Following First Lady Melania Trump’s visit to China, where students from Beijing Banchang Primary School performed various dances and sang for her, around 30 students from the school stopped by Bay Ridge’s P.S. 170 on Thursday, February 8 to perform for the students there.
Following their appearance at the Bay Ridge school, the young students visited the White House the following day to perform for President Donald Trump and his wife.
Milady Baez, deputy chancellor of the Department of English Language Learners, was on hand and discussed the excitement of the day.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime event,” she said. “This was a school that Melania Trump visited in China and now they came to our school to perform for our students, and our students performed for them.”
She credited Principal Tony Wu and the local students for standing out when the Department of Education was deciding which school to choose for the event.
“He was so kind and so welcoming to us,” Baez said. “This was the perfect school for the children to come to. It’s extremely special for the children. They won’t ever forget this experience. They came all the way from China to be in a school that has a dual language program [Chinese as well as English] and it was just a wonderful experience for them and our students.”
Baez also discussed the school’s celebration of diversity.
“It’s exciting for both groups of students to appreciate the work in the arts they did this morning,” she said. “I feel this is what our public schools need more of. We need to have an interchange of students.”
Wu stressed the significance the day for his students, who had been preparing for weeks.
“This means a great deal,” he said. “As the chancellor said, we have a dual language program. The kids can develop two languages all the way up from kindergarten through fifth grade. The purpose is to maintain and develop their native language and transition to another language. A group coming from their country is a good learning experience.”
Students from Beijing Banchang Primary School were excited about performing both at U.S. schools (not only in Bay Ridge, but also in Queens and in Orlando, Florida) and at the White House.
“I’m really excited today. We wanted to come to P.S. 170 and see the students in New York and make a friendship between China and the United States. They have a different school life,” said student Yuxuan Lu, who also discussed performing for the FLOTUS. “It was really fun. I got really nervous but it was great. We did a few songs and a traditional dance. We are happy to do that here.”
Tom Zhaozitao, a student who helped escort FLOTUS at his school, recalled making the local newspaper. “I think it’s exciting and interesting. It was my first time in the newspaper and it was great,” he said. “I’m very happy to do it again.”
“For the students, I think it’s the perfect opportunity to know the other side of the world, more than just China,” said Perry Peng, director of external affairs for Beijing Joy Education International Technology Co. “For example, students in China, by communicating with students in America, can learn about the differences and similarities of school life. You can then explore a new world and open a horizon. Beijing Banchang Primary School is the only school the first lady came to visit in China so visiting her again represents a friendship between the two countries.”
State Senator Marty Golden spoke to the students before the performance.
“To have students from a school that Melania Trump visited in Beijing come here to our lovely country and have the opportunity to go to the White House to get to see the president and the first lady is something unique,” he said. “Congratulations to you and your students.”