Pupils’ Shanghai trip ‘life-changing’

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Four Dunedin secondary school pupils have returned from a “life-changing” trip to Shanghai.

Columba College pupils Joelle Gatenby and Galina Mandich (both 16), Otago Girls’ High School pupil Anna Thomas (18) and Bayfield High School pupil Chris Hawkins (16) attended the Shanghai International Sister Cities Youth Camp in July.

They were accompanied by Kaikorai Valley College teacher Jane Boulton and met pupils from other Shanghai sister cities around the world, including Belgium, Thailand and Germany.

During their trip, they spent time exploring the city and taking part in cultural activities with a Chinese host, and teaching other pupils about New Zealand. They stayed in campus accommodation.

The group said the highlight of their trip was spending time at their host’s house.

“We just felt really welcomed immediately,” Galina said.

“It was really interesting to see their way of life.”

Ms Boulton said their host’s grandmother spent all day cooking for them.

“It was just so lovely.”

Joelle said it was great that everything was planned for them and there were lots of opportunities to interact with people from other countries.

Galina said “they all commented on our accents”.

Chris enjoyed putting his four years of Chinese language study into practice.

He started learning the language via an app, before signing up to classes about a year later.

His dad told him he would buy him a ticket to China when he could read 1000 characters.

“I got to have that feeling of accomplishment.”

The trip was organised by Study Dunedin, part of Enterprise Dunedin, and the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission to give pupils an opportunity to be immersed in Chinese culture.

The camps were established about 10 years ago.