Sister city welcomes Darwin students in China  

CDU student Trisha Bun Teo and Essington School student Gabriel Hanes

The first group of students participating in Charles Darwin University’s new Chinese in-country program has received a warm welcome by their host, Hainan University in the southern Chinese city of Haikou

Some 13 Mandarin students, led by CDU’s Professor Chen Zhong Min, are the first CDU students to make an official visit to Hainan University.

Both universities signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year that will see them share resources across education and research. It was built upon a Sister Cities agreement between Darwin and Haikou.

The Chinese In-country program is held at Hainan University and allows students to complete a full unit of Mandarin Chinese study in four intensive weeks.

Similar programs are offered for Greek and Indonesian language students studying at CDU.

PhD Visual Art candidate Glenice Lee said she was exploring the identity of Australian-born Chinese people like herself.

 “I’m taking a bit of an experiment, testing whether learning Chinese will have some change on my own self-identity and I’m also interested in using the calligraphy in my artwork,” she said.

Double degree Law and Politics and International Relations student Neil Cruden took up Chinese as an elective and said he was enjoying the trip.

“Everyone was enthusiastic about meeting a foreigner,” he said.

The youngest traveller is 15-year-old Essington Middle School student Gabriel Hanes, who said a strong interest in “all things Asian” led him to the trip.

“When my other mates are watching cartoons or kicking the football, I am studying Chinese on Saturday mornings,” he said.

The Northern Territory Government injected $10,000 into the program, which is seen as an important element of the Darwin-Haikou sister city relationship.