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to China

By DAN SIMMONS

La Crosse Tribune

Karen Wrolson's kids have blazed paths from Logan High School straight to Asia - and she's about to follow them.

Her daughter, Sarah Liu, teaches English in Japan and is married to a Taiwanese man. Her son, Carson Blomquist, is majoring in Chinese at the University of Minnesota.

Next school year, the Logan LaCrossroads High School teacher has signed on to be an exchange English teacher in La Crosse's sister city of Luoyang, Henan Province, China.

The district approved her year abroad this week. However, it still must be approved by the U.S.-China Teachers Exchange Program, an organization in New York that has arranged for Chinese teachers to come to La Crosse schools since 1998-99 and will help coordinate Wrolson's trip there.

Wrolson said she got interested when Logan principal Scott Mihalovic returned from a December exchange visit to Luoyang and urged that a staff member teach there for a year.

"I thought, 'Why not me?'" Wrolson said. "It's perfect."

She'll take a leave of absence from LaCrossroads, a school for at-risk high school students that she started 13 years ago. In Luoyang, she'll teach conversational English to Chinese high school students, known for studying up to 14 hours a day and having unwavering respect for teachers.

Wrolson said she's heard of Chinese students, after power is cut to their dorm rooms each night, slipping into the bathrooms to catch extra study time - quite a contrast from the students she works with in La Crosse.

"If my (LaCrossroads) students are hiding in a bathroom at night, they're not studying," she said with a laugh.

But she can't wait to get started.

"I love adventure," she said. "This will expand my horizons, to experience another piece of the world."

Dan Simmons can be reached at (608) 791-8217 or dsimmons@lacrossetribune.com

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