Pupils gain knowledge of Chinese culture

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It was an amazing experience for both the kids and adults.

Would we do it again? Absolutely. –Blue Mountain College international co-ordinator Cherie Criglington Eight pupils from Blue Mountain College, Tapanui, have recently returned from a trip of a lifetime to China.

The pupils went on the trip, run through the Global Youth Ambassador Project (GYAP), during the school holidays.

Through GYAP, schools across the world are linked to allow the pupils to interact and exchange knowledge of each other’s cultures.

The eight pupils were accompanied by Blue Mountain College international co-ordinator Cherie Criglington and assistant principal Garry Moody.

They spent five of the 10 days in Zibo, which is three and a-half hours south of Beijing by fast train.

In Zibo, the team visited six schools, five of which were language schools.

Mr Moody said the language schools were paid for by the Chinese pupils’ parents.

“These are to help improve tuition and are in addition to their normal schooling,” he said.

Pupil Piper Munro (16), one of the eight pupils on the trip, said the highlight for her was getting to know the Chinese pupils’ stories.

“You needed to approach each kid with a different strategy, depending on their understanding of English,” Piper said.

During their stay, all of the New Zealand group had to use chopsticks for every meal.

“It certainly made eating a lot slower, but you got to appreciate the food more.

“We even got to try cicadas, which did in fact taste good, it was more knowing I was eating a bug,” Piper said.

This year was the first time Blue Mountain College pupils had become involved with GYAP, which has been running internationally for five years, the last two in New Zealand.

The pupils had to pay for their own airfares and travel, but GYAP paid accommodation and food, Mr Moody said.

“In terms of value for money, for the 10 days it was amazing,” he said.

Mrs Criglington said as a teacher, by talking to the Chinese teachers she learnt to appreciate their educational systems.

“They were vastly different from ours,” she said.

The last three days were spent sightseeing in Beijing, where the group got to be tourists and visit some of the spectacular sights.

“We went to the Great Wall, Forbidden City, the National Museum of China, Temple of Heaven to name a few.

“It was an amazing experience for both the kids and adults.

“Would we do it again? Absolutely,” Mrs Criglington said.

GYAP is formed through a network of schools from across the world, with a mutual goal of international collaboration and cultural exchange. Schools taking part are in China, US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe where best practice can be shared across a wide range of educational settings. More than 1000 schools world-wide belong to GYAP, 500 of which are in China.