Shanghai International Sister Cities Youth Camp kicks off online due to the pandemic
Published: Jul 20, 2021 01:16 AM
Students from Siyuan Junior High School perform Peking Opera at the camp’s opening ceremony in Shanghai on Monday. Photo: Yu Xi/GT

Students from Siyuan Junior High School perform Peking Opera at the camp’s opening ceremony in Shanghai on Monday. Photo: Yu Xi/GT

The Shanghai International Sister Cities Youth Camp 2021 officially kicked off on Monday, running until July 31. This is the first time it is held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the friendship between sister cities will not be blocked by the virus.

All the campers can register on the platform and watch the livestreaming programs where they can learn Chinese language and culture as well. Campers will also experience Chinese traditional handcrafts like making fans, drawing and sewing sachets. 

In previous years, foreign teachers and students would spend two weeks in Shanghai to experience Chinese culture and learn Chinese language.

Representatives from 12 consulates and foreign offices in Shanghai, including Finland, Egypt, Mexico, Russia, UK, South Korea and Japan, were also invited to the opening ceremony. Along with 100 Chinese teachers and students, over 180 camp students from 19 sister cities in 17 countries attended the event online.

"I saw an increase in students' motivation to study Chinese after they came back from the summer camp in Shanghai," Harri Rinta-aho, Deputy Mayor of Espoo, Finland, said via a video conference on Monday. 

This year, Shanghai's hospitality was extended to all online and he strongly recommended making the best of this chance to be active, connect and be courageous to use and learn new languages.

In Finland there's a saying, "All the years are full of learning," which means that you keep learning new things all your life through experience. Rinta-aho encouraged students to learn about the accomplishments, culture and language of one of the oldest civilizations in the world through this camp.

"When we connect and learn to understand each other beyond borders we come so much further than when we act alone," he said.

Another guest speaker from the UAE, Mohammed Al Hashmi, Chief Technology Officer of the Expo 2020 Dubai, echoed the opinion saying that the younger generations are the "faces of the future and the strength of society." 

It is youth camps like these that provide a platform for an international exchange of students, to make new friends from all over the world and to "deepen meaningful communication and friendship," he said through video at the ceremony held on Monday.

The camp has been held annually since 2009 in Shanghai hosting over 1,000 teachers and students from 38 sister cities and regions in 35 countries.

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