On January 31st 2013, twelve high school students and two teachers from the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China came to Dublin to study for a period of seven days in their sister school, Belvedere College (a secondary school and Confucius Classroom under the University College Dublin Confucius Institute).
During the week long exchange visit, Renmin University High School (RUHS) teachers and students engaged in various classroom activities, learning the different disciplines of science, art, music, sports and language together with the Belvedere students. The visiting students deeply appreciated the Irish style of education in science, art, music and sports, with active participation in class discussions and hands-on practice, and this gave them a more international perspective, heightening their innovative thinking and practical abilities.
RUHS’s visit to Ireland is a return visit following Belvedere College’s visit to China in October 2012. This is the first visit of its kind in Ireland, where the Chinese students not only worked diligently with the Belvedere students in school, but also came and lived with their families, to better experience their culture and Irish way of life. The two groups of students believe that this form of communication and interaction plays a very important role in helping them to understand the culture of the other country, to enhance the friendship between the students and enhance mutual understanding. It is directly because of this special interaction of students from China and Ireland that Ireland’s national television broadcaster RTE sent a crew to film the event and then broadcast it on national TV shortly afterwards.
The day before leaving Ireland, at the invitation of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland, RUHS and Belvedere College teachers and students gathered at the Ambassador's residence, cordially received by Ambassador Luo Linquan. Ambassador Luo listened intently to a statement by the representative of the students and teachers of RUHS to gain an insight into their time here, and said he was pleased to hear that the students shared a mutually beneficial exchange of experience. Ambassador Luo went on to say that RUHS and Belvedere College are both famous secondary schools, and the positive relationship between the two schools’ students also serves to improve the positive relations between the two countries, and improves the mutual understanding of each other’s cultures. It is clear that both schools will produce many talented individuals in the future. Following these discussions, the two groups of students joined the Ambassador in an exchange of “ping-pong diplomacy" at his official residence, learning the skills of table tennis, laughing and joking with each other, and posing for pictures with the Ambassador.
Belvedere College is one of Dublin's top secondary schools, and has a long history with impressive achievements in science, literature, art, music, sports and other disciplines, producing a large number of distinguished literary giants such as James Joyce. Great Chinese leaders such as general secretary Xi Jinping and Premier Wen Jiabao have also visited the school during their visits to Ireland.
The University College Dublin Confucius Institute acts as a bridge between Chinese and foreign cultures, playing a key role in the establishment of friendly relations between the two schools. The Institute is now actively promoting the Irish secondary school China trip project, with the hope of encouraging more secondary schools to establish sister school relations with Chinese schools, thereby bringing the two countries’ students’ closer in terms of communication, understanding and interaction.