Students from Carmel, Zionsville return from first trip to Asia with IU Honors

Zionsville and Carmel residents spent five weeks in China. (Submitted photo)

Zionsville and Carmel residents spent five weeks in China. (Submitted photo)

By Sophie Pappas

Bright and early on June 7, nine Indiana high school students departed for Hangzhou, China, with the Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Languages managing director, Stephanie Goetz, as the inaugural group to the program’s first site in Asia. IUHPFL Hangzhou-bound students hailed from Carmel High School, Culver Academies, North Central High School, Southport High School, and Zionsville Community High School, all strong supporting schools of the Honors Program.

Five weeks later on July 11, these same nine students returned to Indianapolis with a greater understanding of the Chinese language and culture, as well as a stronger sense of self.

 “Establishing a program in china has been the culmination of a project years in the making. We are proud of our first-ever Hangzhou cohort and all they managed to achieve during their five week stay in China,” Goetz said. “We cannot imagine sending a more qualified group of students to inaugurate the program in Asia.”

 Students spent their time studying the Chinese language in the classroom with two graduate instructors from IU’s Department of East Asian Language and Cultures at No. 14 high school in Hangzhou. When students weren’t in class learning about Communication, Language-in-Use, and Integrated Chinese from their certified Chinese-Second-Language teachers, they engaged in activities taught by Chinese staff members, such as Tai Chi morning exercises, practicing Chinese characters in calligraphy and learning how to play a Chinese instrument, hulusi.

 “Given No. 14 is a key school at the provincial level, we knew that their standards and IUHPFL’s would align,” Goetz said.

IUHPFL Hangzhou Program participant, Rachel Krieger, of Carmel, said upon her return to the U.S.: “I learned a lot about Chinese culture and got a lot out of the experience. Also, as this was the first year in Hangzhou, I think we demonstrated admirably that the program can be successful in China.”

IUHPFL Hangzhou students lived with host families during their five week stay in country. Students were able to explore Hangzhou with their host families and assimilate to the host culture by getting to experience shopping for groceries, visiting extended host family members, and enjoying the company of their host siblings.

Throughout the program students, accompanied by their instructors, went on excursions to explore various other sites and territories in China, including trips to neighboring Suzhou, as well as Shanghai and the country’s capital, Beijing.

 To learn more about the trip to China, or how you can register for a trip with IU Honors, visit


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