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Teachers head to China on international exchange

Thursday 24 February 2005

Christchurch teachers head to China on international exchange

Two Christchurch teachers are about to start work in Lanzhou, northwest China in a teaching exchange between Christchurch and China’s Gansu province.

Jane Ayres, a teacher at the Unlimited secondary school has already left for Lanzhou’s Foreign Language High School, while Paul Burgin, an English as a Foreign Language teacher and teacher trainer heads off for the three-month teaching assignment on Tuesday 1 March.

Christchurch has a sister relationship with Gansu Province because of the eight years that Cantabrian Rewi Alley worked there. Gansu’s capital city, Lanzhou is on the Yellow River, far from more westernised cities on China’s coastline and because of its remoteness offers a rare opportunity to experience a taste of old China.

Christchurch City Council International Relations coordinator Dave Adamson said that several candidates had applied for the two teaching positions. “The teacher programme is one of a number of activities, which have been supported and promoted by the local Christchurch-Gansu Friendly Relations Committee during the 21 year relationship with Gansu Province,” he said

This is the second time Ms Ayres has taught in China, having recently worked at a Chinese Middle School Summer English Camp, where she wrote and produced plays for students to perform in English.

Mr Burgin will take up his position in China with a background in teaching English as a Foreign Language in Japan, Spain, Hong Kong and New Zealand. For the last ten months he has also been a teacher trainer in New Zealand and South Korea. He said his motivation in applying for the exchange was to “experience the real China, learn about the Chinese culture and study the language”.

Christchurch teachers have been travelling annually to Lanzhou for the last three years to teach conversational English and English to teachers in Lanzhou’s Foreign Language High School. The Christchurch-Gansu Friendly Relations Committee has funded airfares, while accommodation and a small salary to cover living costs have been provided by the High School.


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