In one of the greatest scoops ever in Sino-Irish relations, visiting Bundoran students from Magh Ene College to China were viewed on the country’s main network news CCTV, by over 1.4 billion viewers. That’s ‘b’ as in billion, not ‘m’ as in million. And if Magh Ene College had a euro for very Chinese person that watched them, they could have made a big inroad into the Irish national deficit. It is an amazing story coming from a small school on the periphery of North West Europe.
Principal of Magh Ene College, Jacqui Dillon readily admitted that it was one of the most amazing experiences in the lives of both her teachers and students.
“Seriously, it was unbelievable. We were met at Guiyang airport in South west China by three film crews. By the next day, our arrival was being broadcast throughout China on their national news channel. I am genuine in saying that Irish people would be totally amazed with the exposure we got.
“Two things added to the huge interest. The coverage was boosted by it being the EU-China Year of Youth and the fact that Magh Ene College was the first ever western school to be in partnership with a Chinese School on a project like this. It was only when we were contacted by the Irish Embassy in Beijing that we realised the full extent of the media interest. The number of papers that we featured in both nationally and regionally was also truly staggering.
“Students were interviewed for national TV and the cameras followed us around! In fact, they got so enthusiastic as one stage that the school had to ask them to give us a break. But it was a magical experience with some wonderful trips in a majestic landscape.”
She said that the enthusiasm and hospitality from the Chinese was resplendent and they had gone out of their way to be the perfect hosts, as it was also the Chinese New year - the year of the Rabbit.
“The easiest way to describe it, is that we were treated like Royalty. The school also took part in a Mini United Nations conference. We went to a rural local village where locals were asking for our autographs. I think that many had never seen a Westerner in the flesh, it was a real cultural experience, and that will not be forgotten in a hurry. It was a beautiful trip which students will carry with them, well into the future. Our thanks to so many wonderful people who helped make this a once in a life-time experience,” Mrs Dillon said.
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