St. Cronan's Boys' National School, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

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On Wednesday 6th May '09, St Cronan's welcomed visitors from
Guangming Primary School in Beijing

Mrs Wang Ping (Deputy Principal) and Mrs Tian Qi (English Teacher) along with two pupils both in 5th class; Wang Mingyin and Yang Jingxin.

Arriving at Dublin Airport

Arriving at St. Cronan's

Feeding the Swans at Bray Harbour

Visiting Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow

Dinner in the Jasmine House
with Robert Wang

Trip to Airfield Farm
with St. Cronan's 4th Class

Chinese Guests with Cllr. Ciaran O'Brien

Chinese Guests address the St. Cronan's Staff

Chinese Guests in 6th Class

Group Photo with St. Cronan's Staff

Cookery with the Crokidz After School Club

Meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Ireland

Talking to Minister of State Dick Roche, and Minister of Education Batt O'Keefe

Learning about Irish Dancing

Meeting Government Ministers
in Leinster House

Slán abhaile, a cháirde.........

It has been our privilege over the past ten days to have a little bit of China as part of our school community. The staff and pupils of
Guangming Primary School, Beijing, Mrs Wang Ping (Deputy Principal), Mrs Tian Qi (English teacher) and pupils Wang Mingyin and Yang Jingxin have represented their country, their city, Beijing and their school with us. They shared our classes and school activities both during and after school. They were very gracious and generous and they had little difficulty in speaking and writing English as bilingualism is a common feature of all Chinese schools now.

There are of course many differences between our respective systems from school structure to class size but the Guangming Primary school motto
‘I can do’ does echo our own motto ‘At St. Cronan’s everybody gets opportunities to succeed’. Children are the same everywhere and the cultural link created through this visit will long remain with our pupils who shared their time and activities with their Chinese peers.

During our meeting with his Excellency Ambassador Liu last week he emphasised that Ireland and China have been in a process of mutual exchange at Third level education for some time now. He regarded this visit as the beginning of formal linkage between First and Second level schools in our respective countries. Our guests also regarded it as a great honour to meet with the Cathaoirleach of Bray Town Council, Cllr. Ciarán O'Brien and with the Minister for European Affairs, Deputy Dick Roche TD and the Minister of Education, Deputy Batt O'Keefe, TD.

Our guests were very well briefed on our systems and curriculum thanks mainly to our school website. They admired the capacity of our teachers to be masters of all curriculum subjects as theirs is a subject centred, standards based structure, each teacher teaching a specific subject as in our Second level schools.

We are very grateful to many people who made this visit special; our entire school staff and pupils; our webmaster Karl Ó Broin who uploaded material on a daily basis to inform the parents of our guests of their various activities; our staff hosting committee who ensured that the programme experiences and itineraries were memorable; our host families who generously opened their doors to offer the best of Irish hospitality; the Bray Chinese community for making them feel at home in Bray; Cllrs. David Grant and Michael Lawlor for assisting with the tour of Leinster House; Professor Michael Lyons, Chemistry Dept. and Helen O’Sullivan Education Dept. of Trinity College; the Chinese Embassy staff in Ailesbury Rd. and the Irish Embassy staff in Beijing; the principals of Curtlestown National School; Ms Mary Conroy, of Presentation college; Mr. Gerry Duffy, of SEK Belvedere Hall and Mr. Colm Regan and the staff of 80:20 all of whom gave the time to introduce their schools and pupils to our guests.

Most of all we must thank our local Chinese interpreter Mr Robert Wang who was always available to share his time..... and his car!

Finally I must pay tribute to Shu rong, Ivan and Paul Walsh now living in Shanghai, who have spent months coordinating and liaising between the schools, the parents of the pupils, the Chinese Embassy in Dublin and the Irish Embassy in Beijing. They have truly been the St. Cronan’s overseas ambassadors. The bridge they started to build months ago has now been completed.

We wish our guests happy memories of Ireland, our people, our various schools including ourselves..... and our weather. They loved Bray. Ireland for them has been transformed from a dot on the western fringes of the European mainland to a place of happy children and friendly people. It is a place of ancient history and heritage. It has pride in its language and in its music and it has an excellent education system.

Perhaps we should stand back and see ourselves less critically at times to see what others see in us.

Vaughan Dodd

A gift from Guangming School hanging in Mr. Dodd's Office

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