Organized by the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland, 16 Irish Secondary School principals travelled to China for a 7-day visit to Beijing and Shanghai from the 11th to the 17th of October, 2010.
Organized by the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland, 16 Irish Secondary School principals travelled to China for a 7-day visit to Beijing and Shanghai from the 11th to the 17th of October, 2010. It was the first formal delegation of Irish secondary school principals to visit the People’s Republic of China. The trip was organized with the aim of enhancing the delegation’s understanding of Chinese culture and the Chinese secondary education system, as well as the possibility of establishing links between Irish and Chinese secondary schools.
On the 11th of October, the Irish principals arrived in Beijing and paid a visit to the headquarters of the Confucius Institute in the afternoon. Dr. Liming Wang, director of the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland welcomed the delegation and introduced the headquarters’ mission and currently running programmes.
The Irish delegation attended a seminar on the Chinese and Irish Secondary Education system on the 12th of October. With great interest to develop possible twinning projects and exchange programmes, 12 Chinese principals introduced their schools and warmly welcomed Irish principals to visit.
Since each of the principals within the delegation have introduced Chinese language and culture courses to their schools, a special demonstration of a Chinese language class was organized for the delegation to observe, so that they could gain a better understanding of the language learning and teaching process. The demonstration was held in the College of International Education of Minzu University of China (MUC). After the demonstration, Mr. Yinghui Wu, Dean of the College of International Education, introduced the department of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and a number of international students currently studying at MUC. He also welcomed students from Ireland to study in China after graduating from secondary school.
To gain an in-depth understanding of how Chinese secondary schools are operated, the Irish delegation also paid a visit to the Beijing New Talent Academy. This is an internationalized boarding institute integrating kindergarten, elementary school, junior & senior high school, a Cambridge International Centre, a university foundation program and a Chinese language program.
Apart from the educational visits and academic seminars, the Irish principals also visited the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, a number of the Olympic Stadiums and other historical scenic spots in Beijing. The delegation travelled to Shanghai on the 16th of October and visited the Chinese and Irish pavilions at the Shanghai Expo venue.
It was undoubtedly a memorable trip for the principals from Ireland. Mr. Oliver Murphy, principal of Castleknock College said “I loved it. It was an amazing experience. The highlights were my visit to the Beijing Foreign Language School and the China exhibition at the Expo.”Mr. Michael McMahon, principal of Christian Brothers Secondary School Wexfordalso expressed how much he has gained from the trip:“I was very, very impressed with the organisation of the trip, the attention to our needs, and the great number of outings organised on our behalf which made for a busy but rewarding schedule. I gained a great insight into Chinese culture and heritage as well as an insight into the Chinese educational system and the work of the Confucius Institute.” Many principals also expressed that they would explore further development of the Chinese studies programme and possible twinning projects with schools in China cooperating with the UCD Confucius Institute.