HHS News Flash: An Interview with Betty Chen

Betty enjoys New Hampshire.
Photo: Betty Chen

By Lillian Daley
When Betty Chen decided to do an exchange program, she had no idea she
would end up in small-town New Hampshire for ten months. She had heard
about the program, Program of Academic Exchange (PAX), in school, and
as Betty said, her mom thought it would be “a great chance for [her]
to improve [her] English.” PAX picked her location and host family,
and in August, after a twelve-hour flight from her native China, Betty
arrived in America. She is now a high school senior in Hanover, New
Hampshire, a very different place from the big city where she is from.

Betty said there was nothing really surprising about Hanover High,
since she had already had an idea of what American high school would
be like from American movies, but everything was new and it was hard
to find classes at first. Although she misses her friends, Betty likes
learning more English and is busy taking six classes and playing
soccer. She is taking Calculus, Biology, Psychology and Sociology,
Orchestra, Contemporary American History, and English, and there is no
question about which is her favorite: “I love Psychology. It’s very
     At Betty’s school in China, there isn’t a single class devoted to
psychology. Students also have less choice about which classes to
take: they only get to decide if they are art students, like Betty, or
science ones. HHS is also a lot smaller than her school back home,
which has both day students and boarders. Another big difference
between our school and Betty’s school in China is that the school day
is shorter here: in China, school lasts until 5:30 p.m., and on
certain days students and teachers are expected to stay until 10 p.m.
to work. There is a two-hour lunch period, however—“time for a nap,”
or to relax, eat, or do homework. In addition, everyone takes P.E.
(not just freshmen), which was where Betty learned how to play soccer.
Betty is now improving her soccer skills on the HHS girls’ reserve
squad. She has also joined the juggling club, which she describes as a
“very funny” experience, but she is currently not playing badminton, a
popular sport in China that she played regularly there.
     When she heads back to China in June, Betty will be glad to return
with better English and memories of her time in Hanover, and she is
especially excited to be reunited with her friends, her family, and
the food. Although she finds that the food here is not too different
from that in China, there are still differences. “The names of food
make me so confused,” Betty said. “I miss Chinese cuisine. My mom is a
good cook.”

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