FARMINGTON — A group of Mt. Blue High School students could soon have the opportunity to take a week-long trip to China after receiving an invitation from a Beijing school that the district has contact with through its international students program.

The trip was initially scheduled for Nov. 5; however, it has been delayed until the spring so students will have enough time to obtain visas and passports, according to Lisa Dalrymple, a world language teacher and director of the Mt. Blue High School international student program.

“I think it’d be fantastic because it gives students the opportunity to see what it’s like to sit in a classroom outside of the U.S.,” Dalrymple said.

Dalrymple has been the director of Mt. Blue High School’s international student program since it was established three years ago. The program works to bring tuition-paying students from other countries to the high school. As the sole coordinator for the program, Dalrymple is tasked with maintaining relationships with exchange programs in the U.S. and abroad in an effort to draw tuition-paying international students to the high school.

In September, a contact of hers in China extended the invitation for a group of Mt. Blue High School students to take a trip to Beijing to spend time in a school there, and also experience the culture the city and its surrounding area has to offer. While the original invitation was for a week long trip beginning on Nov. 5, Dalrymple said the trip will likely work out for some time in April.

After receiving the invitation, Dalrymple floated the idea to world language students, who were elated at the opportunity. A group of about 15 students expressed interest in going, and a willingness to pay the $2,000 necessary to cover travel expenses. The initial trip was approved by the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors last month; however, since the date of the trip has been changed, directors will most likely have to consider the trip a second time.

Concerns from the board of directors regarding the cost to students and the time necessary to obtain passports and travel visas have been remedied by delaying the trip until the spring. Dalrymple said the extended time frame between now and the trip will allow for students interested in going to hold fundraisers to compensate for some of the travel expenses.

Once the group of students arrive in China lodging and food will be taken care of by the host school. Aside from time spent in a Beijing classroom, Mt. Blue students who go on the trip will visit sights such as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

“That type of cultural awareness I think is big. We can read books but to actually experience it,” Dalrymple said.

Dalrymple said the trip is also an opportunity to strengthen Mt. Blue High School’s international student program. The program was started three years ago, with the goal of helping to fund the district’s world language program, including bringing back language offerings to the elementary school level.

While the program is still in its infancy and funds from the program have not yet been invested in world language, Dalyrmple said the program has meet student quota goals that were set when the program began.

The 2016-2017 academic year is only the second year that tuition-paying international students have enrolled in the Farmington-based high school. There are currently three tuition paying students, two from China and one from Mexico. Last year two international students participated in the program. The fourth year goal of the program is to have five tuition paying students.

Tuition-paying students can pay up to $30,000 including room and board, however only a portion of that goes to the school. Dalrymple said the money the school earns from tuition is being reinvested in the program to cover marketing and to pay for Dalrymple to network with student exchange programs in an effort to increase enrollment.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate

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