Family Opens Home For Chinese Exchange Students

Two of East Texas's newest students are hitting the school books this year in English for the first time.

Longfei Zhou and Lance Liu are sophomores at Brookhill schools, by way of Qujing, China.

"It has been the vision of the Brookhill school since its inception that it would eventually be an international community," says Glenn Ballard, a teacher at Brookhill who has opened his home to these two boys. "That's really happening this year in a special way. We have seven different countries represented on our campus right now."

Glenn and his wife Rebecca have welcomed the boys, who are falling in just like their own sons did.

"The American people are very friendly," Longfei says. "I like staying here."

"They're very open to new things," Rebecca explains. "Last night, we had tortillas and nachos. Longfei put soy sauce on his tortilla."

"And that was fine," she adds, laughing. "My son tried it too, and he said it was good."

It's a nice arrangement, with both the boys and their American counterparts sharing their beliefs and cultures.

"I like to study Western cultures," Lance says, "so I think I can study more in Texas."

"Many of the students who live here in East Texas may never leave Texas," Glenn says, "but by bringing a part of all these countries into their experience, for many of them, I think it'll be a life-changing experience."

So while the boys fall right in with America, the family hopes their hospitality forms a bond that stretches around the world.

"It's kind of like throwing a pebble into the lake," Glenn says. "This is just our pebble."

Reid Kerr ( reporting.