Across China: Sino-German teen friendships grow fonder with exchanges

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BEIJING, April 12 (Xinhua) -- "Hi, what would you like to talk about today?" an artificial intelligence (AI) English tutor named Echo asked Svenja Butzlaff, a German 10th-grade student who was visiting Youdao, a Beijing-based intelligent education subsidiary of China's internet giant NetEase.

Via a mobile app, she conversed with the avatar about the history of China's tea culture. "The development of AI technology in China is quite impressive," Butzlaff said.

Butzlaff is among over 20 students from Germany's CJD Elze who have visited China under the invitation of the Affiliated High School of Peking University (PKUHS), based on an exchange mechanism between the two schools.

Over a two-week stay in China, the Germans had classes together with their counterparts from Beijing. They visited tech companies as well as landmarks like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace, fully immersed in the Chinese way of life and experiencing its culture.

"Before this trip to Beijing, I thought I would be surrounded by skyscrapers. I didn't expect to see hutong alleys or meet such an ancient city rich in historical spirit," a 14-year-old German student named Laura said.

She added that she was particularly fascinated by the delicate patterns on the buildings in the Forbidden City.

Education plays another critical role in connecting these adolescents. At PKUHS, German students took courses in art, sports, and crafts.

"German students are full of curiosity. We shared our learning experiences, hobbies, and favorite foods with one another. I found it rather interesting," said Wu Churan, a student from PKUHS.

Wu also recalled her visit to Germany under the same exchange program. "It benefited me a lot for it not only expanded my horizons but helped me make many good friends and gain a deeper understanding of cultural diversity," Wu added.

As for German student Adriano, who aspires to be a chef, Chinese cuisine is especially charismatic.

"I had dumplings for the very first time at my Beijing companion's. It was so delicious. Besides, his family took me to a Sichuan-style hot pot, which was equally amazing," Adriano said. The 14-year-old also joked that he seemed to have "gained weight" during his stay in China.

It is worth mentioning that he didn't forget to buy some Chinese chili sauce and seasonings before returning to Germany. "I'll try making Chinese dishes for my family," he said.

Upon wrapping up the trip, Laura jotted down her wish. "I hope to pursue my bachelor's degree in China in the future, make more Chinese friends, and have an extensive understanding of Chinese culture."

"Sino-German teen friendships will only grow fonder with more such face-to-face exchanges," said Carsten, the teacher who led the German student delegation. "We all expect more activities of this kind to come in the future." Enditem

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