Jiading District, Shanghai has carried out friendly exchanges with nine countries worldwide since establishing sister city relationship with Yao City, Japan in 1986.
With the aim to further expand the exchanges between Jiading and its sister cities and to encourage young people to play the role of ambassador of friendship, People’s Government of Jiading District Shanghai held the 4th Jiading International Youth Friendship Camp from 29 July to 6 August 2018.
Two S3 pupils from Swire Chinese Language Centre Edinburgh schools – Euan Stokes from George Watson's College and Eleanor Baker from Boroughmuir High school – were successful in their applications to represent the UK on this year's camp.
Euan wrote the following of his experience:
Jiading Youth International Friendship Camp 2018
Having zipped away from my family holiday two days early I woke at 4.30am, after a day of unpacking, washing and repacking. This time, I was off to Shanghai for the Jiading Youth International Friendship Camp. At the airport I met Eleanor, my fellow delegate from Boroughmuir High School and my teacher, Ms Xu. After almost 24 hours of travelling we arrived at our hotel in Jiading.
My first impression of Shanghai was its sheer size. Our three hour drive to the hotel, took us from Pudong, on the east of Shanghai to Jiading in the north-west – the distance between Edinburgh and Inverness! We were surrounded by huge skyscrapers and apartment blocks all at least 10 storeys high. The buildings wound upwards in all shapes and sizes. To better navigate this gigantic metropolis, a network of highways rolled above the streets and smaller buildings, some of which reached nearly 50 metres high! I felt tiny, and in awe. Driving on the highways gave me a sensation almost like flying!
Arrival in Jiading
Jiading contrasted somewhat from the rest of Shanghai. To the Shanghainese, Jiading is the countryside, but it definitely can't be called that. It has the feel of a small town since most buildings are low down, not exceeding three floors but the apartment blocks still towered at least ten floors high, and the town stretched out as far as the eye could see! You could see some of the Shanghai skyline in the distance.
The Opening Ceremony
At the opening ceremony, each delegation delivered a presentation about their city. By the time we had to deliver our presentation we had met everyone, so it wasn’t as scary as it could have been. Watching everyone else's presentation was eye-opening. I realised that despite how diverse our cultures are, we all lead very similar lives. My favourite presentation was by Maoris from the Hauraki district in New Zealand. They taught us how the Maoris maintain their tribal system in a modern society, some of their traditions and how Maoris arrived in New Zealand.
The other campers came from far and wide, from all over Europe - Germany, Corsica, Serbia and Hungary, and further afield including New Zealand, Japan, and the U.S. During our free time we were still learning facts about the other countries. I now know that Wolfsburg (where the German delegates were from) is the home of Volkswagen, and that Ota in Japan is famous for silk weaving! Everyone was so friendly, that despite our cultural differences, we all left Shanghai with new friends.
Learning about China
Throughout the week we had the opportunity to take part in activities to learn about Chinese culture. Each delegation was partnered with a Chinese host, ours was a girl called Lancy. She came along to the Camp each day, and we spent one of our days sightseeing and eating with her family. This gave me a chance to practise my Chinese!
We also made Chinese dumplings, painted our own kites, made incense pillows, played team building games, and tried on traditional Chinese dress.
Sightseeing in Shanghai
During the week we had time to see some of the famous sights of Shanghai. We visited a cultural centre which contained interesting illusions, calligraphy, and other Chinese artwork. You could see the history of China, as well as how it is trying to bridge the gap between the eastern and western worlds. We went to Shanghai old town, which is very traditionally Chinese. It looks exactly as I had imagined China to be, with Asian style roofs and old red buildings. This was my favourite area of the city. There were interesting shops, the smell of street food and a calm river flowing through it. It is one of the most beautiful urban areas I've ever seen.
I was lucky enough to try some of the best food Shanghai has to offer. We often ate at the hotel, where they provided an East-meets-West style buffet. When we were out, however, we visited restaurants where we tried more exotic foods. The most interesting food we sampled was chickens feet, which was served by our host family. The Chinese believe it makes your skin healthier. My favourite new food was an egg and tomato dish unique to Shanghai, my least favourite food could only be described as a slimy rice ball in a sweet juice!
The closing ceremony began with a very touching video of photos from our trip, few of us could believe it was already coming to an end. Each group of delegates then had the opportunity to involve the whole camp in a tradition from their home country. The New Zealand group taught the boys the Haka, and we invited people to join us in some Scottish country dancing. It was a proud moment, watching people from all over the world enjoying our Scottish traditions.
China is a country of such depth, with amazing culture, food, and people - I have undoubtedly only just scratched the surface. I am lucky and very grateful to have had such an amazing opportunity. I truly feel my experiences in Shanghai have changed me, and I will definitely visit China again.
Euan Stokes (S3)