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Chinese exchange students initially had visas denied

The Chinese exchange students take a group photo at Beijing Capital International Airport. This past August, their visas were denied at the embassy in Beijing, causing a 15 day delay in their arrival at Wayland High School.

Credit: Courtesy of Chang Liu

The Chinese exchange students take a group photo at Beijing Capital International Airport. This past August, their visas were denied at the embassy in Beijing, causing a 15 day delay in their arrival at Wayland High School.

Kevin Wang and Caitlin Newton

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This past summer, the visas of Chinese exchange students traveling from China to Wayland High School for the Chinese Exchange Program were denied at the embassy in Beijing. According to former Program Coordinator and current volunteer Donna Fong and current Program Coordinator and WHS Mandarin teacher Chang Liu, the issue lasted for over a month and the incident caused the Chinese students to arrive in Boston over two weeks later than scheduled.

“So basically [the students walked] in, were interviewed, and then the embassy said no, but we didn’t know too [many] details on why they denied [the students],” Liu said.

According to Fong and Liu, there are multiple possibilities as to why the visas were denied. Fong speculates that one possible reason the visas were denied at the embassy was due to the many changes in the United States government since last year, but Liu said that they simply could not speculate. According to Fong, the American coordinators of the program received the information of visa denial from the trip coordinators in China but she noted that reaching anyone who had the knowledge of what exactly went on in the embassy would be very difficult.

There is no precedent to this visa incident in the Chinese exchange program at WHS. Fong and Liu could not recall any occurrences of mishaps of this scale in the past.

“This is really a first time,” Fong said. “It was almost unbelievable.”

When the problems with the visas first occurred, it was possible that the trip would not happen at all. Past American students who went to China, students going to China this spring, their families and the administration wrote emails to the American government.

“A lot of people [in our families and in the administration] wrote emails to try to convince [the American government] that [the Chinese exchange students] should be able to come and to tell them why it was so important to us,” freshman Aydan McGah said.

McGah will be participating in the exchange program this year.

Fong noted the letters to the American government were to try and convince them that the students should be able to come. McGah’s exchange student, Lorry Huitong, described his reactions toward the trip being in potential limbo.

“It was my one [chance] to go to America as an exchange student, so [I was] really afraid that we [wouldn’t be able to come],” Huitong said, noting he felt very surprised and nervous.

According to McGah, the visa incident delayed the arrival by 15 days, so the exchange students will now depart Wayland 15 days later than before. The original arrival date was August 31st, set so that the students would have arrived before the start of school. Fortunately, plans and events were not significantly altered due to the delay.

“Everything just had to get shifted over 15 days, but I don’t think it affected anything that I know of,” McGah said.

The Chinese students arrived from Beijing on September 15th and will stay with their host families until mid-November.

“The administration and the school community were extremely supportive, and I think without that support, we would have been more stressed out,” Fong said.

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About the Writers
Kevin Wang, News Editor and Copy Editor

Kevin Wang, Class of 2020, is the news section editor and a copy editor for WSPN. This is his third year on the staff. He is secretary of the Class of...

Caitlin Newton, Features Editor

Caitlin Newton, class of 2020, is in her second year of journalism. She is the editor of the features section this year. She plays soccer and lacrosse...

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Chinese exchange students initially had visas denied