CALUMET CITY | Two Thornton Fractional North High School students have an interesting summer ahead of them. By the time they return to school in the fall as sophomores, they will have traveled halfway around the world.
Miranda Kelly and James Evans will travel with 18 other teens to China during summer break, courtesy of the Chicago Urban League.
Scheduled to leave from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on June 22, the two will be in China for 14 days.
The Urban League is working with the China/United States Exchange Foundation to arrange for the trip for students who otherwise would not have a chance to travel abroad.
Kelly and Evans have been participating for two months in special classes organized by the Urban League to give them some understanding of Chinese history and culture along with bits of the language.
Neither considers themselves fluent, but say they know basic phrases.
“I know enough to keep myself out of trouble,” Kelly said.
“We’ve been given vocabulary lists,” Evans said. “We’re trying to learn basic phrases.”
The group will visit high schools in Beijing and Shanghai, and also will get a chance to visit with Chinese families in their homes.
They have also been promised the chance to see such sights as the Forbidden City imperial palace, although both say they’re most looking forward to a chance to see the Great Wall, much of which dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries.
The trip’s costs are being covered by the Urban League, which raised $17,815 this spring to pay for the trip for all 20 students.
Kelly and Evans said they will be given an allowance to provide some pocket money. They said they planned to use the money to buy souvenirs.
Kelly said she’d like to come back with some sort of robe or gown, while Evans said he'll likely buy a fan or a hat. He said his family has given him a list of items they’d like to get, particularly electronics.
“It seems the items are cheaper if we can buy them there,” he said.
The upcoming trip has accomplished one other goal, it has put the concept of foreign travel into the minds of both.
Evans, who’d like to write novels, says he’d like to visit France and Spain, and hopes his future writing is inspired someday by his China visit.
Kelly, an aspiring biochemical engineer, recites Spain, Germany and Fiji as places she’d like to visit someday.
“I’d like it if I could make friends who last for many years,” she said.