A group of teachers and students from Hong Kong got to experience two staples of American schools during their 10 days in Corbin – the holiday and the snow day.
After arriving in Corbin Jan. 15, the students enjoyed a three-day weekend with their host families because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Jan. 18.
After going to school on Tuesday, the area was hit with the first round of snow, resulting in school being closed Wednesday and Thursday. A second round of snow closed school Friday.
Corbin Middle School teacher Kristal Doolin and her family hosted one of the students, 11-year-old Kuang Yi Ling.
While Kuang didn’t see much of the classroom, Doolin said the girl and Doolin’s daughter, Tara, saw plenty of time outside sliding down the snow-covered hill in front of the Doolins’ home.
“Hong Kong has a climate similar to Hawaii,” Doolin explained. “Kuang had seen snow when travelling to other parts of China but she never got to play in it.”
One thing left Kuang in a quandary. Along with the snow came the cold.
“She didn’t want to come in from playing in the snow, but she didn’t like the cold,” Doolin said of Kuang.
When not out in the snow, Doolin said Kuang and her daughter spent time in the house playing games.
In addition to board games such as Bounce Off in which players attempt to bounce balls into a gridded board in an attempt to create a designated pattern.
In addition, the girls played the video game Band Hero, in which players attempted to correctly sync their motions on the guitar and drums to play songs.
“Kuang plays piano so it fascinates her,” Doolin explained.
Doolin said among the things Kuang found interesting was the way the family would get together to watch television or a movie.
“She told us she may occasionally watch TV with her father, but they didn’t watch TV as a family,” Doolin said.
In addition, shopping at the grocery store was a new experience for Kuang.
Doolin explained that Kuang’s family typically went shopping every day for the food they needed for the day.
“She was amazed at the amount of groceries we bought, but we explained to her that was for a whole week,” Doolin said.
Though the weather wasn’t entirely cooperative, Doolin said the family was able to get Kuang to the area staples including the original KFC and to Cumberland Falls.
Another new site for Kuang was seeing the stars at night.
Because of the pollution in Hong Kong, few, if any, of the stars are visible at night. With Tara’s telescope, Kuang not only got to see the night sky, but get closer to some of the individual stars.
“Something as simple as the stars was a big deal for her,” Doolin said.
Doolin said Kuang was also impressed with the glow in the dark stars that adorn Tara’s bedroom ceiling.
“She and my daughter are so much alike,” Doolin said.
As a going-away present, Tara Doolin gave Kuang a pack of the glow in the dark stars for her bedroom.
As to food, Doolin said Kuang was willing to try everything, though she quickly developed a liking for Rice Krispie Treats.
“She tried everything under the sun,” Doolin said of Kuang.
Doolin said one of the things Kuang really liked was potatoes.
“It didn’t matter how I cooked them,” Doolin said. “Mashed, fried, or however, she loved potatoes.”
While there were some foods that didn’t translate well from English to Cantonese, or visa versa, one unexpected commonality was corn on the cob.
“Corn on the cob is a snack in Hong Kong,” Doolin explained. “They even eat it for breakfast.”
Doolin said Kuang’s family has extended an invitation for the Doolins to visit Hong Kong, though it is uncertain when they may be able to take them up on the invitation.
The Doolins extended an open invitation to Kuang and her family.
“We told her anytime she was to come to the US, she has a home here,” Doolin said.