Sophie Hampson, a Year 12 student at Nayland College, will be traveling to Nelson’s sister-city Yangjiang, China in April 2020 as part of an ongoing Arts and Cultural Youth Exchange Programme.
Yangjiang, in the People’s Republic of China, is Nelson’s fourth and newest sister-city, with the link between the two cities being formed in July 2014. The Arts and Cultural Youth Exchange programme was initiated by the New Zealand China Friendship Society (NZCFS), a nationwide charitable organisation formed over 60 years ago.
The Nelson branch of NZCFS, although small, is one of the most active branches in the country with members who are highly committed to improving community awareness of and tolerance for people of Chinese ethnicity and their culture. In 2018, the group were inspired to create the Arts and Cultural Youth Exchange programme between Nelson and Yangjiang to show the value of arts and cultural sharing across languages, stories, school life, rural life, art, film and musical performances.
Guangdong Liangyang Senior High School, a school of 3600 students, was chosen as a suitable exchange partner and the first trip in 2018 saw six Year 12 and Year 13 students from colleges around Nelson & Richmond travel to the high school in Yangjiang. Following the success of that first visit, students from Guangdong Liangyang Senior High School visited Nelson in March of this year and spent time at Nayland College meeting Principal Daniel Wilson, touring the school and spending time in a Mandarin class.
Sophie Hampson is the first Nayland student to join the exchange programme and Sophie will be one of eight to form the second wave of Nelson and Richmond students who will visit Guangdong Liangyang Senior High School in April next year.
“When I heard about the exchange through the Nelson Youth Council Facebook page, I thought it would be such a cool opportunity to visit a country I’d never been to before,” she said. “The fact that China is so drastically different to NZ really appealed to me and I thought it would be a great way to experience and learn more about their culture.”
During the visit, students will be expected to contribute to a performance and also to each bring a piece of artwork from their school to present to Guangdong Liangyang Senior High School.
Sophie has been heavily involved in the arts during her time at Nayland College having been cast in various roles in every musical production since Year 9 as well as being a committed member to both Girls Choir and Mixed Choir. In considering what she’s looking forward to, Sophie replied, “I think seeing the Arts and the way of performing in China will be really cool and allow me to learn more about different types of Performing Arts while hopefully being able to improve my own performing skills.”
The Nelson students will join local Yangjiang students, staying in the school’s dormitory during the week and being accommodated in the city during the weekend for sightseeing. Sophie is really looking forward to being “immersed in the way of life over there” and is expecting to have to adjust her lifestyle completely to fit in with the boarding school arrangement. “I’m also looking forward to meeting new people interested in the Arts in Nelson who have similar interests to me!”
By Sarah Luton