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Taiwanese Primary School Group Visits UK on an International Exchange Programme

From July 14 to 29, 2015, a group of teachers and students from Heh Sheng Elementary School in Pingtung City visited Kirkstall St Stephen’s Church of England Primary School in the city of Leeds in the north of England as part of an educational and cultural exchange. The group was led by Ms Chung Wen-Yu, the Heh Sheng Elementary School principal, and Ms Chen Wen-Mei, the Director of Academic Affairs.

Kirkstall St Stephen’s Church of England Primary School emphasises the value of extra-curricular activities and celebrating different cultures, and the link with Heh Sheng Elementary School was established in 2013 as a channel for international exchange. The pupils initially communicated by mail and by e-mail, sharing information about their respective cultures and communities. The visit by the Heh Sheng Elementary School teachers and pupils was designed to enhance and extend the exchange programme. The Taiwanese pupils had a wonderful opportunity to meet the pupils in the UK who they had been writing to in person and develop their friendships. They attended classes and observed primary school life there, and the teachers involved in the project held face-to-face meetings to discuss future developments.

As well as participating in classes, the schoolchildren from Taiwan enjoyed exploring the city of Leeds and some sight-seeing trips to several London landmarks, including the Museum of London, the British Museum, the Science Museum, the Houses of Parliament, and Hyde Park. They were also given a tour of Imperial College London and invited to a welcome at the office of the Education Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK.

The visit was a great success. The pupils all benefitted hugely from the opportunity to learn more about each other’s society, and languages, and their different individual backgrounds on a first-hand basis. The head teachers and teachers had an opportunity to compare the different learning systems of the two countries and to engage in productive discussions on how cooperation between the two schools can continue to evolve.