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Study-abroad tours in US booming

Updated: 2015-08-06 09:22
By NIU YUE in New York (China Daily USA)

Around Times Square, the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, it's hard to miss groups of Chinese students wearing shirts with summer tour logos.

More and more Chinese middle-class parents have encouraged their children to travel abroad during summer break.

"The study tours have just sprung up in the past decade," said Michael L. Chu, president of Asian American Global Travel, a travel agency in Flushing, Queens.

"It's a good phenomena," he said.

"When I moved to the United States from Taiwan in the 1980s, most travelers I saw with Asian faces were Japanese," Chu said. "But now, you can see Chinese travelers everywhere, which means our country's national strength improved."

Middle-class parents with annual incomes of 150,000 yuan (about $24,000) or higher are sending their children overseas, according to a report on The New York Times' Chinese language website.

Chu said that most study tours cost about $5,000 per person, equal to one-fifth of a middle-class family's annual income.

The tours average 10 to 20 days, and each group is made up of about 20 to 30 students.

"Senior high school students aspiring to study abroad in the future are predominant (in the groups), since their parents think it's helpful to have field trips to US colleges before applying," Chu said.

"When school presidents and teachers call on the students to travel abroad, once the students' families' economic condition permits it, their parents encourage them to go, not to mention most Chinese families have only one child," he said.

Chu said that there are programs designed especially for senior high school students applying to US colleges: Apart from visiting elite colleges and landmarks, English-language instruction and consultation for college applications would be interspersed on the tours, offered by local training institutions.

Lin Qiwei, a senior high school student in China, took part in a US tour last summer. Now she is preparing to apply to US colleges instead of taking the Chinese College Entrance Examination.

"The experience of touring the US confirmed my idea to go abroad for college," Lin told China Daily.

Lin's tour lasted about 20 days, and covering large cities on both the East and West coasts and including several English and US culture courses taught by local groups.

"It kind of forced me to put myself in a wholly English-language environment," Lin said. "Through the courses I took, I learned the differences between Chinese education and US education, like US classes encourage students to discuss in class rather than requiring students to listen carefully speechless like Chinese classes.

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