ARCADIA, California — Ryan Ren loves the soccer fields around his middle school in Arcadia, California. They don’t exist in his hometown of Guangzhou, China, but the 14-year-old student hasn’t been to Guangzhou in a while. Ryan is what’s known as a “parachute kid,” that is, a young person who comes to America alone to study. “I only knew a few days before coming to America that I was coming,” Ryan, who attends Dana Middle School, said in Mandarin. “My reaction was, ‘That’s weird.’ All my friends are in China, so I didn’t feel good. I didn’t understand.” Ryan’s situation is unusual both because he’s attending public school and because he arrived here alone. Other parachute kids’ circumstances vary. Some always knew they’d be coming to the U.S. for middle or high school because their parents had been planning for it since before their birth. Most parachute kids attend private institutions, which can range from swanky boarding schools like Phillips Andover, to small private day schools. And a small but growing number of kids attend public schools. “There’s an increase in wealth in the newly minted [Chinese] middle class, and a lot of parents want [their children] to have the… Read full this story
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