class of high school students in Illinois evidently have a new pen pal in Chinese president Xi Jinping.
During the Chinese New Year, the class of first-year Mandarin students at Niles North High School in suburban Chicago penned a letter to the Chinese president, asking him work, life, hobbies, and opinions about the US while expressing their fondness for Chinese language and culture.
The class recently received a reply, hand-delivered to them by the Chinese consul-general in Chicago, in which Xi told the American high-schoolers that his job was “very tiring, but also very fulfilling,” according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
Xi described himself as a man of eclectic interests, specifically mentioning philosophy, history, literature, culture, music, and sports, adding that he has kept many of these hobbies since middle school. Of course, Xi missed out on having a traditional high school experience himself, being sent off to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution at the age of 16.
Elsewhere in the letter, Xi called on the high-schoolers to help promote China-US friendship in the future, inviting them to come to China, noting that is better to see something once than to hear about it a hundred times.
It’s not clear if the Niles North High School class will endeavor to keep this correspondence going or if it will fizzle out like most pen pal relationships.