Dozens of Chinese Students Make Pasadena Their Home For Aveson Charter School Immersion Program

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Story and Photography by BRANDON VILLALOVOS

10:05 am | September 27, 2016

The Aveson Charter School in Altadena greeted 39 fourth grade-aged students from the Beijing based Fang Cao Di International School Tuesday morning as they embarked on a one month long stay made possible by a cultural immersion program.

“Today we welcomed our guests from China. The elementary students were welcomed in to our elementary school and we laid out what the next month is going to look like and the benefit from this international connection that we have established and are maintaining,” said Cognetta.

This is the fourth annual installment of the unique immersion program between Aveson Charter School and Fang Cao Di International School that gives the opportunity to nearly 800 Aveson students and several dozen Chinese students to learn about each other’s culture in a personal way.

The Chinese students that arrived Tuesday fall into the fourth and fifth grade age category.

“We are thrilled to host them for the next month or so. We are so in awe in the fact that they just travelled half way across the world to spend some time with us. It’s remarkable to watch our students and our visiting students come together and learn so much about each other,” said Aveson Charter School Director Dr. Sebastian Cognetta.

Educators from Aveson and Fang Cao Di feel that the students and faculty bodies, both American and Chinese, benefit greatly from the immersion program.

“Both schools are really interested in helping to foster leadership skills. One of the important elements of that is really recognizing perspectives and differences from around the world. When you’re able to work and connect with students that are of similar age to you and really start to grapple with the similarities and differences in their life experiences, the perspectives that get brought in are just not replicable in any other way,” said Cognetta.

Fang Di Cao is active in their efforts to provide their students with cultural experiences like this one, according Principal Yu Yaling.

“We have different cultures in our school already and through this program they can experience much more about American life here and how Americans study. We are so excited for our students to have the opportunity to gain more experience in such a great program that we have,” Yaling.

Aveson parents are the host families for the Chinese students during their stay.

“We love making new friends and finding new host families in Pasadena. Our parents want their children to participate in the program because they feel that it helps them grow a lot,” said Fang Cao Di International School Superintendent Mu Ying.

The program is unique to Aveson and is not a part of the dual immersion programs that PUSD offers at several campuses.

“We’ve had an international and global focus to our curriculum for ten years,” said Cognetta.

The Fang Di Cao students will be a part of everyday academic instruction with their American peers and their stay will feature various local trips and outings to see what SoCal has to offer.

“The growth that happens with our students is unmatched. We don’t get that any other way. We don’t get that by learning about China, we get the test by immersing ourselves with students and educators from these places that we are very passionate about learning more about and establishing relationships with,” said Cognetta.

The goal for this program is to impact students in the long run.

“It’s going to make for more informed and responsible choices that affect their local communities a well as the global communities. That’s a really exciting take-away from a visit like this,” said Cognetta.

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