There's a new kid in town. Well, actually eight new kids.
On Monday, eight students and three teachers were welcomed into the Medfield school system as part of a three-week exchange program between Medfield and its sister city Bengbu, China.
They arrived late last week and will be fully engrossed in Medfield living for the next three weeks. They will stay with host families, take classes in the schools and provide tutoring to Medfield students taking Mandarin, participate in extra-curricular activities, and visit sites around the town and state to help them learn first-hand about life in America.
The purpose of the exchange program, said Superintendent of Medfield Public Schools Bob Maguire as he introduced the exchange students to the student body on Monday, is to enhance the learning experience of Medfield students.
"Medfield is a pretty small place; it's a place where many of us are very similar," he said to the middle school 8th graders and MHS students taking Mandarin. "This is an effort to expand the opportunities for you as students to learn languages...Opening your eyes to the rest of the world is a very, very important thing for us to do."
Maguire encouraged Medfield students to take the opportunity to get to know the exchange students and teachers while they are visiting.
Monday's assembly started with the MHS band performing both the American and Chinese national anthems and included a presentation of gifts from the town of Medfield to the city of Bengbu, a slideshow created by Blake students and translated into Mandarin for the event, a multi-lingual presentation from the Bengbu teachers, as well as a welcome by Blake principal Nat Vaughn and teacher Maura Batts (who traveled to Bengbu with Medfield students last year).
MHS principal Robert Parga could not attend the assembly because -- as part of a grant to expand the language program in the Medfield schools -- he was at a conference in Shanghai after which he was traveling to Bengbu.
"It's clear that we've created a very strong bridge that's allowed our two communities to connect," said Batts.
Also included in the assembly were the three full-year high school exchange students from Bengbu, past and present host families, and past Medfield exchange students. Maguire said this was a way of building a support network for the Medfield/Bengbu community.