Ramos set to leave for Beijing in August as part of exchange program
By Josh Lanier
The concept of global understanding is the new model in education.
Trying to get students to think with a worldview is the direction of nearly every school system. Some students are able to grasp the concepts while others struggle.
Benjamin Ramos gets it.
The 15-year-old Carolina International School student speaks two languages — English and Spanish — and is working on his third: Mandarin.
By the time he graduates college, he hopes to have more passport stamps than someone twice his age. He’ll receive the first when he leaves in August for a one-year student exchange program in China.
“I didn’t want to take the easy way out,” he said. “I wanted to test my abilities in Mandarin and learn about the culture from a first-hand perspective.”
His Sino adventure will begin August 18 in Beijing with a 12-day orientation. Then he’ll be sent to his host family to begin school at the Yanquing No. 1 Vocational School.
“I’m pretty nervous,” he said. “More excited than nervous.”
Ramos sought out the exchange program on his own. He filled out the paperwork by himself and took the challenge with his own initiative.
“He’s a free-thinker, that’s for sure,” said Deanna Duncan, principle of CIS. “He likes to figure things out on his own and form his own opinion … he’s very smart but he can be bullheaded.”
Duncan said Ramos’ drive has helped him stand out at school and made him one of the top students in his 10th-grade class.
His impending adventure is a topic of conversation among students, and Duncan hopes others follow his direction.
Ninety percent of Ramos’ expenses will be covered through a scholarship with the exchange program, American-Scandinavian Student Exchange.
His parents will send him $200 a month for expenditures. Even though they are now on board with the trip, they weren’t always so ready to send their son alone into a foreign land.
“He must be crazy!” his father Douglas Ramos said laughing. “That’s the first thing I thought when he told me he wanted to go to China.”
But, he added, he always assumed his son would take an unconventional path. He’s taken it his whole life.
Douglas remembers a time when he brought Benjamin and his brother, Douglas Alfredo Ramos, to work with him and he overheard a conversation between the two about math.
“Here they are talking about math and I’m thinking, ‘these are really little kids, shouldn’t they be talking about cartoons or sports or something,’” he said. “My kids have always been really interested in that sort of thing though.”
Benjamin is staying in Merced, Calif., with his mother, Marina, and is taking summer classes so he will be up to speed with classmates when he returns. He’ll remain in California for the remainder of his high school career but hopes to travel to England or Italy for college to study history and theology.
“You have to travel to truly understand the world,” Benjamin said. “That’s where you can put what you know and who you are to the test.”
• Contact Josh Lanier: 704- 789- 9144.