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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 17, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 3
CTY China Debuts: 140 High Schoolers Expand Their Global View

The group gathers for a photo during a tour of Nanjing's 600-year-old city walls, the largest in the world.
Photo by Carl Mclarty

By Matt Bowden
Center for Talented Youth

The cultural blur of East and West hit home for Danny Lopez when he stood between two pharmacies in a Nanjing hospital.

"One had what you might expect: pills and synthetics," said Lopez, who was taking a course on Chinese and Western medicine through the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Across the hall, through another window, what he saw were roots and herbs scattered on the floor. "It was an herbal pharmacy," he explains, and the pharmacists were at work putting together prescriptions for patients who were receiving treatment on both sides of the aisle.

Lopez, a high school senior from Gardena, Calif., joined 139 other academically talented students this summer for CTY's inaugural program in China. Paired with a new program in Puebla, Mexico, CTY China dramatically expands the scope of the Johns Hopkins–based Center for Talented Youth's international role.

"Students from over 90 countries have come through our programs over the years," said Lea Ybarra, executive director of CTY, "so it was natural for us, as part of Johns Hopkins, to look beyond boundaries to an emerging economy like China for a site."

Ybarra added that it was critical for CTY to provide a diverse group of gifted students from across the United States with a global view they may not have found otherwise. Along with aid for their 25 other summer sites, the center provided over $200,000 in financial aid for CTY China, with full awards — including books and travel costs — given to 34 qualifying students. Ybarra credits donors such as Hopkins trustee emeritus Chuck Miller for making sure students with limited economic resources could contribute to the program's success.

Dragon boat races and local excursions round out an academic program that includes Mandarin lessons and courses on China and U.S.-China relations.
Photo by Carl Mclarty

The location was certainly a draw. The 30 applicants CTY had anticipated receiving quickly ballooned to more than 150 on the first day of enrollment. And as the first university unit beyond SAIS to employ the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, CTY took full advantage of the new venue to provide a one-of-a-kind global perspective.

"Most of the classes related directly to China or U.S.-China relations," said Abigail Novick, a student from Mamaroneck, N.Y. "We got the theoretical, academic side, and then the very, very personal, firsthand experience."

While classes were taught in English, the 140 U.S. high schoolers all participated in daily Mandarin lessons over their three-and-half-week stay, in addition to taking one of the primary academic courses taught by college professors and graduate students, including China-U.S. Relations; Contemporary Issues in Chinese Modernization; Images of China: Literature and the Arts; and Medicine: East and West.

CTY China hosted numerous local adventures, too, including a visit to the Ming Tombs, guided walks of Nanjing's 600-year-old city walls — the largest city walls in the world — dragon boat racing and weekly trips to the local markets and parks.

High school senior Burton Snyder of Harrisburg, Pa., said it was difficult to imagine a better way to end his last year with CTY. "Definitely, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience."


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