On October 29th 2014, twenty students from Jesus & Mary College Goatstown finished their 8-day trip to China organised by the UCD CII, Renmin University of China and Hanban, the Confucius Institute Headquarters. During their trip, the students visited the headquarters of the Confucius Institute, RUC and the High School affiliated to Beijing Normal University. They also visited some places of interest such as the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Terra-Cotta Warriors and gained a unique insight into ancient Chinese culture through their experience.
In the headquarters of the Confucius Institute in Beijing, the students learnt paper-cutting, Chinese calligraphy and tried out traditional Chinese music and dress. The question-answer activities about Chinese culture gave students a chance to delve deeper into the teachings of Confucius and others while browsing the abundant selection of teaching materials gave students more confidence to take their Chinese learning further.
In RUC and the High School affiliated to BNU, the students also learned some additional Chinese culture about Chinese calligraphy. In the class, they learnt how to use maobi (traditional writing brushes) to draw bamboo pictures and to write Chinese characters such as “正、人、美、爱”, fully understanding the meaning of the calligraphy and painting. In the Confucius class in the High School affiliated to BNU, the students learned more about Chinese music, listened to some performances and returned the favour by performing some Irish music. After that, the students chatted eagerly with a group of Irish university students studying in China to learn more about their life and studies away from home. The principals of Jesus & Mary College and the High School affiliated to BNU both hoped to establish a platform for students in the two countries to communicate with each other online.
The trip gave the Irish students a unique opportunity to leave the classroom and get face-to-face and hands-on with Chinese language and culture. Their experience greatly enhanced their interest in all things Chinese and will spur them on to greater study and involvement in the future. Winter Camps such as this will further promote the communication and interaction on education between the schools in the two countries and help develop the growing interest in Chinese language and culture in Ireland.