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From Dalian to Fort Wayne: Exchange program provides new experiences for Chinese students, Concordia community

Winter 2018 Cadets Magazine
From Joshua D. Sommermeyer, Assistant Head of School

It has been a whirlwind first few months at Concordia for our newest Cadets from our partner school, Concordia Dalian International High School, in Dalian, China. Ten students (four juniors and six seniors) joined us this fall and have been eagerly getting involved in the Concordia community. 

When we initially put this program together we were excited to introduce and to integrate these students into the array of great programs, host families, and community around Concordia. Little did we know how much impact they would have on us! While their core academic pursuits and accomplishments have been outstanding, it is the other ways they are contributing that have been so impressive.

So what have these Cadets been doing? 

In general, the students are getting involved in all aspects of Concordia from fine arts to athletics to drama to computer science and JROTC. These students have won awards for their drama contributions, played on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium with the Marching Cadets, sang in concerts and local Lutheran churches as a part of Concordia Sunday events with the choir, visited the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter with theology classes, and volunteered at community events like the Veterans Day Parade and the Johnny Appleseed Festival with JROTC. A couple of them have even participated in our athletic programs! 

Many of them got a chance to see a sitting President of the United States speak at the Memorial Coliseum with their host families. Some of them even got together (with the help of some other CLHS students) and created a team to compete in our annual intramural volleyball league. 

All of this started at the end of July with 20 hours or so of travel and flights from China; boarding a bus in Chicago and meeting their host families for the first time in the parking lot of CLHS. 

We cannot say THANK YOU enough to the Smith, Dolde, Niedermeyer, Cheeseborough, Booth, Habegger and Gardner families who are hosting these students for their year here at Concordia and for the countless others that prayerfully considered hosting. These families are making a huge difference in the lives of these students. 

From doctors appointments, to transporting to/from rehearsals and practices, to birthday parties, as well as introducing them to Christian family life in Fort Wayne, these people have graciously opened their homes and lives to these students. It is great hearing stories about cultural exchanges like cooking and shopping in the local Asian markets or playing music together as a family. More recently the students are learning about Christmas and Thanksgiving traditions. One student was perplexed at why we start preparing for Christmas on November 1!

It is safe to say that these students are not only being shown an amazing Christ-centered experience here at Concordia, but they themselves and as a group are having a profound positive impact on the Concordia community.