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Published May 31 2010

Fargo students' trip to China canceled indefinitely

Fargo students looking forward to a trip to China are now left waiting.

An exchange program to Fargo’s Chinese sister school was canceled indefinitely this year, letting down six high school students who had been saving for the trip.

“Really, really, really disappointed,” said Fargo North High School sophomore Renny Taylor. “That would’ve been amazing.”

The trip, which was initially scheduled for the end of December, was postponed to March in hopes of lowering the $2,200 airfare and increasing the turnout.

But the March trip never happened.

“The trip was just so disorganized,” said North junior Nina Santiago.

Program coordinator Rob Arneson said a change in leadership in the Fargo School District Foundation, a separate nonprofit development organization, left funding up in the air.

The Fargo elementary school teacher said the uncertainty in foundation funding for his coordinating position and for a second chaperone for the trip left the fate of the China trip in limbo.

Until a new director is put in place, he said he – like the students – is left wondering if the trip will ever happen.

“I haven’t heard a word,” he said. “We’ll see what they say.”

This is the sixth year of the foundation’s program.

It brought Chinese teachers from Beijing New Oriental Foreign Language School in Yangzhou, China, to Fargo, sent Fargo teachers to Yangzhou, and eventually will send students abroad.

Taylor and Santiago are left hoping things can fall into place next year. They are passionate about learning Chinese and were saving up for the trip, which cost each student about $2,800.

Besides taking Chinese classes, Taylor hopes to major in the language in college and someday teach English in China.

“That was kind of going to be my taste of their school,” she said of the aborted trip. “I’d love to go.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515