The UCL IOE Confucius Institute/Hanban Annual China Study Camps took place in the last two weeks of July 2018. The camps were a great success with 220 students from 17 schools across England participating in the rich cultural itinerary, as well as studying 20 hours of Mandarin. The students were split into four groups and each group spent time in Beijing visiting the capital’s sites before heading of to their four respective provinces, where they immersed themselves in the Chinese culture and language. The cities that the four groups went to were Xi’an, Chengdu, Shenyang and Changzhou. Students spent time chatting to locals, trying the delicious street food, haggling at night markets, forging relationships with their Chinese peers as well as practicing Tai Chi and visiting world heritage sites.
The China study camps allows students to travel to a country which they would not ordinarily get the chance to go to and it also allows them to learn about Chinese language and culture through immersion. Many students come back to the UK with a new-found love of China and Chinese culture and this inspires them to pursue learning Mandarin. Over the past twelve years of the study camps, many students who have participated in them have gone on to do very well in Mandarin at school and some have even pursued it to university level! One such student, Jasper Lyons, who took part in the first ever China Study Camps when he was at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys in 2007 now owns his own successful business in Chengdu, providing access for Chinese students to attend British schools and universities. Jasper’s involvement and experience in the summer camps inspired him to move to Shanghai three years ago to study Chinese and to teach English. He them moved to Chengdu two years ago to start his business.
While this year’s summer camps’ students were in Chengdu, Jasper very kindly came to meet up with the group and spoke to them about his experiences on his summer camps eleven years ago and the experiences he has had living in China for the last three years. Meeting Jasper and hearing about his experiences allowed the students to realise the importance of the summer camps and the impact it could potentially have on their own lives.