Cultural sharing was the theme for activities involving 135 Bendigo primary school students and their 51 Chinese visitors at the BSSC Language Centre on Thursday 5 November.

Fifty-one primary school students and eight teachers from Suzhou Industrial Park schools in China are currently visiting Bendigo for an eight week cultural immersion program. BSSC’s Confucius Classroom hosted the excited visitors for an exchange of cultures on Thursday.

BSSC’s Language Centre was a hive of activity as Chinese language students from Bendigo Senior, Crusoe and Bendigo South East colleges led our Suzhou visitors in games and activities, including bush dancing and Aboriginal dot painting.

The Suzhou students mentored their Australian counterparts in Chinese cultural activities such as making dumplings, using chopsticks, and learning more about the mandarin language.

Suzhou is a city of over 6 million people and most schools have more than 2000 pupils, so living in Bendigo and attending the relatively small Bendigo primary schools is a stunning contrast and cultural challenge for our visiting Chinese students.

While intensive English classes are an important part of their program, the experience of living in a Bendigo family’s home and attending school with their “host brothers or sisters” is crucial to the acquisition of English and understanding of Australian culture for our Suzhou visitors.