Exchange Students from Beijing Experience Life as an ODA Student

For three weeks each winter, Out-of-Door hosts high school students from the prestigious International Program at Beijing High School #4 in Beijing, China.
Through a program designed to give the Beijing visitors a fully immersive experience as American students, the teens from China are enrolled full-time at the Upper School, attending science, math, English, art, history, and elective classes. Attending daily classes at ODA and interacting with students their own age gives our visitors a true experience of life at an American college preparatory school. All of the visiting students aspire to achieve college placements in the U.S. when they graduate, and this exploration into education in the U.S. is a good introduction for them.

In addition to their Out-of-Door classroom experience, our visitors also immerse themselves into life as typical Americans outside of school, residing with ODA families who welcome them into their homes. Students are busy during the week with classes and learn the busy routines of homework, sports, and the arts. During evenings and weekends, ODA host families take over, welcoming their guests into home life and family activities.

This year our host families—the Becks, Peabody-Hudsons, Lovines, Kims, and Eastos— have given the students a variety of typical American experiences, including Taco Tuesdays, cooking meals together, attending ODA basketball games, on-campus service activities, swim practices, and working out at gyms. They enjoyed watching a rocket launch during a trip to the Space Coast, visiting a family home on a barrier island, exploring pristine Siesta Beach, a shared birthday celebration, trips to the downtown Farmer's Market, go-kart racing at the Grand Prix, miniature golfing, Nerf tag, a trip to Jump and Fun, and an adventure at a climbing gym. The students were also invited to be guests on the inaugural charter by Fishing for Futures, a non-profit started by ODA ninth graders that will offer fishing trips to veterans and people with disabilities. Next week, the students will visit the Lower School campus.

Overwhelmingly, the Chinese students and ODA host families all say that the most memorable and rewarding part of the experience is the time they spend with each other. We extend a sincere thank you to the host families who have opened their homes to make this experience so special for these international travelers. Out-of-Door Mandarin teacher Ms. Shumin Yu is available to speak with ODA families that are curious about the program or who would like to be hosts next year. Interested families can contact her for more information at

The Out-of-Door Academy

LOWER SCHOOL |  Historic Siesta Key Campus  |  Pre-K – Grade 5
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  |  Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch  |  Grades 6 – 8 |  Grades 9 – 12
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