The photo taken in February 2019 shows Tony Sun (4th R) from China taking part in a post graduate basketball training program at DME Sports Academy (DMESA), in Daytona Beach of Florida, the United States. Sports skill training and culture exchange opportunities offered by DME Sports Academy for talented students and young individuals from around the world have advanced people-to-people connection between China and the United States. Established three years ago, DMESA offers top-level athletic development training and life skills mentoring to both U.S. domestic and overseas young talent. Some 60 to 75 kids are expected to join in DMESA next year, including about one tenth from China. (Xinhua/Zou Guangping)
NEW YORK, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Sports skill training and cultural exchange opportunities offered by DME Sports Academy for talented students and young individuals from around the world have advanced people-to-people connection between China and the United States.
"We plan to do a great job to deliver meaningful education for kids. They get a chance to not just learn about Americans, but about kids from all over the world," Mike Panaggio, co-founder and owner of DME Sports Academy (DMESA), told Xinhua in a recent interview at Daytona Beach, the east coastal county of Florida.
Established three years ago, DMESA offers top-level athletic development training and life skills mentoring to both U.S. domestic and overseas young talent. Panaggio expects some 60 to 75 kids joining in DMESA next year, including about one tenth from China.
One of his favorite exchange students was a 13-year-old Chinese boy, Chris Gao, who had lived with Panaggio and his Chinese wife, Jennifer, in their home. "He's a straight A student, we were very proud of him. He's like our son," Panaggio recalled.
Panaggio inherited the passion for sports, basketball in particular, from his father, and combined his business talent with his love for what sports do for kids to pay back the community of Daytona Beach.
"Basketball in sports is a privilege for kids to play. Our job is to get them to college. And if they want to continue in the United States with additional degrees, we're all for that and we promote them," he said.
Panaggio believes that for kids from around the world to the academy, education here is not only about schoolwork and learning in the books. It's about "learning how to speak the English language" and about "learning about other people," he noted. "It's just a great cultural exchange."
Being a sharp businessman, he went to China in late 1980s, realizing the potential of Chinese market. "I love China and I think that anyone I've met in China has always been great. I like the people," he said emotionally.
Despite the ongoing tensions between the United States and China in trade and some other sectors, Panaggio was "quite optimistic" about the prospects of the two countries" relationship. "At least we're hoping there isn't gonna be a problem. Because I think of Chinese students no different from that we think of American students. People are people," he added.