Joung Shun-ho is a 14-year-old South Korean student, but he and several of his Korean classmates in the city now have Chinese families.
Like many students in the city, Joung enjoys a delicious supper prepared by his "Shanghai mother" every evening and gets help with his homework from his "Shanghai father."
Joung is one of 16 South Korean students who live with the families of Chinese teachers as part of a pilot home-stay program launched by Shanghai Jincai Middle School in Pudong.
The program, which began in February, was set up to give foreign students in the city an option to living in school dormitories.
This semester, 16 students from South Korea moved into the homes of eight local teachers.
"We hope to provide both a better language-learning environment and better family guardianship for foreign students," said school official Dong Shujia.
According to Dong, home-stay is a very popular practice for foreign students in Australia and the United States. However, it is still a new idea in Shanghai.
The idea was first proposed last year when the parents of several foreign students visited Jincai. After being approved by the city's education authorities, the school selected eight teachers with good living conditions and family environments to be the guardians of the 16 Korean students who study Chinese at Jincai, said Dong.
"Since my own daughter has grown up and I'm still energetic, my family is quite willing to take care of younger children," said Xie Pinghai, the host teacher of Joung Shun-ho. Xie works in the library at Jincai Middle School. "Besides, the living expense students pay us can also increase the income of my family a little bit," Xie said.
Joung and his peers pay US$80 per week to their host families, which includes the cost of food and accommodation. That fee is similar to the cost of staying in one of the school's dormitories.
Besides Joung, an 18-year-old student, Jung Si-jae, lives in Xie's home. Every evening at the dinner table, Xie and his wife chat with their two new "sons," correcting grammatical mistakes in their Chinese and explaining traditional Chinese culture for them.
"My family now has become an international one.
"The two boys also tell us some interesting things about their country," said Xie.
The move has helped the two boys greatly improve their Chinese, they say.
(Eastday.com April 7, 2003)