Schoolkids get to know China better

AMELIA REYNOLDS
Last updated 12:28 18/07/2014
Rebecca Wu
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
EXCHANGE: Tutor Rebecca Wu helps Hope Gerrard, 9, with an art project at the Chinese Culture Camp at St Joseph’s School hall.

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A school holiday programme is hoping to introduce a future generation of leaders to the benefits of engaging with Chinese culture.

Chinese Culture Camp has been running over the past two days at St Joseph's School hall in Nelson.

About 20 children aged 8 to 15 have been eating dumplings, practising tai chi and calligraphy, painting pandas, cutting out Chinese characters and learning about Chinese history.

The programme has been organised by the New Zealand China Friendship society and the first camp was held in January.

The society's Nelson president, Christine Ward, said the two days were about cementing a healthy relationship between China and New Zealand.

"A lot of New Zealand's future is tied up with China and we need people who understand what China is about so that they can serve New Zealand later."

The two days also offer Nelson children a rare opportunity to engage with a different culture to their own, Ward said.

"Any exposure to another language and another culture is enriching."

Twelve-year-old twins Finn and Jade Alborn returned to Riwaka with their family three years ago after spending six years in Shanghai.

They attend Mandarin classes in Motueka once a week.

The siblings said they missed Chinese food, particularly the dumplings.

"But not the deep-fried ones," says Finn Alborn.

There are lots of inaccurate stereotypes about China amongst New Zealanders and more people should learn Chinese, they said.

Authentic Chinese food was completely different to the Chinese food in Nelson, said Jade Alborn.

"What you get here, like sweet and sour pork and lemon chicken, that's like Western-Chinese food. It's not real Chinese food."

Finn Alborn agrees.

"Lemon chicken is about as Chinese as fish and chips."

The holiday programme finishes tonight with a traditional Chinese dinner.

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- The Nelson Mail

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