Four teachers from China were in Derry last week to formalise links with St Columb’s College.
The academics from Hangzhou Foreign Language School spent a week at the Buncrana Road school where, among other things, they discussed future links between both institutions.
The Chinese delegation was hosted by Ms. Marion Lubbeke, languages co-ordinator at St Columb’s.
The four visiting teachers were Mr. Xia Guming (deputy principal), Mr. Chen Liang (administrator/PE teacher), Ms. Wang Min (English teacher) and Ms. Xu Haiping (Chinese teacher).
Students at St Columb’s have, for the past three years, had the opportunity to take lessons with a series of Chinese language assistants.
In addition, seven Derry students travelled to partner schools, Hangzhou Foreign Language School (Zhejiang Province) and No 3 Middle School in Yuxi (Yunnan Province), last Easter.
Another trip to China is planned for October of this year.
Just last month, four students from St Columb’s travelled to Belfast to attend the official opening of the Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus.
Corey and Ethan McKeegan, Harry McGee and Ryan Kelly were accompanied on the trip by Marion Lubbeke, Noel Finn and Mrs Wang Pingping, the school’s current Chinese assistant.
The official opening was particularly memorable as State Councillor Madame Liu Yandong - the most senior female politician in China’s ruling Communist Party - attended the event.
St. Columb’s College introduced Mandarin Chinese in 2008 when a group of pupils stayed after school twice a week, receiving language lessons from a native speaker. Since then, specialist Chinese Language Assistants have been taking small groups of pupils out of their normal class for one lesson per week and teaching them aspects of Chinese culture and language.