To the Editor:
To all those involved in the Newtown International Center for Education (NICE) program:
Hello! My name is Kevin Rovelli, and I am a Newtown High School Class of 2011 alumnus. I participated in the NICE program as a host for two Chinese students and as a member of NHS’s first student delegation to travel to Liaocheng. I am writing this email to all of the educators involved in the NICE program to express my gratitude for their dedication and hard work that make this program a success.
I am currently a member of the Hamilton College class of 2015 with a double concentration in physics and Chinese language. As a Chinese major at Hamilton College, I am required to study abroad in Beijing for six months. I arrived in Beijing two months ago to take classes during the summer term at Associated Colleges in China (ACC). There is a three week vacation between the summer and fall terms, so I chose to take a train and visit Liaocheng for three days before touring as much of China as my wallet permitted. I stayed with my former host-brother, Zhang Hao.
After two years of seemingly random Skype calls and sparse emails, I reunited with Zhang Hao at the Liaocheng Train Station on August 17. Little did I know that my host father had contacted Liaocheng No. 3 Middle School to tell them of my arrival, so the next day, Zhang Hao and I went to the school for a formal meeting with the 2014 Liaocheng student delegation. Mr. Tian, the assistant principal of Liaocheng Middle School, warmly welcomed me and expressed his happiness at continuing the cultural exchange between Newtown and Liaocheng, even after the participating students had graduated and moved on to college. Following Mr Tian’s introduction, I answered questions pertaining to NHS as well as a typical college student’s life at Hamilton College.
Following this visit to Liaocheng Middle School, my host brother, Zhang Hao, accompanied me to Jinan (the city where Zhang Hao’s college is located), Shanghai, Hangzhou (known as one of the most beautiful cities in all of China), and Nanjing (the original southern capital of China). If I had not met Zhang Hao, these past two weeks could not have happened.
I would like to personally thank everyone involved in the NICE program for devoting so much time and energy to providing Newtown students and families with a cultural exchange opportunity like this. It is a truly rewarding experience to host a student from another country and then stay with that student in their country, but words cannot describe how lucky I feel that I have a lifelong friend in China because of the NICE program. NICE has had an immeasurable impact on my life, and I know this program could not be the success that it is without the selfless devotion of Newtown’s teachers and administrators. Thank you for providing Newtown with such an influential and life-changing program.
Hamilton College, Clinton, NY September 25, 2013