Here in Clongowes a small group of us study Chinese as an extra subject in the evening time with Mr. Lichao Li of the Confucius Institute. It is very enjoyable because as well as learning the language we study the culture and traditions of China and last summer, a group of us got the opportunity to travel to Beijing, to experience the country ourselves.
A group of five students, Stephen McAleese, Gavin Larkin, Robbie Savage, Cathal Poon, Fred Sargaison (left to right above), guided by our chaperone, Mr Gary Corcoran, met in Terminal 2 of Dublin Airport, all geared up for our once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to China! We flew on a Boeing 747 and had a small stopover in Heathrow on our journey to Beijing. Our flight was ten hours long and then we got a bus from the airport to the Beijing Chinese Language and Culture College, which was to be our base – our home – for the two (very hot) weeks that we stayed in the Chinese capital.
The next few days were spent with Mandarin classes in the morning; while in the afternoon we had sports, Chinese art, calligraphy, paper cutting, Chinese dancing, martial arts and more. We had day trips to places such as the silk market, theatres, the opera house, the 798 Art Zone, shopping centres and the Olympic Park. We ate in restaurants around Beijing and we also visited the National Science Museum.
The last five days of the camp were spent traveling to sites such as the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the iconic Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. These were extraordinary sites to visit, and gave us a great insight into the history and culture of China. We had a closing ceremony with students from Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Russia, France, Britain, America and Canada – to name only a few!
Our return flight departed early for London and then Dublin and by the time we arrived home we had been traveling for 24 hours; but we were still keen to tell our parents and family about the great adventures and fun we had in Beijing, and the Chinese aspects of life, language and culture that we learnt about.
Gavin Larkin and Fred Sargaison (Rudiments 2015)