A Knoxville Middle School student was recently chosen as one of 17 students in the nation to participate in the Chinese immersion program. Twelve year old Grace Gibson of Knoxville attended the Foreign Language Summer Institute to study Mandarin Chinese. The program is sponsored by the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Children and is a two week residential program at the University of Iowa where students in grades 6 through 8 study the Chinese language and culture. Grace’s mother Beth Gibson tells KNIA/KRLS news the application process was a lengthy one, similar to a college application where Grace had to complete essays and submit letters of recommendation from her teachers Sara Finnegan and Mary Linda Griffith. She says that process in itself was a valuable lesson for her daughter, and they were very pleased to receive an acceptance letter in the mail. Beth says Grace has been studying Latin at home for the past two years and feels that studying a foreign language is a wonderful gateway for students to learn about other cultures. With Mandarin Chinese being the mostly widely spoken language in the world, Beth says knowledge of the language helps people learn about traveling, business, history, architecture and music of another culture. Mrs. Gibson says her daughter loves to be challenged and Chinese has proven to be very intellectually stimulating. During the two week experience, the students spent between 8-11 in class, working on homework and in study sessions. They were also able to participate in co-curricular activities such as Kung Fu classes and cooking lessons along with taking a field trip to Chicago’s Chinatown. Beth says while it was emotionally difficult for her and her husband Rick to send their 12 year old to a college campus for two weeks, the institute was an incredible opportunity for Grace and helped teach her many lessons.