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Park City Council Recognizes Val Chin And Shirley Smith For Student Exchange Program

Three people smiling, two of them have just received awards
KPCW Radio

The Park City Council approved a resolution recognizing two Park City community members for their creation of an exchange program that 270 local and international students have participated in since its inception. 

Shirley Smith and Val Chin started the student exchange program between Park City High School and Beijing Number 4 High School in 1993. After a trip to China, Smith and Chin decided to model a student exchange program with China after one that was already happening in the school district with Russia.

Former Park City Mayor Dana Williams presented Smith and Chin at Thursday’s council meeting with specially made awards to commemorate the occasion.

Treasure Mountain Junior High Principal Caleb Fine commented on Chin and Smith’s impact on Park City students.

“You have allowed for priceless relationships to be developed between the students at Park City High School that go on this incredible experience and also the students from Beijing Number Four High School," Fine said. "We’re so grateful for what you have done. I truly believe that this is one of the finest exchange trips and programs in the nation, so we're very lucky that you blessed our students and our student body, and I'm grateful that I was able to be a part of it once as well, so thank you so much.”

Former Park City High School Principal Mike Andrews was the first principal to accompany Chin and Smith on an exchange trip. He says it’s hard to express what the two have done for students and the Park City community.

“They have influenced, whether they know it or not--and I think they do sometimes--the lives of countless numbers of students from both this community and from China who have participated in the exchanges,” Andrews said.

Chin was emotional as she addressed the packed council chambers.

“I do have many thank yous, but I'll tell you what I know," Chin said. "It's such a cliche when we say something takes a village, but this exchange took the village of Park City to put it together. We may have had the idea, but we could not have possibly pulled it off without the city helping us.”

Chin says the program will continue under Park City High School Mandarin Chinese teacher David Knell and Park City resident Eyee Hsu. Participating Park City students recently returned from their trip to Beijing, and the Chinese delegation will arrive in Park City on Jan. 31.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.