Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of short bios introducing foreign exchange students currently enrolled at RCHS.
For many teenagers, leaving their home and traveling half way across the world to go to a foreign school without any family members for an entire year might seem daunting. Keting Li, 17, said he is looking forward such a challenge.
Li is from Shenyang, China, the capital and largest city of China’s northeast Liaoning Province. The change from his hometown to rural Indiana has come with some adjustments on the teenager’s part.
“I miss seeing Chinese people and talking Chinese (my native language). Here all I see is a lot of corn and bean fields,” he said with a laugh.
He also admitted he misses his parents and his 2-year-old sister a little more than he thought he would. He added that weekly he does get to video chat with them, but as expected, it is still not quite the same.
Although he will call Rushville home for the 2019-20 school year, this is not Li’s first trip to America. He had visited and traveled up and down the west coast of California as well as been to New York City on a previous trip to the U.S.A. The teenager is well traveled for his years, having also been to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Korea in his young lifetime.
Keting is the eldest of two children of Guo Kai Li and Yun Li. He has kept busy since beginning his junior year locally and is currently a team manager for the Lions football team and hopes to fill the same capacity for the Lions basketball team later in the school year.
When asked about his country’s educational system, Keting said that what compares to our junior high is three years in instead of two in America and China’s high school is also three years instead of four locally.
He said that he has been taking English since in the sixth grade although it is a language only spoken in class and not out in public much in his country. He said knowing the words is not the same speaking English now on a daily basis. He said he has had some difficulty in translation.
For example, he spoke of his trip to McDonald’s and all he knew how to order was chicken nuggets. When asked what kind of sauce he wanted with them, the translation was lost to him, “I didn’t understand what sauce meant and I repeated four, or six piece 10 piece.” With a laugh and some help with the translation and meaning, he said he finally got what he wanted.
His diet has changed since he arrived a few months ago and he said had a great time recently when he visited an international grocery in Indianapolis and purchased food he is more accustom to eating. According to Li, he does not really care for all of the fast food choices here and misses the more traditional food choices he is familiar with.
In China, Keting attends a small private international high school and said RCHS is very large compared the school he came from.
Once his year abroad as an exchange student is complete, Li will return to China for his final year of high school and plans to return to America to attend college, with hopes of becoming a commercial pilot.
Outside of school, the young man likes music, American football, swimming and being sociable.
During his short stay, he has been to his first American baseball game, and a Colts football game. He said he is familiar with American football and the rules of the game, but that is not the same case for baseball.
“I watched the game, but really did not know what was happening. I did not understand the rules. There are not many where I am from in China that play baseball,” Li said.
There are a number of other outings planned throughout the year to give Li and the other exchange students a glimpse of American life.