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Welcoming China Champions

by former Communications Coordinator – Hannah Varberg

The best and brightest from China are coming to our backyard every year to study and engage in Minnesotan culture. A palpable example of this is the China Champion Program. This Program is collaboration between the University of Minnesota’s School of Kinesiology and Beijing Sport University, where Chinese Olympic and World Champion athletes and coaches are invited to Minnesota to study for an academic year. For the past 4 years, HCC has been blessed to be a significant part of the China Champions’ warm welcome.

In past years, China Champions have become regular attenders of events and, consequently, became an intimate part of our HCC family. Even with an obvious language barrier, it’s beautiful to see friendships develop between well-known Chinese figures and average Minnesotans like you and me. As the new China Champions have arrived, we anticipate another year of connection and friendship. They have already been enthusiastic participators in many HCC November and December events!

The new China Champions are deft in a variety of different sports. Out of the 8 women Champions, 2 are speed skaters, 1 is a freestyle wrestler, 2 are swimmers, 2 are boxers, and 1 is a volleyball player. After dedicating tedious seasons of their lives to sports, they jump at the opportunity to explore our culture, tour sites, and learn English.

The night they arrived, Program Coordinator Nick Li and his wife, Lissa, invited them to a welcome dinner at Tea House. Their excitement about being in our cold, snowy Minnesota home was evident, even in their jetlag, as the group connected with HCC over delicious, authentic Chinese food. As done in the previous years, HCC also provided the champions with a welcome kit to get them appropriately acclimated.

After their initial Tea House welcome, the  Champions have already attended a hot pot night at Wahu, gone shopping with HCC at the Albertville outlet mall, cheered on the Timberwolves and the Minnesota Wild at HCC-planned events, and baked cookies at HCC’s cookie bake.

Their year here has just begun, and friendships are just starting to blossom. HCC is honored to have the opportunity to serve the champions and have them as important additions to our family. As the Champions are significant influencers of Chinese society and culture, this is another way that we can bridge the gap between two distant nations, affirming that cross-cultural friendships are small but mighty tools to change the world.

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