Bundoran students' once in a lifetime trip to China
By Michael McHugh
Next Tuesday, twenty-two students from Magh Ene College in Bundoran will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to central China. In an age where China is becoming an increasingly dominant world economy, the trip will give a unique insight to the young students into a world that few of them will have ever encountered.
It will be one of the first of its kind where Irish students are partnered with their Chinese equivalent.
Principal of Magh Ene College, Jacqui Dillon explained that they have been working with their partner school - CC English School in Guiyang City, Quixhou province for over a year now. As well as cultural visits, the students will be given an opportunity to get some lessons in Mandarin, test out some local musical instruments as well as a brush up on a few Chinese cooking lessons!
"This is a small school by Chinese standards - only 4,000 students! It is located on fifteen campuses - most of which we get to visit whilst there. 2011 is the EU China Youth Year and a chance in a lifetime for all of our travelling students," the Principal explained.
"The school issued us with an invitation last year but in the present economic climate we were reluctant to go to parents with this - but we did! Almost thirty expressed an interest - we opened it to all years excluding our exam classes and now we have twenty two students travelling," she said.
Explaining the background to the trip, she said that some junior classes had been corresponding with the Chinese students since they first got in contact with each other. Main link teacher Julian Day in China contacted the Irish Department of Education & Skills and asked to be put in touch with an Irish school that would link with them and so the exciting adventure began.
Flying out to Shanghai next Tuesday, February 15th, the group will return a fortnight later. To coincide with their trip the Irish Embassy in Beijing is running an essay competition in the Guiyang School on different aspects of Irish literature and history.
The Magh Ene students (and teachers) have also been asked to work with the students in helping them with their essays.
"It is all very exciting and our students and parents are really looking forward to it. We have seven first years, five-second years and the rest from TY and Fifth years travelling. They will be partnered with students their own age from the Chinese school and are staying with their families - culture shock won't come close. The Chinese school are also organising a film crew to travel with us and we will each be presented with a DVD at the end our trip," she revealed.
The Chinese students have also made the Donegal students commemorative scarves, as well as erecting posters throughout their 15 sites - 1.2m sq saying the Irish are coming!
"This all comes at a good time for us as we are approaching our twentieth anniversary of the school opening," the Principal concluded.
Some of the highlights of the trip will include a Lanterns Festival, Chinese Mandarin class and other cultural activities including traditional Chinese musical instruments, dancing and food. Irish teachers will also have a conference on exchanging teaching methods. The Bundoran teachers will also be teaching English to classes of Chinese students.
Later the students will travel to Anshun County where the famous Huangguoshu waterfall is located, they will visit and learn to make Miao Tapestries, attend an Official United Nations Summit involving Irish & Chinese students and visit the famous Guiyang National Park in the heart of the city. Finally, they will visit the Xijiang Miao Villag, the biggest of its kind in China.