Schol­ar­ship to China in­spires

Franklin County News - - OUT & ABOUT -

Three Franklin teenagers have re­turned from an ‘‘op­por­tu­nity of a life­time’’ in China.

Af­ter join­ing the Te Kauwhata and Onewhero Youth Ac­tion Group to de­velop their lead­er­ship skills, Ma­rina Wi­hongi from Mere­mere and Onewhero’s Caleb Monk and Tuene Hen­der­son were en­cour­aged by the Waikato District Coun­cil’s Shan­non Kelly to ap­ply for a schol­ar­ship from The New Zealand China Friend­ship So­ci­ety.

The schol­ar­ships, worth $2000 each, al­lowed the trio to ex­pe­ri­ence and learn about an­other cul­ture first-hand as they trav­elled to China for two weeks to re­trace the foot­steps of New Zealand au­thor and poet, Rewi Al­ley.

While learn­ing about Rewi’s life-long con­tri­bu­tion to the Chi­nese revo­lu­tion, his work in or­gan­is­ing thou­sands of in­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tives dur­ing the war against Japan, as well as his ef­forts in pi­o­neer­ing tech­ni­cal train­ing schools in China, the teenagers also took in some of the fa­mous at­trac­tions in China.

The Great Wall, Bei­jing’s For­bid­den City, the Ter­ra­cotta War­riors in Xi’an, Shang­hai’s Pear Tower and learn­ing about the lives of youth in China were high­lights for the trio.

They also spent time at the Rewi Al­ley Re­search Cen­tre and mu­seum at Lanzhou City Uni­ver­sity to learn about Al­ley’s im­pact on lo­cal peo­ple, and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween New Zealand and China.

Tuene said the group had been of­fered schol­ar­ships to at­tend Lanzhou Uni­ver­sity and this was some­thing she was con­sid­er­ing.

‘‘I was so in­cred­i­bly touched by the warmth, friend­li­ness and the open­ness of the Chi­nese peo­ple. Rewi Al­ley’s phil­an­thropic work has in­spired me to want to do the same thing. Help a coun­try in need or travel to an­other coun­try and ex­pe­ri­ence the cul­ture fully.’’

How­ever, she said she felt grate­ful to come from a small and close-knit com­mu­nity af­ter see­ing Chi­nese cities teem­ing with mil­lions of peo­ple.

Caleb de­scribed re­ceiv­ing the schol­ar­ship for the trip as ‘‘sur­real’’ and said it was an op­por­tu­nity of a life­time.

Pic­tured on The Great Wall, Ma­rina Wi­hongi, Caleb Monk and Tuene Hen­der­son on their trip to China.

Joan Smith­man, 80 and Ethel Holton, 99, cut the York­shire Day cake.

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