As the 2012 school year entered the third quarter, Cathedral Prep was introduced to some new students from across the ocean. Students from China began to walk the hallways, intermingling with the Prep student body and joining the students in their other classes. Since that time, more students have arrived some China, Japan, Korea, and even Denmark and Slovakia. Although some of the exchange students have left Prep, even more have arrived from Asia since that time.
Some of the students that arrived in the first bunch are still here at Prep to this day. One of those students began at Prep as a sophomore and will be graduating this year. Jiapeng Xiong, or Kennedy, as he is known to most students at Prep, was kind enough to allow me to interview him about himself and his time here in America and at Prep.
Although his Chinese name is Jiapeng, Kennedy says that he had the name Kennedy even while in China. One of his mother’s friend’s idols is John F. Kennedy, and he had the name Kennedy since he was young. Since he was young he also wanted to come to the United States for school because he believes it gives him a better education.
When he arrived in the United States, Kennedy did not know anybody and says that the biggest differences are people in the United States’ eating habits and the transportation since all the transportation in China is via taxi. People think differently in the United States, he says. Chinese people are not as passionate about things as American people. Chinese people are a lot more low-key. When he first arrived here he was a little scared since it was a new, strange place. After coming to Prep though, Kennedy says that all the Chinese students were very friendly to each other.
Now that Kennedy has been here for almost two years, he has become settled at Prep. Since arriving at Prep, Kennedy says he has gotten more outgoing, and his English-speaking ability is much better. The students are nice to him and the other exchange students, he says, and they all seem interested in learning about Chinese culture and Chinese words. He says his favorite thing about Prep is the pep rallies because they are so exciting, but he also really liked the Thanksgiving dinner served at lunch. As for the classes at Prep, Kennedy says he really enjoys gym and health, but that study hall is his favorite class because it is just free time that he can use on his own.
Kennedy has enjoyed his adventure in the United States thus far. He enjoys playing soccer, although he is not a member of the Prep team. Since he arrived here, he says he has become a fan of football too. He likes Notre Dame since his host brother, John Chereson, is a kicker for the Fighting Irish.
Since Kennedy is a senior, this is his last year at Prep. He says that he plans to go to university here in the United States to further his education and hopefully get his master’s degree. He says that he plans to major in mechanical engineering and minor in environmental science. Sometime in his life he also wishes to go to Paris, France, and the coldest place in the United States, Alaska.