Scholarship to China inspires
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.