FUZHOU, China. - Police escorts through rush hour. A red carpet arrival in front of hundreds of applauding Chinese students.
Lincoln High School students are getting VIP treatment on their trip through China. The 97 students, and a dozen chaperones, from Tacoma are guests of the Chinese government. They’ve been on the trip since last Thursday.
After spending three days in Hong Kong, they arrived in Fuzhou, in mainland China, Tuesday night.
If they didn’t know what it meant to be on a government-sponsored trip, they found out Wednesday.
“I don’t even have carpet in my house,” said student Rigel Adams, “There’s a red carpet here, I feel so special.”
Adams and his classmates walked the red carpet at their trip’s opening ceremony at the Fuzhou Institute of Education.
The students sat in on classes and got to play basketball, table tennis and musical instruments with their Chinese counterparts.
“Half of my family members haven’t done what I’ve done today,” said Lincoln’s Marko O’Kelley.
He’s the first person in his family to leave the country.
“Growing up in America I never received that attention. Being here in China, receiving that attention, makes me feel like I’m something important.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping invited 100 students from Lincoln High to visit him in China when he spoke at their Tacoma campus in September of 2015.
The Chinese government is paying for the trip.
From Fuzhou, the group flies to Chengdu to visit more schools and a panda research center.
The group wraps up the visit next Tuesday after spending four days in Beijing, China’s capital.
While in Beijing, the students hope to meet the president to personally thank him for the trip.