The China Camps have taken place each year since 2007 through the generous support of Hanban (the Office of Chinese Language Council International).
In October 2012, 395 UK secondary school students and 63 of their teachers visited China as part of the Hanban/IOE 2012 China Autumn Camps. After months of competition for places and careful preparation, the lucky students selected from 33 different schools across the UK finally boarded planes and jetted off for the experience of a lifetime.
We spent our first week in one of five different cities across China: Changsha (Hunan province), Changzhou (Jiangsu province), Shanghai (Shanghai province), Xiamen (Fuijian province) and Xi’an (Shaanxi province). During this time we were hosted by the kind people from excellent local high schools and universities, who arranged everything for a very warm welcome including food, accommodation and teams of enthusiastic staff to look after us.
Our hosts designed special programmes of activities for each day with a total of twenty hours’ Chinese language tuition through the week as well as cultural lessons, craft activities, sight-seeing excursions and in some cases even meetings with local Chinese student buddies.
At the end of our stay in the host provinces, all participating students took the Youth Chinese Test (YCT), the official junior version of China’s HSK Chinese proficiency accreditation for non-native speakers. Congratulations are due to all students for passing the YCT and earning your certificates.
Our next stop was the capital, Beijing, where all camp participants came together for the last few days. To celebrate the students’ YCT success, Hanban treated us to rooms in the luxurious Xiyuan Hotel and professionally guided tours of some of Beijing’s famous landmarks and attractions. Highlights included the Summer Palace, the Bird’s Nest stadium, the Great Wall, giant pandas at Beijing Zoo and practicing our Mandarin in some of Beijing’s bustling markets.
The 2012 China camps concluded with a spectacular closing ceremony starring our very own talented camps participants. We were to become minor celebrities in China as the ceremony was filmed and shown on China Central TV (CCTV), the main state broadcaster which boasts over one billion viewers from across mainland China. A director from China’s popular Hunan TV was brought in to manage the show and guarantee high standards of performance, production and entertainment value. There were witty hosts, speeches from senior officials, prizes for the best students, singing in Chinese and English, lots of dancing, colourful costumes and smiles all round.
We bade a fond farewell to our friends in China at the beginning of November, after an unforgettable two weeks. Planning now begins for the 2013 China camps!