By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Yang Wang Jiang, or better known as Iker, came to Morrison County from Xi’an, China, to learn about American culture.
“I heard it was a nation of freedoms and have found that true,” he said. “I also wanted to see the strongest country in the world.”
Iker, a name chosen from his favorite soccer player, Iker Cassillas from Madrid, Spain, said he flew to Seoul, Korea, in August 2012, and from there to Los Angeles, Calif., where he spent time in an English summer camp. He arrived in Little Falls Aug. 25, 2012, after 20 hours on planes, and moved in with Little Falls residents Roger and Mary Blake. He is a junior at Pierz Healy High School.
Iker is loving the freedom of school at Pierz, the smaller classes and the ability to speak with his teachers when he needs questions answered.
In China, Iker said all the students take the same classes. They stay in one room and the teachers move from class to class. And, with at least 70 students per classroom, the students are not allowed to ask questions during class time, only after class and there never seems to be enough time. He is enjoying the freedom of choosing his classes and the ability to ask questions immediately.
Iker said, “School is so much busier in China. We attend classes six days a week. I am up at 6:30 a.m. and don’t get home until 9 p.m.,” he said. He said with the large classrooms, structure is important.
“Our government sees the problem with students all taking the same classes, but with so many students, it has not figured out how to change,” Iker said.
But, Iker said there are good and bad with both systems. In China, the students learn more in high school than those in the United States. But in Pierz, the students are able to learn more about what they want to do for a career earlier.
To get into college in China, students must pass rigorous testing. Then in college, they are able to diversify their courses and take what they want.
“I would like a degree in aeronautics,” he said. “But I know I won’t get into college in China, mostly because I came to America. So, I plan to attend my senior year in Hyde High School in Hamden, Conn., and go on to college somewhere in the United States.” He said his parents respect his decision to finish his schooling in the U.S.
Coming from a large metropolitan city, Iker said he is enjoying living in a small town.
“It’s so peaceful here, and because it’s not as crowded as Xi’an, it is healthier, less stressful,” he said.
Iker has enjoyed perfecting his English and trying new foods. The Chinese food he is used to is spicier than what he gets here, but he does enjoy KFC chicken. Spaghetti, though, is not his favorite dish.
Iker will return to China in June and will take home Nike shoes since, he said, they are less expensive here.
Iker’s family consists of his father, Yang Xiaoguang, a self-employed home designer and his mother, Chen Shuxia, who works with her husband. He also has a half-brother, Zhao Zhiyang, 17.
The city of Xi’an, with more than 8 million people, is centrally located in the People’s Republic of China in Shaanxi Province. It’s name means “western peace.”
Xi’an has had seven different names until 1369 during the Ming Dynasty. It was renamed Xijing in 1930, and back to Xi’an in 1943.
Archeological finds, in particular the Lantian Man discovered in 1963, date back 500,000 years and a 6,500-year-old village was discovered in 1954, on the outskirts of the city.
Xi’an has a growing economy and is a pioneer in the Chinese software industry.