The 2016 Aboriginal Student China Study Tour organized by the University of Saskatchewan Confucius Institute (CI), International Student and Study Abroad Center (ISSAC), and the Aboriginal Student Center (ASC) started on June 4, 2016 and was successfully completed on June 19, 2016.
This tour was initiated by the U of S CI in line with national, provincial and University of Saskatchewan’s Aboriginal initiatives, and was immediately recognized and supported by ISSAC and ASC. Twenty Aboriginal students were nominated and selected among 38 applicants from six colleges (College of Arts and Science, College of Education, Edwards School of Business, College of Engineering, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, College of Nursing) and two staff members (Candace Wasacase-Lafferty, Director of Aboriginal Initiatives; Graham Burningham, Undergraduate Office Staff from College of Arts and Science) volunteered to be on the tour for student support.
Before the tour, the U of S CI provided the students with three information sessions, 20 hours of Mandarin lessons and pre-departure training, which enabled the students to be familiar with some basic Chinese daily conversation and some knowledge of modern and historical China. During the tour, the students spent 2 weeks in China and visited two cities: Beijing and Xi’an.
In China, the students visited the CI Headquarters, Beijing Institute of Technology, Minzu University of China, Beijing Language and Culture University, Xi’an Jiaotong University, and Northwestern Polytechnical University. They met many international students from all around the world and shared each other’s language learning and study abroad experience. The students also visited various famous historical places in China such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tian An Men Square, the Summer Palace, Beijing Zoo, the Olympic Park, Xi’an Old City Wall, Big Goose Pagoda, Tang Dynasty Garden, Terra-Cotta Warriors, Li Mountain, Muslim Street — just to name a few. The group also enjoyed watching performances at the Qin Opera and a splendid outdoor theatrical show “Song of Everlasting Sorrow”.
Many students described this trip as one of the most memorable trip in their life. They said that they fell in love with China, Chinese language and Chinese culture and wish to apply for the Confucius Institute scholarship and go back to China in the near future. In the students’ reflection papers, they compared the similarities and differences between Canadian culture and Chinese culture, and between Aboriginal culture and Chinese ethnic cultures. Many felt that this tour has broadened their horizons and helped them develop a global mindset through experiencing a different culture and different language. Students also commented that they built friendships in China not only among the group members, but also with some local Chinese people and international students from other countries. All the students said this tour has had a great impact on their life and personal growth, their intercultural development and improved educational and career opportunities.
With the collaboration from the U of S CI, ISSAC, ASC, Beijing Institute of Technology, CI headquarters, and many other institutions, the U of S CI 2016 Aboriginal Student China Study Tour was a great success.