The fourth Irish Secondary School Principals Trip to China, organised by the UCD Confucius Institute, was successfully completed on the 2nd of November. During the 7 day visit to Beijing, 6 Irish principals visited the headquarters of the Confucius Institute and two prestigious Chinese schools - The high school affiliated to Renmin University and the No. 4 High School Beijing. The principals also toured around the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Temple of Heaven, as well as local Hutongs and the 798 Arts Centre. These attractions were chosen to showcase the best of both traditional and modern China.
On the morning of Monday the 27th of October, the principals visited the headquarters of the Confucius Institute. Guided by Tian Fangzhou, a project official, they participated in the traditional cultural activities of paper cutting, Chinese calligraphy and traditional Chinese music. They also took part in an interactive Q&A session, where they gained a better understanding of Chinese culture. In the Chinese Text Book Exhibition Centre, the principals were very impressed with and spoke highly of the teaching resources and textbooks designed by Hanban (The Office of Chinese Language Council International).
On Wednesday, the principals were invited to visit the high school affiliated to Renmin University. During their grand tour of the campus, they discussed the school’s extracurricular activities with their host. Following this, they attended a meeting with the principal of the school, Zhai Xiaoning, and covered topics such as managing overseas students and teachers, supporting and empowering teachers and teaching Chinese in China and overseas.
On Friday, the Irish principals were invited to visit the No. 4 High School, Beijing. Ma Li, the dean of the School Affairs Office introduced the history and development of the school. After this, the principals took part in an English class where they engaged with teachers and students of the school. These activities were organised so that the principals could gain a clearer picture of the differences and similarities between education in Ireland and China.
After the trip, the Irish principals told us that the trip had given them a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and its development, along with a brand new outlook on China. In the future, they all hope to work closely with the UCD Confucius Institute, to push forward the teaching of Chinese in Ireland, hopefully making Chinese a part of the Irish secondary school curriculum and a subject for the Irish Leaving Certificate.