Students head to China after competition win
Ten lucky Staffordshire students have begun a trip of a lifetime to China.
They will be visiting landmarks including the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, after winning a competition run by the new Chinese-run college New Beacon Group.
The students will finish their nine-day trip with a visit to Chengdu’s Giant Panda Research Base, where they will get the opportunity to see some of the thirty-six new-born baby pandas.
Niall Vockins of Weston Road Academy, one of the competition winners, said: "Words do not explain how excited I am about the trip.
"I have always been interested in how countries are different to England and I have always wanted visit East Asia. The trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am forever grateful for being able to go."
As part of the educational exchange, the students will experience life in two Chinese schools, one in Beijing and the other in Chengdu, and they will also visit the global headquarters of technology giant Lenovo.
Huda Daghem, 15, from Blessed William Howard Catholic High School, said: "I'm really excited about going to the international schools. I think it'll be really interesting to meet and interact with the students."
The competition, launched in May, asked Staffordshire students to design their vision of a 'school of the future'; inspired by New Beacon Group's vision for the former Staffordshire University Beaconside campus.
The judging panel, which included Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council and Patrick Farrington, leader of Stafford Borough Council, selected 10 lucky winners based on their vision and presentation.
Since the winners were announced in July, the 10 students have attended a short course in Mandarin at the New Beacon Group headquarters in Stafford. This culminated in a celebration dinner at Essence of the Orient in Stafford attended by Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy.
Rebecca Bostock, head of Business development for New Beacon Group, said: "This trip is an amazing opportunity for the students. The itinerary is hectic as we want to ensure we show the students as much of China as we can. The students will be writing news articles whilst in China focusing on education, culture and pandas."
Dr Kai Liu, chief executive of New Beacon Group, added: "New Beacon Group is absolutely delighted to sponsor 10 students and two teachers from Staffordshire to embark on this great trip to China."
"'We all believe this trip will serve as a catalyst to connect schools of Staffordshire to schools in China and will promote cultural exchanges and friendships among young people in the two countries. I can’t wait to hear students’ stories in China and all our colleagues at New Beacon Group wish them a safe, fun and rewarding journey in Beijing and Chengdu."