Four BSSC Year 12 students are the worthy recipients of a China Scholarship Council opportunity to study in China during 2020. Alyssa Lai, Alicia Bertani, Paw Bleh Htoo and Jack Sides will be flying into Shanghai with a year’s worth of tuition, accommodation, medical insurance and a living allowance all supplied.

Each of the students have been studying Mandarin for at least four years and have also worked outside school hours with International and Confucius Classroom Coordinator, Juncai Lin, to keep their momentum with the language.

“The application process was online but quite involved,” Alyssa explained. “We had to have health checks, provide multiple certificates, an explanation of why we wanted to study in China and what we hoped to take from the experience.”

Alyssa hopes to be able to converse more easily with her grandfather who speaks only Chinese.

“I also think the experience of being independent, managing my money, and everything that goes with it will be very valuable,” she said.

Paw Bleh had promised to take her mum to the United States next year and has had to break the news that it will now be the following year.

She aspires to work in the airline industry and has discovered that it is an advantage if applicants are able to speak Mandarin.

“It’s (Mandarin) being spoken more widely anyway,” she says. “I think it’s a really valuable skill to have.

“I think everyone studying the VET Certificate II in Applied Language should apply for this scholarship. Even if you don’t get it, the process of applying is actually very valuable in itself.”

Alicia hopes to work in an embassy or a diplomatic role and can see how fluency in Mandarin would be an asset.

“I went to China in Year 9 and that really sparked my interest,” she said. “It made me realise how beautiful all differences between our cultures are.”

Jack, like Alicia, went to China in Year 9 and found it a great experience.

“When I saw this opportunity to go back I wanted to grab it,” Jack said. “I see it as a valuable way of making connections with international students and I can imagine that in the future that could be really valuable.”

Jack applied for the scholarship but held out little hope that it would be awarded to him.

“I still have to really talk all my plans through with my parents,” he laughed.

All the students have the option to apply to remain longer in China if they decide. Past student, Caroline Pollock who also travelled to China on this scholarship is now teaching English in Shanghai and feeling very settled there.