By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN While staying with the Kahle family in Winsted, Chinese exchange student Katie Yang has been busy learning about “normal American life.”
Meanwhile, Kevin and Elaine Kahle, and their 16-year-old daughter, Lauren, are learning everything they can about Katie’s home in the Shandong Province.
Lauren already knows that in Chinese, “hello” sounds like ne-how and “thank-you” sounds like she-she. She also knows that Katie’s family lives in Qingzhou, a mountainous city of about 900,000 people.
Off to China
“We were talking one day, and Katie mentioned that her parents want me to come visit,” Lauren said.
She and Katie started researching the possibility, and they asked Lauren’s parents.
“I told them we’ll have to do a lot of discussing,” Elaine recalled.
They eventually gave Lauren the OK, and then started making plans for a two-week trip, scheduled for June.
Traveling to China requires a fair amount of paperwork including a passport, visa application, formal invitation from Katie’s parents, and copy of the itinerary. Elaine is also hoping to hire a travel escort to assist her daughter during the flight home.
On the way to China, Lauren and Katie will be traveling together. Katie then plans to spend the summer at home with her parents and two younger brothers, and return to Winsted in August.
Back to Winsted
The Kahle family is looking forward to hosting Katie for a second year.
“This was our first time hosting a student, and it’s working out really well,” Elaine said, explaining that there’s plenty of space, since her two oldest children (Tony, 26, and Kristin, 24) are living on their own.
With the Kahle family, Katie was able to experience Christmas, cross-country skiing, tacos, and the Mall of America for the first time.
“She’s gone to a lot of sporting events with us,” Elaine added.
Lauren is a three-sport athlete at Holy Trinity, so volleyball, basketball, and softball are a big part of the Kahles’ routine.
“Next year, I might like to play volleyball,” Katie said, adding that she’s also hoping to learn the saxophone.
The school day at Holy Trinity is significantly shorter than what Katie is used to in China, allowing for more time to participate in extracurricular activities.
At home, Katie’s school day starts at 7 a.m. and goes until 5:30 p.m. On top of that, she does about two hours of homework in the evenings.
“In China, we have English class, but it’s mostly writing, not speaking,” Katie said.
When she can’t think of the right English word to say, she uses a translation tool on her phone to help.
Luckily, Katie’s favorite class math is similar in Chinese and English. Someday, she hopes to have a career in finance and banking.
Katie’s hometown of Qingzhou is a hotspot for industry and farming, and her parents own a company that manufactures hydrochloric acid.
During Lauren’s trip in June, she’s looking forward to visiting the Great Wall, seeing the mountains, and going shopping.
“Katie says she needs to learn to eat with chopsticks,” Elaine added.