Norfolk teens head to China

A dozen students will jet out to China later this month as the first pupil delegation in a ground-breaking educational link between schools in Norfolk and Shanghai.

A dozen students will jet out to China later this month as the first pupil delegation in a ground-breaking educational link between schools in Norfolk and Shanghai.

The party of 17-year-olds from Notre Dame High School in Norwich will spend a fortnight in China, visiting the Wei Yu High School in Shanghai's Xu Hui district and staying with local families.

Teachers from Norfolk have been to China on two previous occasions to establish the links, but this visit is seen as significant in that it could pave the way for more pupil exchanges.

One of the pupils making the trip on March 24 is Roshan Walkerley from Caister St Edmund.

He said: “It is going to be an incredible experience, we are spending time with families in Shanghai, which I am really looking forward, but also it is about seeing how they live their lives.”

The 12 pupils, who will be joined by three teachers, were selected after applying in writing and saying how they feel they would benefit from taking part in the trip, which is part funded, with £400 coming from each student,

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Alison Cunningham, Norfolk County Council's school development officer, said: “We are very excited by this visit because while we have already sent teachers out to China, this sees pupils going out. If it goes well, it sets up the way for other schools that are involved to take children to China, so we are very keen that it works.”

One area the visit will focus on is state of the environment in China with its developing economy as the country's industrial output soars.

Student Tom Brown, 17, from Norwich, is interested in architecture and will be showing a keen interest in the construction work that is going on around the clock in Shanghai with some of the tallest buildings in the work being built at a breathtaking rate.

Another student, Natalie Bolton from Norwich, explained: “It is a visit that will really broaden our minds and we will see how people from a different culture live. I am really looking forward to it.

“We are going to spend a couple of nights in a hotel and then five days in the boarding school before staying with a family at the weekend. I am still a bit nervous about that.”

Some of the pupils have been learning Chinese etiquette and some words of Mandarin ahead of the visit.

Ali Hewson said she had a choice of Russian or Mandarin but chose the Chinese language, and said: “I felt it would be better to learn a language from a country that is going to be more influential, but it is quite a hard language to learn.”

Teacher Jonathan Hooton, who is going on the trip, said: “We have set up the link and we hope it is not going to be a one-off. The focus of this tip is going to be on the environment. We pupils have also been doing some preparation for the trip and we have been practicing eating with chopsticks.