TACOMA, Wash. -- China's President Xi Jinping exchanged gifts with students during a visit to Tacoma's Lincoln High School Wednesday. But it was something he said that had all the kids buzzing.
Xi invited 100 of the students to visit China as his country's guests next year.
“I'm looking forward to that; fingers crossed that I'm going to China next year,” said Lincoln High School student Troy Griffey.
Students and staff at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School said they prepared for weeks for Xi’s arrival with special presentations from the choir and the football team.
Xi presented gifts to the students, including a ping pong table, books on China and his personal invitation for a China visit.
Xi didn’t leave the school empty-handed. The high school football team presented the president with a football and a jersey with his name and the number 1 on the back.
“When I first heard it (that the president was going to visit), I was like, wow!” said Lincoln High School football player Dionte Simon. “I never thought that being a 17-year-old kid in high school, I would ever get to meet the president of another country.”
The high school choir teamed up with students from their sister city in Fuzhou, China, to present a song for the president. Students from China said it was a rare but special opportunity to meet their president, especially in another country.
This wasn’t Xi’s first visit to Lincoln High School. He had visited the high school in the past when Fuzhou was named the sister city of Tacoma and while he was serving as a provincial official in China.
The students said they believe Xi selected Lincoln High because of its diversity.