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Strengthening Bonds: Marsden School Embraces Visit From Xiamen Shuangshi Middle School

From left to right: Marsden Principal Paula Wells, Mayor of Wellington Tory Whanau and Xiamen Shuangshi Middle School Principal Ouyang Ling (Photo: Supplied)

The Wellington-Xiamen sister city relationship has long been a beacon of cultural exchange and educational collaboration. Last week, this partnership took a significant step forward as Marsden welcomed 11 students and three teachers from Xiamen Shuangshi Middle School in China.

The visit marks the beginning of an ongoing relationship between Marsden and Xiamen Shuangshi Middle School. In a momentous occasion, Marsden’s Principal Paula Wells and Director of International Students Jo Burns joined Mayor Tory Whanau and members of Xiamen Shuangshi Middle School to sign a memorandum of understanding between the two schools.

The roots of this relationship trace back to the early 1980s when the Wellington City Council, inspired by then Prime Minister David Lange's vision, sought to establish friendly ties with a city in China. Xiamen emerged as a natural choice due to the striking parallels between the two cities. The signing of the Sister City Relationship Agreement on 23 June 1987 between Mr Zou Erjun, Mayor of Xiamen and then Mayor of Wellington, Jim Belich, laid the groundwork for a partnership based on mutual respect and cooperation.

Since then, the Wellington-Xiamen Association has been instrumental in nurturing this bond, facilitating cultural and educational exchanges, as well as fostering trade partnerships. Last September, a Wellington business delegation, led by Mayor Tory Whanau, embarked on a journey to further strengthen ties with Xiamen. Marsden, representing the pinnacle of education in Wellington, was honoured to be the sole school invited to showcase the excellence of education in our city.

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During their stay, guests from Xiamen Shuangshi Middle School were immersed in Marsden’s culture and educational practices. They had the opportunity to experience Te Reo Māori, share in morning tea and take a tour of the school, giving the students and their teachers an insight into Marsden’s academic programmes and facilities, while a Kiwiana lesson provided an introduction to New Zealand's culture and phrases.

Music, a universal language, served as a bridge between the two schools, with performances from both visitors and Marsden students. Through these shared experiences, the schools aim to deepen their understanding of each other's traditions and foster lasting friendships.

Marsden embraced the visit from Xiamen Shuangshi Middle School, and was reminded of the transformative power of international partnerships in shaping the future of education and cultural understanding.

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