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Home > Ambassador Liu > Events > 2010
Refresh and Share Experiences of Studying in China
Reception Hosted by Chinese Embassy in Honour of British Students in China


On the evening of September 24th, when the twilight just washed out the daytime noise from Portland Place in central London and the bustling streets became quiet, the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy was crowded with people. A group of British people were talking warmly with the staff of the Education Section in fluent mandarin. Their faces beamed with joy and they spoke mandarin perfectly. They turned out to be the British friends who have studied in China, knowing Chinese culture well and have long been engaged in China studies and China-UK exchanges. As a part of the celebration events to mark the 60th anniversary of China's reception of international students, the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy held here the Reception "to Refresh and Share Experiences of Studying in China", which was attended by over 70 representatives of outstanding British students who studied in China, and individuals and business leaders who have been keen to promote mandarin teaching in the UK and offer funding for British young people studying in China.

Amid applause, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming came to these international students and cordially talked with them about the experiences of studying abroad and the China-UK friendship. The already joyous atmosphere became even more active.

(Ambassador Liu delivers a speech)

As Ambassador Liu put it in his speech, as Aristotle said, "The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet." For many British students studying in China, going to the country might not be an easy decision to make, and they must have gone through a difficult time. Hard work is always rewarded. British students returned from China have now become leaders of their fields. Their knowledge and experience of China has also helped the British society to know more about China, and contributed to stronger business and cultural ties. They have proven themselves to be far-sighted in their choice and decision. Ambassador Liu said that education exchanges and cooperation are an important part of China-UK relations. Nearly 100 thousand Chinese students are studying in UK. There are now 12 Confucius Institutes and 53 Confucius Classrooms in Britain, attracting nearly 100 thousand British people last year. More than 100 pairs of university partnerships have also been set up between the two countries. A flourishing China-UK partnership means promising prospects for studying in China and learning mandarin. He also encouraged and hoped the students who have studied in China to find time to go back to China and visit their alma mater to refresh the memories of their days in China and see the latest development in the country and to serve as a bridge of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and contribute more to China-UK relations.

(H-J Colstion Makes Remarks)

Two representatives of the British students who studied in China made speeches. Ms. H-J Colston, Director of Chopsticks Club, who studied in Renmin University of China in the early 1990s, affectionately recalled her life and studies in China. She said that when she was in China for the first time, she could not understand a word of Chinese, and then she was determined to learn Chinese and understand China. Her respected teacher in Tulane University helped her to realize her dream of leaning Chinese, and in the following years she studied and worked in China, where she got to know many hospitable and friendly Chinese people. For her the profound Chinese culture and diligent and kind Chinese people are most unforgettable memories for a lifetime. Back to UK, she joined the Chopsticks Club founded by Rupert Hoogewerf, the creator of China Rich List, and subsequently became its Director, fully devoting herself to the promotion of mutual understanding and exchanges between the two peoples. She taught mandarin to allow British children see the world with their eyes wide open and understand the unique and excellent Chinese culture. She also organized cross-cultural trainings for direct exchanges and mutual learning between the British and Chinese peoples. Colston said that enormous changes have taken place in China over the past more than 20 years. Bicycles are now rare on the streets of Beijing, and the Chinese cabbages stored in alleys for winter are replaced by a wide range of vegetables in supermarkets. China's future development will certainly influence the UK and the world. She recently read Ambassador Liu's article published in the Times and fully agrees with his views. The ties between the two countries are getting closer. While the relations between countries are important, the relations between people are more essential. The UK and China need to constantly enhance communication. She said that she would redouble her efforts to further promote the friendship between the two countries and two peoples.

(Stewart Johnson delivers a speech)

Stewart Johnson, student of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, who participated in the finals of the "Chinese Bridge" Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students in China this August and won top prize, said that he had spent one year studying at the Beijing Normal University and was honoured to be part of the "Chinese Bridge" Competition in China on behalf of the UK, and therefore personally witnessed the great changes the country's rapid development has brought to the Chinese society and public and understood that underpinning this development are hundreds of millions of ordinary Chinese people. The Chinese people he knew are kind, friendly and hard-working, and they have both the opportunity to enjoy world cuisine and the eyes to see the world. For these he likes them from the bottom of his heart and views China as his second hometown. He said that Ambassador Liu's encouragement to him at the Preliminary Contest in UK for the "Chinese Bridge" Competition remained fresh in his memory: language is the carrier of culture, and the British and Chinese languages and cultures are like two pairs of wings, helping him to fly higher and further. As a member of British young generation knowing Chinese, he would strive to carry forward the UK-China friendship and facilitate cooperation between the two countries.

(Ambassador Liu with Stewart Johnson)

At the reception, China was the hot topic for the guests and the experience of studying in the country brought back many fond memories. Professor Delia Davin, Acting Director of the National Institute of Chinese Studies and Honorary Professor of Chinese Studies at University of Leeds, who used to teach English at the Broadcasting Institute of China, proudly displayed to Ambassador Liu a precious medal. It was a medal of honour conferred personally by Premier Zhou Enlai to recognize her excellent work. Delia treasured it very much and said that this honour has always inspired her to make tireless efforts for the friendship between the UK and China. Director H-J Colston of the Chopsticks Club ran into Professor Don Starr, her mandarin teacher in the university. The professor was pleased to see the remarkable achievements of his student and announced the good news that the Chinese major will be resumed in Durham University. Adam Purvis, a Scottish "Young Icebreaker", who studied for one year at Zhengzhou University of Light Industry, said that, not very good at Chinese though, he has profound feelings towards China and made many Chinese friends and has close contact and cooperation with them. The event provided a platform for the students who have studied in China to strengthen exchanges, and all the participants propose to set up an Association for British Students in China.

(Ms. Delia Davin displays to Ambassador Liu the medal conferred by Premier Zhou)

At the roundtable held before the reception, 20 representatives of British students who studied in China shared their unforgettable experience of studying and living in China, introduced their efforts for UK-China friendship after their return to UK and made a lot of good suggestions on how to encourage more British students to study in China and to further strengthen the UK-China educational exchanges.

※ ※ ※

60 years ago, the People's Republic of China received 33 students from Eastern Europe for the first time. In 1959, China welcomed the first group of British students to study in China. By 2009, more than 230,000 international students from over 190 countries and regions have been studying in 610 Chinese colleges and universities, research institutes and other educational institutions. Over the past 60 years, a total of 1.69 million foreigners come to China for studies. In order to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the country's admission of international students, a series of commemorative events will be held in China from late September to early October, which are expected to be attended by the representatives of excellent students from all over the world that used to study in China and have made prominent contribution in their careers. Among these representatives there will be three from UK, namely H-J Colston, Director of Chopsticks Club, Dr. Frances Wood, Head of the Chinese Department at the British Library (who studied at Peking University) and Dr. Endymion Wilkinson, former EU Ambassador to China( who taught at Beijing Language and Culture University).

(Ambassador Liu talks with British visiting scholars to China)

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