Over the past weekend more than 30 Chinese Students from Haining No. 1 Middle School visited Searsport, staying with local families and touring the area. The students, accompanied by two teachers, were touring the country and came to Maine to formalize a sister-school relationship with the Searsport school.

This relationship was begun by former Searsport District High School and Middle School principal Brian Campbell who visited Haining No. 1 in November 2013. Campbell hoped to bring Chinese exchange students to Searsport in the future.

Searsport English teacher and chaperone for the exchange Kathleen Jenkins said signing the sister-school agreement would open the door for future exchanges, both of students and ideas. Jenkins said Searsport might see one exchange student next year, although that has not been finalized. She also said the school was planning a smaller trip, possibly for next April to visit Haining No. 1 in China.

Talking to the Journal July 28, Jenkins said the weekend hosting the Chinese students went well. The students stayed with host families in Searsport and toured the area as a group. They visited sights around the midcoast, including the Owls Head Transportation Museum, the Penobscot Marine Museum, Fort Knox and the University of Maine in Orono.

Jenkins said the Chinese students especially enjoyed kayaking and hiking at Swan Lake. She said the students, who come from a large Chinese city, often remarked at the freshness of the air and the deep blue color of the sky.

The Searsport students bonded with the Chinese students throughout the weekend, Jenkins said, and by the time they were ready to leave Monday morning, July 28, "there were some tears."

With the success of this weekend's visit, Jenkins said the door has been opened to further develop their relationship. The ultimate goal being an exchange of curriculum, students and ideas and a lasting friendship between the two schools, despite the thousands of miles that separate them.