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1961-2011 Fifty years ‘with wisdom and courage’
In May 2010 three TY students, Michelle Ikurusi, Sinead Kearney and Aoife O’Sullivan competed in the” Chinese Proficiency Competition” in UCC. They performed a short sketch in Chinese and got full marks in the quiz on China. They won the group prize and the overall prize for the best school.
In September, Sinead and Aoife were selected (as both had taken part in the Chinese course held in the school) to be part of the visiting camp to the Worldwide competition in China.
Accompanied by Mrs Lane, they flew to Beijing on 17th October. There they met the other people in “The Visiting Camp” which consisted of two students and a teacher from over 40 countries from every continent. This group was divided in three and allocated a bus-with police escort- for the duration of their stay. They first visited the Haban Confucius Centre where, as well as a permanent interactive exhibition, there were craftspeople on hand demonstrating many Chinese skills.
In Beijing they visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
They then flew to Chongqing (2½ hour flight). While there they attended the Opening Ceremony and first round of the Competition which took place in the Town Hall and was televised live.
While in Chongqing they visited the Zoo, a refuge for the panda bear and the Old City which was an experience in itself as the houses are 100 years old while the streets are over 1,000 years old. It is full of small shops where you must bargain, you never pay the asking price.
They saw rock carvings depicting life centuries ago; some of these were enormous and very ornate. Their excursion through the Three Gorges involved a 2 hour trek through this fascinating terrain; over 120 people all walking up and down flights of steps with their colourful umbrellas standing out against the rocky background.
The Chongqing Museum was a significant educational experience with several floors of exhibits and some shops in which one could buy many silk items and souvenirs.
In the university everyone got to learn how to do calligraphy or paper cutting.
While on the trip they were served high quality food which was very spicy, nothing like the Chinese food served here in Ireland. Fish heads, chicken claws, squid, jellyfish and eels were just some of the food served. They were treated to Peking Duck at a very expensive restaurant. Another experience was when they had the Hot Pot speciality in a well known restaurant; it was like one big fondue in the centre of the table with raw offal (edible internal organs) on plates which were then cooked in a hot spicy sauce. They had to fish out the food with chopsticks.
While it was a hectic and busy two weeks it was the experience of a lifetime to visit China and great friendships were formed. The students made valuable contacts should they ever want to travel to China or other nations in the future.
This trip was made possible by the Confucius Institute in UCC to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.