New York Times story features former Polk exchange student

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ding Yinghan of Beijing, China, a former exchange student at Polk County High School, is now a junior at Hamilton College in upstate New York. He is on a full scholarship, is number one in his class and is spending this year at Dartmouth on a dual-degree engineering program.

Sandy, as he was known to Polk County students, was one of several Chinese students featured in a recent New York Times article on the growing number of Chinese undergraduates studying in American colleges and universities.

Jim Jackson, who has been active in the Polk County chapter of the American Field Services (AFS) for many years, said Sandy was first in his class at Polk County High School in calculus, American history, English and cooking.

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According to the New York Times article, which ran on Nov. 7 in the Educational Life section, Ding was accepted early admission to Hamilton College after his year in Polk County. He founded the bridge club at Hamilton, ran the Ping-Pong team, wrote for the student newspaper and tutored in chemistry, physics and economics for $8.50 an hour.

The article said Dings parents pushed him to study abroad because they have little faith in the Chinese education system.

In the U.S. they focus on creative-thinking skills, while in China they only focus on theory, Dings mother, Meng Suyan, was quoted as saying. So what university students learn here doesnt prepare them for the real world.

According to the article, Ding said, Chinese values require me to be a good listener, and Western values require me to be a good speaker.