MACQUARIE College students will spend a week of their school holidays immersed in a country many of their peers have only read about, by visiting China's version of Silicon Valley, Guangdong.
The college is the only independent school in the state to send a cohort to Guangdong International Youth Exchange Week, which is supported by the NSW Department of Industry, Study NSW and the Association of Independent Schools. Year 10 student Jackson Durie, year nine students Samuel Anderson, Maria Pulikkottil, Mia Trigg and Aliyah O'Hern and year eight student Anna Geelan were chosen after submitting a written application and completing an interview. They will fly out of Sydney on July 24 and stay with local families.
"I wanted to do something where I could meet new people and be part of a bigger cultural exchange," said Mia, 14. "I thought it was something I'd really enjoy and a new experience trying something that would be an extension of our usual learning experience." Jackson, 15, said he wanted to apply "because the city and society is so different to ours". He said the questions in his interview were more difficult than what he faced in a recent job interview. "I was really happy because all the work I put in to apply paid off." Aliyah, 15, said "we're not just learning about China but also other countries - and with the home stay that's not something you would normally get to see if you just travelled there". Anna, 14, has been to China before but said she couldn't pass up applying for the "once in a lifetime experience". "We'll be seeing not only Chinese culture but other people around my age group from other countries and get to experience what they do too." Maria, 14, said the itinerary included "lots of interesting things that I have never done before".
The trip will be divided into days dedicated to innovation and development including a red boat night cruise along the Pearl River; heritage and history including a master class; society and culture including making local delicacies; environment and sustainability including a night in Zhuhai Chimelong Ocean Park; and a closing ceremony and gala night.
Mia said she wanted to pursue a career in medicine and was intrigued by Guangdong being known as the "tech hub of China". "Technology is going to boost what we know and in the future there's going to be more robots that can help diagnose someone's condition. It's going to assist in careers anyone is going to." Anna, who is considering a career in medical research and Aliyah, who uses software in design and technology, agreed. Samuel said he was looking forward to staying in a hotel that featured an aquarium, Jackson is interested in the master class about China, Aliyah wants to learn recipes for local delicacies and Maria wants to see what others perform on the last night.