Eastpoint’s Elaine and Hank Kozlowsky welcomed a pair of international students from China into their home over the Christmas holidays and the two young ladies had interesting things to say about China, school and the United States.
Tansy and Jada are both from China and are international students studying in New England but there the resemblance ends.
Jada, whose real name is Ziyu Jin, is 17 years old. She is a junior in high school and has been studying English for 10 years. Her father is the CEO of an engineering firm and her mother works in an office. Back home in Nanjing, near Shanghai in the north of China, she has her own driver. At her current home in Massachusetts, she is about to take her driver’s license exam.
She is a serious girl budding in to womanhood and hates to be photographed. Jada plans to pursue a career in medicine or psychology.
Tansy, whose actual name is Yuqing Yao , is 15 and grew up in Guangzhou near Hong Kong. She has studied English for seven years. She is vivacious and likes to be photographed.
Her mother is a homemaker and her father is an entrepreneur with multiple investments including a home design firm, a karaoke business, a massage clinic and a retail sunglass business.
She is unsure about learning to drive. “I don’t know about cars,” she said.
Tansy hopes to attend college in business studies.
Both girls live in Hingham, Mass. with a host family, Sandy and John Kozlowsky and their 13-year-old daughter Sophia. John Kozlowsky is the nephew of Elaine and Hank.
“I received an email asking if we would be willing to house an international student and it was really close to the start of the school year,” Sandy Kozlowsky said. “We said here are some kids that really need a place to stay.”
Sandy said she and John also hoped the arrangement would allow Sophia, an only child, to experience having sisters.
After just a few exchanges via Skype, a service that allows users to communicate by voice using a microphone, and video by using a webcam, Jada and Tansy arrived in Massachusetts. For both girls, it was their first visit to the US.
Sandy, herself an educator, said she admired the girls’ pluck. “What I find commendable is young ladies leaving their families while still children and moving in with a new family after Skyping only a few times,” she said.
Both girls are now attending a private all-girl Catholic school.
Tansy has taken up residence in the Kozlowsky guest room and Jada has the finished basement for her digs. “It’s the biggest room in the house,” Jada said.
Sophia, who also has a room of her own, attends a Montessori school where her mother works as an administrator. She said she has enjoyed having Jada and Tansy as “sisters.”
“It was weird going from an only child to having two sisters,” she said. “It’s not only them learning our culture, we are learning about them too.”
Sophia said she has learned only a few words of Chinese and does not plan to go to school in China.
John Kozlowsky, patriarch to this bevy of beauties, said, “I have my own bathroom now. It’s a lot of fun. The house is always busy. It’s always been busy but there’s a nice energy in the house now.”
Elaine Kozlowsky said having the girls visit “has been the most fun for Christmas we’ve had. They are just delightful. We had cookie fights last night and decorated ornaments for the Kozlowsky family tree.”
What to Jada and Tansy have to say? They both agreed that the US is clean and uncrowded compared to home.
"The sky is blue here,” said Tansy. “My city has so much manufacturing there is always smog. It is so pretty to see the trees and the ocean.”
Jada said that in Nanjing, one could barely see the stars.
Although Jada’s family is well-off, they live in an apartment, not a house. Tansy said her family shares a “tiny condominium.”
“People in the United States don’t have a good idea of what it’s like in China,” said Jada. “They think China is a place that is very old, but, actually China has many places that are very new; many big, new cities.”
She used her cell phone to show off a slide show of her homeland. Both girls said Americans have no concept of the size of China.
“I look at going there and I want to see the Great Wall and the ceramic warriors but they are so far apart,” Sandy Kozlowsky said,
Jada said the trip between the two tourist attractions would take two or three hours. She said she had seen the Great Wall, which lies in the north, but not the warriors. Tansy said she had seen the warriors, a more southern destination, but not the Great Wall.
Asked if Christmas is celebrated in China the girls said young people celebrate because it is a reason for a party. They said, in the large cities, the streets are decorated for Christmas in the shopping districts.
Although they attend a Catholic school here, neither girl is a Christian. They said they attend monthly Mass at school but participate in no religious activity of any kind in their family.
Jada said extended families are much closer in China. Her family makes two visits a year to her grandparents who live several hours away.
Tansy said her grandparents live near her home and are visited weekly.