International sister city students kick off Shanghai camp
The Shanghai International Sister Cities Youth Camp is back as 73 teenagers from Shanghai's 13 sister cities in 12 countries raised its curtain on Thursday evening.
Initiated in 2009 by the Shanghai Education Commission, the annual event has become an important window for young students from other countries to learn about China and Shanghai. It was stopped in 2020 and moved online in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has received 1,431 teachers and students from 41 cities in 37 countries and regions in the past 13 editions.
This year, students gathered in Shanghai again to kick off the event, jointly hosted by the commission and the Yangpu District Education Bureau. It will run through the end of the month.
The students, accompanied by their Chinese counterparts who are volunteers from local schools, will learn a lot about China, ranging from Chinese language, Chinese painting, intangible heritage, traditional Chinese clothes and Chinese palace lanterns, to paper cutting, seal cutting, ceramics, tea making and lion dance. They will also attend a youth forum, visit landmarks and universities in the city, as well as have a city orientering, and home-stay at local families.
Besides the activities, they can also log on to the camp's platform for information about the camp and take online classes by themselves to learn Chinese language, history and culture, as well as the landscape of Shanghai. The organizers have recorded more than 200 classes with more than 10,000 minutes of videos and over 20,000 photos on the platform.
Margo Thoné Hermans from Belgium attended the camp last year via the Internet and this year, she decided to make the trip to Shanghai to take part in the offline version.
Hermans said she learned Chinese, traditional dance and tea culture last year and found them interesting.
"I saw a video of the dragon dance and I thought it was really cool to see the teamwork. Everything was like so organized, so good together. And today actually I tried it. It's really hard, but it's really fun to learn and I'm very happy that I could experience this in real life," she noted.
Hermans said it was not her first trip to China as she had been to Hong Kong in 2017 when her father worked there, but it's her first time in Shanghai and she fell in love with the big city at first sight.
The Belgian team arrived one day earlier and they had a chance to walk around the city.
"I saw the Pearl Tower (Oriental Pearl TV Tower) at night, so beautiful. The skyline is amazing. It's so cool to see because I saw pictures. Indeed, seeing it in real life is so impressive," Hermans gushed. "There were a lot of people too, but I like the atmosphere at night. Everyone is like nice and I really liked it here."
She added that she was looking forward to the activities over the next two weeks.