A group of students from China got a taste of life in Hartlepool during an eventful three-day stay.
Fourteen young people and two staff from a Shijiazhuang Middle School linked up with English Martyrs School for the visit.
During their stay, they joined in lessons and school activities, visited the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, went ice skating, and visited pupils’ homes.
English Martyrs students described it as an experience of a lifetime.
Deputy headteacher Paul Dickson said: “They were buzzing. It is the start of what we hope will be a long friendship.
“We are trying to give our students increasing enrichment opportunities to broaden their horizons.
“With globalisation it is important our students are prepared for the 21st Century.”
He added: “The students have been to pupils’ homes and got an insight into an English house and family time.
“All the students have benefitted just as much as the visitors.”
The Chinese visitors, who were aged between 12 and 17, exchanged traditional leaving gifts with their English host students such as fans, decorative ornaments and good luck charms.
English Martyrs student Georgina Wise, 15, said: “They were all so lovely. I think the school was extremely thoughtful by arranging all this. More schools should do it.”
Jack Tindall, 14, added: “I can honestly say they are the most polite people I have ever met.
“They went out of their way to learn the language. I feel so grateful to have had this opportunity.”
The Chinese visitors also visited London, Edinburgh and the Lake District during their stay in England.
Later this summer, English Martyrs staff will attend summer school in China and they hope to host more of their teachers over time.
Shijiazhuang is the capital and largest city of North China’s Hebei Province with a population of over 10 million people.