Victorian Young Leaders to China Program

Yarrawonga College P-12 applies each year to send a team of six students to one of the campuses for a nine week residential leadership experience.  At present we have students residing in China as part of the Victorian Young Leaders to China Program.

The Victorian Young Leaders to China Program gives students, teachers and school leaders the opportunity to be part of a life-changing international education experience.  As part of Victoria as a Learning Community and the vision to internationalise our education system

At the core, the Victorian Young Leaders to China Program is about students’ developing capabilities for modern ways of living, thinking and working. This includes global knowledge, intercultural understanding and developing thinking and relationship skills for engaging in a global context such as collaboration, communication and linguistic ability. Students will participate in a rich learning program that will help them develop and demonstrate leadership skills, and to empower them to make an active contribution to their schools and communities as young leaders.

Our students are having a great time and we have just received a message from them.

Ni Hao (Hello) from China,

With our first week behind us, the students are settling into the routines and high expectations of the program very well. It would be fair to say that their transition to adjusting to a new country, climate, environment and routine has at times been a bit hectic, but they have time and time again shown great resolve and leadership when and where it was required. It is what we expect of them and continue to remind them of as well. I anticipate further positive development from them as the weeks unfold.

This morning the students successfully ran games and activities for the children from the nearby Dapuwei local village. This was a form of service to the community, that they had planned and prepared for over the preceding days.  The importance of community service early in the program has numerous benefits.  It gives our students the opportunity to see first-hand how the Chinese people live and have personal interactions. It also helps them to understand how fortunate we are in Australia and allows them the opportunity to think of others rather than themselves.  All good foundations for the weeks ahead.  There has been a progressive shift in confidence and attitude amongst this particular group which augurs well for a very good 6 week experience.

Some further highlights from this past week include; the daily learning of Mandarin with classes taking place first thing in the mornings; the walk up to Mt. Luofushan which included a chairlift ride followed by more climbing to end up at a wonderful view over the Loufushan (Lion Mountain) Valley. We have all, as a whole group been out for a traditional Chinese dinner at a local restaurant, followed by a walk through the nearby park afterwards only to be entertained by some locals dancing and exercising to some ‘pop style’ music, whereby spontaneously we were invited to join in (yes, all of us!) with their dance routines, only to then become the tourist attractions ourselves!! Energetic, engaging, highly memorable and a lot of fun was had by all. What an amazing way to connect culturally, through locals playing music and dance.  We have done many introduction classes whilst staying on-site at Utahloy International School, including traditional paper cutting, introduction to bike riding, goal setting and cultural workshops. We also visited a T-shirt manufacturing factory in Dongguan to learn about the business and growth of such an industry, all leaving with the gift of a specifically designed polyester T-shirt. We’ve even celebrated a birthday and the whole school sung Happy Birthday to Kelly in Mandarin. How memorable!

Alas, by now you should have a link to their Sway, where they should be posting a blog every second day. Along with our VYLC Facebook page and the occasional email from our staff and student emails you should be well and truly able to follow our journey.  I will also write to you all once a week.

We also said goodbye to Mr. Reeves yesterday who has been invaluable to us this last week, helping the students to settle in and taking some of the pressure off the rest of the staff whilst we set up systems, rosters and get laptops up and running. Mr. Reeves will come back in our last week to help the transition of students back to Australia.

As always, if you reply to me via this email, I will be sure to follow up any concerns or questions that you may have.

All in all, a very productive week filled with much new culture and learning.