neighborhood of Washington metropolitan area such as Montgomery County and Howard County in Maryland and Fairfax County and Loudoun County in Virginia. Apart from K-12 public schools, we also serve vocational schools and special education schools.
As a member of the National Travel Association, we make an effort to ensure that all studnets traveling internationally purchase customized travel insurance. Throughout the years, we are proud of the fact that a record of zero incident has been achieved in each and every trip we organized for the students from both countries.
During these visits, guest students shadow their host students’ day at school and stay with their families. They will also take specially designed classes to learn the host country’s culture. For instance, Chinese schools may offer classes ranging from paper cutting, Taiji, dumpling making, folk dance, Opera singing, etc. Similarly, American schools will offer Model Court, pottery and other special classes to Chinese guests. Following these in-school interactions, both countries’ students will visit some of the most well-known tour sights to further experience the richness of the host country’s culture.
Communication in Academic Areas
Literature Study Tour
The literature study tour is intended to offer a cooperative learning opportunity for American and Chinese students who are interested in learning about American literature.
During the two-week tour, Chinese students will join their peers in American schools to explore the lives and works of some of the most famous american writers. In Massachusetts, for example, students will visit the Walden Pond, where one of America's most famous writers, Henry David Thoreau stayed for two years and wrote about in his master work, Walden. Five minutes to the north is Ralph Waldo Emerson House, where the American philosopher Emerson wrote his famous essays "The American Scholar" and "Self Reliance”. An equally important writer and the author of Little Woman, Louisa Alcott used to reside just a few miles away at Orchard House. En route to the New York City, students will stop by the Mark Twain House and Museum and attend a lecture on how to write a biography. The trip will culminate in the visit to the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world and the Folger Shakespeare Library located in Washington D.C.
In addition to these valuable onsite learning opportunities, students will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sit down face to face and have conversations with winners of Pulitzer Prize or Nobel Prize in Literature.
Over the course of the two weeks, both countries’ students learn, explore, travel and stay together across borders and cultures. They can reap the benefits of not only expanding the knowledge of American literature, but more importantly establishing an international friendship that will last for the rest of their lives.
Science Study Tour
The science study tour is offered to American and Chinese students who love to learn about a variety of science topics.
Chinese students will first visit their sister school in the U.S. and get to know the students, teachers and school administrators. They will then be assigned to science classes of their interest and experience the American way of learning and teaching, followed by science club activities after school. During the rest of the tour, they will attend the Park Outreach program at Living Classroom with American students, to learn about the natural world in an organized, outdoor setting. Activities include donning hip waders and exploring a local pond while learning about bio-indicators, using butterfly nets to catch and study local insects, going on a nature hike while learning to identify flora and fauna native to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, etc. They will also participate in a two-day Chesapeake Bay Watershed Project to study the ecosystem at the Bay area, explore the tidal salt marshes of the creek and learn about human being’s influence on the Bay.
With numerous joint learning opportunities, the two countries’ students learn about the nature, themselves and the culture they represent.
Communication in Extra-curriculum Activities
In partnership with Washington Wizards and the public school systems of Virginia and Maryland, we bring basketball teams of Chinese schools to the U.S. and experience American basketball competition along with great sightseeing opportunities.
Attend an American high school basketball game. Enter a tournament with a sister school team and see how your team stacks up. Have an early entry into the NBA court to get an exclusive look at game day preparations, or take a lifetime opportunity to high five the players as they enter the court for warm-ups. In between competitions, discover the best of what D.C. has to offer on a guided sightseeing tour.
We truly believe in the value of basketball exchanges between high schools from the two countries. It will not only enhance individual and team basketball skills, but more importantly make life-changing effects on participants through cross-cultural interaction.
Joint Performance - Drama, Orchestra, Symphony
For Chinese students interested in performing arts, we designed this invaluable opportunity to hone their skills, explore every facets of dramatic production, learn from recognized professional and interact their peers in the U.S.
Sponsored by Disney Performing Arts, Chinese students learn from Disney professionals through a series of workshops designed by entertainment experts and taught by Disney cast members. The workshops focus on a variety of topics and include classes such as performance lab, improvisational acting, auditions and careers: acting, etc. Then students land in Broadway and watch Lion King, one of the most popular shows in the world. Following the show is an interactive workshop at Broadway Classroom. Led by Broadway professionals and developed in accordance with the National Standards for Arts Education, this workshop is a great way to engage students in a variety of theatre disciplines and further enhance their Broadway experience. The next stop is the Steinhardt's Department of Music and Performing Arts at New York University, where students can learn about course design and explore career development opportunities for students studying performing arts.
The tour culminates in a joint performance of drama with American high schools students who possess the same interest and passion. Included in their performance was Romeo & Juliet, etc.
Apart from joint drama performance, we organized joint orchestra and symphony concerts for American and Chinese students.
Communication of School Administrators and Teachers
In a sister school partnership, school administrators have increased knowledge and first hand experience of a different education system. They also learn from their counterparts to better tackle educational challenges. Teachers are offered short-term teaching positions in their sister schools to exchange ideas and knowledge, share pedagogies and curriculum, improve proficiency in languages through added involvement in the language and culture and develop personal partnerships.
Model United Nations, known as Model UN, is a simulation of the UN General Assembly and other multilateral bodies. At Laurel International, we offer an adapted version of Model UN program for middle and high schoolers from China and America, in the hope that the two countries’ youth will gain more knowledge of the United Nations and form true friendships.
During the first two days, students step into the shoes of ambassadors from UN member states to participate in a simulated General Assembly and Security Council. With one or two student “delegates” representing a UN member state, all the “delegates” will make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the Model UN conference rules of procedure. The agenda items usually focus on current issues that are being discussed in the United Nations. Following these conferences will be a UN Knowledge Contest.
