Local partners support Chinatown trip for Muscatine students

MUSCATINE, Iowa–As Muscatine Community School District’s Chinese language program continues to grow, students have a new component to look forward to, a field trip to Chicago’s Chinatown. With the support of Sarah Lande’s Friendship Education Charitable Fund and Global Education at the Stanley Center, students in eighth grade, as well as juniors and seniors in high school will take their first trip to Chinatown Oct. 27.

In 1985, Sarah Lande, a Muscatine resident participating on the Iowa Sister State’s Board, helped facilitate the visit of several young Chinese officials to Muscatine, including Xi Jinping, now China’s president. When he returned to Muscatine in 2012, Lande again helped with the visit. She then went on to write the book “‘Old Friends’: The Xi Jinping-Iowa Story,” which recounts the story of the friendships that formed between Jinping and the Iowa residents he met on his trip. All of the funds from the books sales go into the Friendship Education Charitable Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine.

When Lande heard about the proposed fieldtrip to Chinatown, she knew she wanted to support it using the Friendship Education Charitable Fund. “It’s just what we hoped would come from our initial meetings with Xi Jinping in 1985 and 2021,” she said. “The revenue from selling the book will go to thinks like helping the Chinese people go to Chinatown, and we hope to send them to China too soon.”

Global Education also lent their support to the new endeavor, helping line up educational tours for the student. On the day students visit Chinatown, they will pay a visit to the Chinese American Museum of Chicago and then take a food tour of Chinatown, stopping at several different restaurants to sample different Chinese cuisines. While in Chinatown, students may also have the opportunity to practice their Chinese with native speakers. “Our part is to build knowledge of world culture through experiences like this,” added Global Education at the Stanley Center Program Officer Krista Regennitter.

As students and chaperones prepare for this first fieldtrip to Chinatown, Chinese teacher Heidi Kuo anticipates all involved will have an informative and enjoyable experience. “I am super, super excited to have them learn Chinese,” she beamed. “We’re really happy to have Sarah Lande support us and make this trip possible.”

Oct. 6, Lande officially presented a check from the Friendship Education Charitable Fund to Kuo and a group of her students at Muscatine High School. A fun filled event, Lande gave the class a copy of “‘Old Friends’: The Xi Jinping-Iowa Story,” to help them understand Muscatine’s history of citizen diplomacy with China. She also invited them to Muscatine Community College’s China Town Hall in mid-October, which will include former Iowa Governor and Ambassador to China Terry Branstad.

For their part, the students and Kuo presented Lande with one of their Chinese Club shirts and also demonstrated some of their language skills to her, which she quite enjoyed. “One of the great things of this afternoon is getting to know this teacher and these students,” she observed.