American high school student receives surprise gift from 'Grandpa Hu' at Zhongnanhai

09:24, July 16, 2011      

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Chinese President Hu Jintao (C) talks with students of Walter Payton College Preparatory High School of Chicago, the United States, in Zhongnanhai, the central leadership compound in downtown Beijing, China, July 15, 2011. (Xinhua)

"This is the best birthday gift I could wish for," said 17-year-old Mackenzie Trumbull as she ventured through the 400-year-old Yingtai compound in the most secretive part of Beijing.

On Friday, Trumbull and another 15 students from Walter Payton College of Chicago, Illinois of the United States, paid a visit to Zhongnanhai, the office complex of Chinese leadership in the heart of Beijing.

The students, accompanied by several Payton faculty members, are in China as guests of President Hu Jintao who visited the public school in January. During his trip to Chicago, President Hu encouraged Payton college students to study the Chinese language and invited them to spend a summer vocation in China.

On the homepage of the official website of Payton College, a headline reads "Payton leaves for China" and features Trumbull's blog about the trip.

"This is an unbelievable experience," Trumbull said as a tour guide led the group around Zhongnanhai's Yingtai, a compound of elegant towers, pavilions and platforms dating back to the Ming Dynasty (13-1644 AD).

Chinese leaders typically use the place to treat distinguished personages behind closed doors. Previous visitors include U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush.

"To our boys and girls, the tour to Zhongnanhai is definitely the most exciting and unforgettable experience in this trip to China," said Jane Lu, principal of the Confucius Institute at Payton College.

President Hu joined the American students at Zhanxulou, a two-storied ancient building.

"Ni Hao (How are you), Grandpa Hu," the students said, as they greeted the president.

Hu laughed and gave every student and faculty member a warm hug.

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Source: Xinhua
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