Courtesy of Tama Leaver
Wow! At last our Chinese partners, the Shandong Youth Federation, have confirmed that they will be coming to the UK on the return leg of the Youth Exchange we’ve organised! Some of you may recall that last year was the first opportunity we had to take a group of young people to China. They blogged about their experiences as well as creating a short film that they showed at the beginning of this year to a wide audience. We have always been aiming to host an incoming group and this will be the first time that our partners are sending young people instead of a group of youth work staff. As ever communications have been difficult (something we are hoping to clarify when the group is here) and it has taken some time to get confirmation of their visit.
Two of the young people from last autumns group are organising the programme for the Chinese group, including homestays, and we are hoping to blog on the West Sussex Youth Service Chinese Exchange Blog whilst they are here. So if you’re keen to keep an eye on our exploits then please log in from 3rd August onwards.
Since I last posted about China here all had been very quiet so I was beginning to worry about how much off the cuff we were going to end up having to work. We have almost got the group of young people together, all aged between 16-19yrs with an interest in youth participation, and truely representative of the county which is great.
At the end of last week I finally heard from the Shandong Youth Federation and namely the Youngsters Centre of Shandong Province. They have sent through an outline programme so now it is a case of trying not to get too bogged down in Risk Assessments but still ensuring that we have everything covered. (As well as trying to work out how we can / will use social media to support this!)
One of the key difficulties is in trying to understand what is being said in the communications. For instance at the moment the Chinese are keen for us to come earlier in October than we have suggested as it the “Picking Festival of fruits and vegetables” in the place they are suggesting we can stay. The description of the location sounds like a cross between an outdoor centre and an agricultural college….at least that’s how I’ve interpreted it so far. Then there are a lot of cultural visits suggested however I know that when we visited one of the most interesting parts was the discussions and interactions with people, especially young people at the universities and the technical college we went to. So – I need to work out how to politely suggest a bit of an alteration to the programme without being rude and also find out more about the Picking Festival!
Still – how exciting that it is all looking like it might happen….two years in the making but I think we will be able to do some really great youth work with the preparation for the visit, the visit itself and then hopefully hosting a return group next year!
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 Voices. Or 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 to 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.
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!!! :)