HARLINGEN — May Tsao has traveled a long way from home.
Actually, it took her 24 hours to get to the Rio Grande Valley.
Now, the 16-year-old is learning what it means to be a Texan and American as a Rotary International Youth Exchange student from the Republic of Taiwan.
But, there’s more. She’s also learning about local businesses and what it is like to live, work and eat in the RGV. Earlier this week, May spent the day at the Valley Morning Star and joined some of the employees for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. She will spend time at a local bank and some other businesses before the school year starts Monday.
For the next year, Tsao will attend Harlingen High School as a sophomore and will stay with a local family.
In the meantime she’s enjoying what she calls a more “leisurely” lifestyle here in America. She walked the beach on South Padre Island last weekend and enjoyed some shrimp tacos at an SPI restaurant.
She’s looking forward to attending Sandcastle Days on the island in October and seeing some of the other sights around the area in the coming months.
May is still struggling to understand English, using her cell phone to translate some words from Chinese. She admits she doesn’t have a deep English vocabulary.
But that isn’t stopping her from being excited and ready to experience high school in America. She said she even may join a sports team or participate in a club at school.
“I think history will be hard to understand,” she said about school. “It will be scary to talk to other students because of my English. But that is OK. I will try to talk to them and maybe we can be friends.”
She’s looking forward to a different way of teaching and learning in the United States.
“Teachers tell you what you should learn,” she said about school in Taiwan.
But here, she said she expects to be able to speak and have more interaction with fellow students and teachers in class. May said she is looking forward to that.
She also said there are a lot of tests in school in Taiwan — basically every day. She believes that will not be the case here in America.
Other changes she is becoming accustomed to — a larger school campus and bigger houses in America as opposed to Taiwan.
Earlier this week she was in awe seeing Boggus Stadium and the school pool.
One thing she is used to — the heat. May said although Taiwan receives more rain, the temperatures are pretty similar to South Texas.