Xavier Li, an exchange student at Manila High School, came from a city of 2 million. He is from Taipei, Taiwan, the capital city. He has not minded being part of life with his American family. Xavier is part of the Marcus family, Trent, Misty, Charlsey and Natalie, in the city of 3,000. Trent is a doctor in the U.S. Navy serving in Millington.
He said MHS is a relaxing and fun school. When he was in his old school, a boarding school, everything was very strict and competitive.
"At home, there was no communication between the teachers and students," he said. "The classes had about 400 students and the teachers exchanged classes, not the students.
Xavier said he enjoyed his senior year at MHS and will miss everything.
He has always wanted to be a flight attendant and eventually he wants to be a tour guide like his dad. He also plans on returning to the states and attending Arkansas State University and major in nursing. He has been accepted into ASU.
"Xavier is the only exchange student that we know of who has passed the Toefl International College Entrance Examination," Mrs. Marcus said.
Xavier has had no problems with the English language. He has taken English since the first grade.
"In the work force employees are required to be able to speak English," he said.
He is fluent in several languages including Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese (a spoken language not a written language), and traditional Chinese.
He said most people think Taiwan is part of the Republic of China but it is not. Taiwan is an independent country.
He feels very fortunate to have had such a great American family during his stay. He host sister, Natalie, is also a senior at MHS.
"We wanted his year to benefit him," Mrs. Marcus said. "We worked with our school and made sure his credits were good and he would receive an actual diploma. High School Counselor Angie Gipson was very helpful."
While in the states, he learned to drive and Mr. Marcus took him hunting and canoeing. Among the places the family traveled were Seattle, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Florida, New York, and St. Louis. Some of the highlights of their trips were visiting Universal Studios, the Statue of Liberty, ice skating in Central Park, and eating in Times Square.
He said he is very grateful for his family.
"We have had an amazing time," Natalie said.
The family has formed a bond that will last a lifetime.
During his senior year he has participated in choir, band, Key Club, French Club, and Library Club. One of his favorite teachers was Debra Lee, librarian.
It has been an exciting year for him as he got to attend the Arkansas State basketball tournament and went to state with the MHS Choir. He received a certificate from the state choir and they were able to perform a Chinese song.
"It has been a great year," he said. "I will miss everyone at Manila High School."
He will be returning home on June 9 but hopes to return to attend Arkansas State University. He also hopes his American family will be able to visit him in Taiwan.
He is the son of Peter Lee and Susan Tsao. Hi mother is a travel agent in Tiawan and his dad is a tour guide in Japan.