CHENGDU, China, July 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — When the Mandarin Excellence Program’s (MEP) two-week virtual study trip to China drew the curtain on July 15thmore than 1,500 high school students from 64 schools across England had completed Chinese language and Chinese culture online summer camp under four themes of panda zoo, sports and modern life, Chinese campus, history and cultural heritage.

Supported by Chinese peers, UK students immersed themselves in Chinese through live lessons, video tours, folklore experiences, concerts, family visits and other interactive activities designed by 16 host institutions in 11 cities from the Chinese mainland. As a host institute at Chengducapital of southwest China Sichuan Provinceteachers from the Department of International Chinese Education at Southwest Jiaotong University designed the panda-themed portion of the intensive study’s submerged activities and led them on a journey with giant pandas.

The camp started with a virtual visit to a panda zoo in Chengdu, the hometown of pandas. British students asked panda experts various questions on this tour, made paper panda dolls, and created stories from what they did after the tour.

During this two-week online summer camp, UK students also visited Tianfu Greenway, the city’s longest greenway, Sanxingdui Museum which focuses on the ancient Shu dynasty dating back 3,000 years, and Daoming Bamboo Art Village, a bamboo-woven intangible cultural heritage site. “Pretty”, “cool” and “colorful” were the first three words they had in mind about Chengduof course, after the word “xiongmao” (panda).

With the city’s landscapes and heritage in mind, British and Chinese students designed electronic greenway posters, painted Sanxingdui Museum masks together. More admirably, students learned to weave bamboo handicrafts after skillful inheritors of Sichuan intangible cultural heritage. Also in the live room, several student representatives from schools in Chengdu shared their school life with British peers and guided a visit to the family of a Chinese student.

“The MEP’s virtual trip to China was a unique opportunity that allowed me and my classmates to communicate with other students our age while learning Mandarin! favorite was when we did stop motion stories about pandas we had made out of paper!Even though it was very different from going to China in real life, it was still incredibly enjoyable “, said Francesca Waltona ninth-year British student.

Underlining the importance of the program for the UK, the director of the British Council ChinaMatt Burney said: “I am delighted to see that through our Mandarin Excellence Program we are connecting the younger generation of people in the UK and China through language learning. Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken in the world. I look forward to seeing more British students learn Mandarin language skills and work with their Chinese peers to build trust and understanding between our two countries.”

Funded by the Ministry of Education (England) and delivered by University College London (UCL) Institute of Education in partnership with the British Council, MEP is a unique intensive language program which started in 2016. There are now around 8,000 students enrolled in the program across 75 schools of England. This virtual visit to China, as an important part of the MEP program, provides students with a real focus on learning Mandarin Chinese and aims to foster cultural understanding and mutual appreciation.

SOURCE Southwest Jiaotong University