Over the past few years, participants have benefited from and enjoyed this interactive learning experience. It not only involves young people in the study and discussion of global issues, but also encourages the development of useful skills such as research, writing, public speaking, problem solving, compromise and cooperation.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Program
Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is a research and education institution at the forefront of molecular biology and genetics. It has nurtured eight Nobel Prize winners and nearly 100 Nobel Laureates have worked, visited or studied here.
In partnership with CSHL, Laurel provides a two- or three-week workshop for Chinese high schoolers interested in acquiring knowledge and skills in cutting-edge biological genetics research. During this workshop, students spend a great deal of time doing experiments in the lab under the guidance and support of teachers. They also have the opportunity to attend seminars and interact with world-renowned scientists.
The workshop fostered students’ love of science and put them on track for future study and careers in biological science.
Chinese Students Volunteering in the U.S.
During their summer or winter break, Chinese students will participate in volunteering work in America. Throughout the trip, they will obtain a real understanding of the international volunteer system and accumulate first-hand experience in doing daily volunteer work.
Most of the work is in response to the needs of local residents. For instance, students will join recovery projects to assist elderly or impoverished families to improve their lives. They will also engage in relief work to help disaster-stricken people get back on their feet. Other projects include clearing trails and removing invasive plants in select parks affiliated with the U.S. National Park Service, and maintaining public facilities in local communities. In addition, students will have the opportunity to meet with professionals from national/international organizations to further explore volunteering related topics.
Aside from doing volunteering work, students will get together with their counterparts from middle or high schools in the local community.
To date, our volunteers have extended their helping hands to people living in states like Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Michigan.
American Students Volunteering in the China
Alternatively, American studnets can take a trip to volunteer in China. One option is to take care of Giant Pandas at Ya’an Bifengxia Panda base located in the Ya’an City of Sichuan Province, the home to panda. The base covers an area of 177 acres and houses between 60-80 Giant Pandas at any given time. Under the guidance of experts from the base, volunteers will take care for pandas, prepare food, clean enclosures, and conduct observations.
Another option is to volunteer in Cang County of Hebei province and Beijing. In the first part of the trip, students will land in a local school in Cang County and offer training courses for its English teachers. Then they will transfer to Beijing, the capital city of China and continue their volunteering at the Great Wall, where they will clean graffiti and collect trash left by tourists and locals.
Chinese Culture Day at Disneyland Park
With great support from the Walt Disney World in California and Orlando, Chinese students and young artists bring highlights of the Chinese culture to life for tourists from around the world.
The two-day event kicks off with a grand parade and opening ceremony featuring exhilarating dragon and lion dances. Following the dances are the tradition and customs of Chinese art, music, sculpture, painting, calligraphy, tea ceremony, acrobatics and other performances. Masters of Beijing Opera then take center stage and perform to celebrate the Chinese Culture Day. The celebration will culminate in a parade joined by Disney’s most popular characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Cinderella, Snow White, just to name a few. In between these performances, students will meet face to face with Disney professionals and explore topics of their interest.
It is our hope that students will take this opportunity to interact with people all over the world, while using their talents to demonstrate the essence of the Chinese culture.
The Little Ambassador Program
Composed of members of newspapers, magazines and radio stations from Chinese elementary and secondary schools, the Little Ambassador program is designed to help young participants to understand the outside world, increase cross-cultural communication ability and independently explore matters of importance and interest.
Participants will receive hands-on instruction from working journalists and teachers in the areas of print, broadcast, online and photo journalism. Then they will have chances to put knowledge into practice by interviewing well known people working in a variety of fields. On their interviewee list were Ms. Elaine Lan Chao, the 24th United States Secretary of Labor, Mr. Justin Yifu Lin, former World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Ms. Anna Chennault, a leading Chinese-American activist in U.S.-Asian affairs, Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mayor of Rockville, just to name a few. Students will also attend a simulation of press conference at The National Press Club.
Support for Chinese Immersion Programs
With the expansion of Chinese immersion programs in the U.S., there has been an increasing need for schools housing such programs to build up relationships with their counterparts in China.
To satisfy such a need, we develop a series of programs under the umbrella of sister school partnerships. For example, students in a given Chinese immersion program will each be paired up with a student of the same age at their Chinese sister school. Depending on studnets’ grade level and classroom schedules, we can organize activities such as weekly pen-pal or e-pal exchanges, yearbook trading, photo exchange, culture box exchange and display, holiday and festival exchange, country collage, etc.
These are great ways to help motivate students to learn Chinese, to hear Chinese spoken in authentic contexts and to practice their own Chinese with peers of a similar age. What is more important is the cross-cultural communication ability, intercultural awareness, and tolerance for differences built acquired in this process.
Secondary School Exchange Student Program
Begun in 1949, the Secondary School Student Program is one of the oldest and most successful Exchange Visitor Programs operated by the U.S. Department of State’s Department. This program uses the J-1 visa to bring secondary school students from other countries to study in the United States at accredited public or private secondary schools for an academic semester or an academic year, while living with American host families or residing at accredited U.S. boarding schools.
We are authorized by the American Councils for International Education to bring qualified Chinese high schoolers to participate in this program. In a joint effort with Beijing United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (BJUNESCO), we have successfully brought numerous students to study in public high schools in Kansas, Maryland and Wisconsin. During their stay in America, these students integrated themselves into the host schools, host families, the community and surroundings.
Educators, employers, parents and alumni all agree that the benefits of this program reach far beyond the year or semester that a student spends in the U.S. They return to China as young adults who are more independent, competent, confident, and possess a deeper understanding of their own family and country. They also discover that the experience opens doors for many years to come, greatly enhancing educational and professional opportunities.