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UNSW's Confucius Classroom Visits the First Lady in China

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The First Lady of the People‚Äôs Republic of China, Madam Peng Liyuan, cordially met with teachers and students of the Confucius Classroom at Ravenswood.

On April 19 2016, the First Lady of the People’s Republic of China, Mrs Peng Liyuan, cordially met with teachers and students of the Confucius Classroom at Ravenswood, Sydney, at the Daioyutai State Guesthouse. Australian Ambassador to China, Ms Jan Adams PSM; China’s Deputy Minister for Education, Dr HAO Ping; China’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr WANG Chao; Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at UNSW, Australia, Associate Professor Emma Xi; Ravenswood Vice-Principal, Mr David Garner; Chinese Teacher, Dr BAI Yan and numerous others were in attendance at the event.

During the gathering, Madam Peng Liyuan spoke of her enjoyment during her visit to the Confucius Classroom at Ravenswood where she met students and teachers, and viewed videos and photos from their study tours to China. Subsequently, Ravenswood’s Vice-Principal, Mr David Garner, expressed his gratitude and the value of these two opportunities to meet with the First Lady. To date, students, parents and teachers of the school still often recall Madam Peng Liyuan’s last visit. Mr Garner also said that the Ravenswood Confucius classroom will continue to support the teaching of Chinese language and culture and that this study tour was a great opportunity for the students to gain hands on practical experience with a new language and to acquire a more in-depth knowledge of China’s history and culture.

Chinese teacher representative, Dr BAI Yan, said in her speech how the 2014 visit to Ravenswood’s Confucius Classroom by Madam Peng Liyuan was a major encouragement to the students. Today the number of students learning Chinese at the Confucius Classroom at Ravenswood has increased from 50 to over 200. Chinese traditional knots and paper cuts made by Madam Peng Liyuan and students have been on display at the Confucius Classroom, with the books given as a gift by the First Lady already becoming regular reading material for improving their understanding of China.

Madam Peng Liyuan meets with students.
Madam Peng Liyuan meets with students.

Lastly, 3 students from Ravenswood’s Confucius Classroom spoke about their pleasure at meeting with Madam Peng Liyuan again, in 2014 she invited them to China to see the Giant Panda’s and they never expected them to be so cute! The students said how this trip allowed them to see the Chinese history and monuments that they have only seen on television, ride the high-speed rail, eat delicious Chinese food and make many new Chinese friends. They received great satisfaction from being able to use their Chinese language skills to successfully communicate with local people and will return home to continue studying Chinese so that they are fluent for their next visit. Students concluded the event with a live performance of Chinese song, “You and Me,” receiving unanimous praise from the audience.

After listening to the speeches, Madam Peng Liyuan said her previous visit left a strong impression. She hopes that this study tour has been a rewarding experience for the students, not only for the beautiful natural scenery and long history of culture that they have seen, but also for making new friends and deepening the students understanding of China. She finished by wish the students well, to seize their youth, read many books, travel many miles and continue to learn Chinese to promote the friendship between the two countries.

After the meeting concluded, Ravenswood Vice-Principal, David Garner, together with Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at UNSW, Australia, Emma Xi, presented Madam Peng Liyuan with a gift, including embroidery made by the students during the First Lady’s 2014 visit, a signed photo, and a kangaroo and koala doll. The First Lady then presented the students two traditional Chinese stringed instruments, known as “Guzheng” or Chinese zither, in order to establish a Confucius Classroom music ensemble. She also presented study materials for students wishing to achieve a higher level of learning.

The Confucius Classroom at Ravenswood functions under the Confucius Institute at UNSW; at its beginning on the 21st of May, 2014, it was also the first Confucius Classroom to be established in a private school in New South Wales. Later that year Madam Peng Liyuan visited for the first time.