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Archive for the ‘International Youth Work’ Category

China Follow Up Residential

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks with more to follow! The weekend before last I was part of the staff team who met up again with the young people who went on the China Exchange visit last October. We were running a follow up weekend with several experiences. We were reviewing their experiences, supporting them to make a storyboard in order to develop a DVD highlighting their journey, and planning for the return visit by the Chinese hopefully in July this year.

It was a really interesting weekend. First up we did an exercise where I read out statements and the young people had to place themselves on a line with totally agree at one end and totally disagree at the other end. The statements related to some of the issues and areas they discovered in China, for instance whether Europe should adopt a one child policy, that young people in the UK should adopt a Chinese approach to the elderly, that it was better to be poor in the UK than in China and so forth. The object was to be provocative and to challenge their learning and thoughts and this was certainly achieved….leading to thought provoking discussions about democracy and freedom of choice.

Saturday was spent doing storyboarding. We encouraged the group to draw pictures of the things that really stood out for them during the 10 days and to reflect on why this was so and what they had felt at the time. As you can see on the video, there was lots of discussion and they made a wonderful scroll of their visit. They used this as the basis of reviewing video clips and starting to develop ‘their’ story.

They’ve also been working on a presentation and celebration event to include parents. Although there was a lot of hard work put in on the video over the weekend there is still a lot to do. The group have developed their return visit plan for the Chinese and also discussed how much longer they remain engaged in this work. Many of them have exams coming up so will be limited but they are still all very enthusiastic and keen to host the return group. I’m also looking at how they might support us in some of the other international work we’re doing as I’m keen for them to be able to support give a young persons perspective on our future projects. So, although this part of the project is winding up there are various other avenues for them to keep involved with our work and hopefully share their experiences with others.

Developing our work with China

Well, it finally looks like the plan to initiate a youth exchange with China is likely to become a reality! As I mentioned here, after a number of youth worker exchanges we were hoping to set something up for young people. Shandong Youth Federation have replied to our emails confirming that they are interested in hosting up to 20 young people. Unfortunately the other local autorities have had to pull out so we’re going to look at taking a smaller group of 10-12 young people probably aged between 16-19yrs.

I’m really excited about this and hoping that we can use some of the things we are learning about social media and the internet to support this work. I’m really keen to see if we can do some projects like the Life in New China Project supported by What Kids Can Do and Adobe Youth VoicesOr blogging like the young people involved in Beijing Voices. The tricky part is, although communication systems are easier than before, trying to work out how we are going UK delegation meeting Chinese Uni Studentsto be able to work together and get something going is quite difficult due to our different cultures.

When I went to China at the end of 2006 we were still trying to understand what sort of youth work happened over there as we mainly saw universities, cultural sites and various enterprises. As there is such an ethos of education, education, education (There’s been a great BBC3 series running about Chinese School education). it was difficult to find out what youth work they did and what happened to those who weren’t academically inclined.  chinese delegation visit07 (9)

When the Chinese delegation came here last summer we made a point of showing them some of our facilities and work that we did. Hopefully these visits has helped with what we’re hoping to set up.

Now we need to find out which young people are interested, what sort of things they want to do and learn out there and liaise with our Chinese colleagues to try and make all this happen (and all by October!!!) Oh, and not forgetting all the risk assessments etc, etc. Well, I can’t say life is dull!!! 🙂 

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