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Abbeygate Sixth Form College in Bury St Edmunds hosts students from Beijing, China, as part of cultural exchange





A group of around 30 students from Beijing visited Abbeygate Sixth Form College in Bury St Edmunds and took part in a cultural exchange.

They toured the educational establishment in Western Way before taking part in a chemistry lesson. Learners from Abbeygate and China then travelled to Cambridge for a look around the city before wrapping up the day with some traditional fish and chips.

The Chinese party were being looked after by an organisation called World City Links and this was the first time that a group from this organisation had travelled to the UK since Covid created a global lockdown in 2020.

Abbeygate Sixth Form College welcomes students and staff from Beijing. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group
Abbeygate Sixth Form College welcomes students and staff from Beijing. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group
Julian Vennis from World City Links played a key role in creating the visit between Abbeygate and his organisation. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group
Julian Vennis from World City Links played a key role in creating the visit between Abbeygate and his organisation. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group

On this visit Julian Vennis, the director of World City Links, said: “We have had thousands of teachers and students from China coming to the UK over a period of many years. I think it’s important they meet English students and vice versa. Cultural exchange is vital.

“This was our first visit from China since Covid and it has been absolutely fantastic. The long-term aim is to get students from Abbeygate going to Beijing.”

Ching Ziqi, 15, from Beijing, was one of the guests at Abbeygate. Ching said: “I think the class was very good. I want to study abroad in the future. This visit has been interesting. England is very beautiful and historic.”

An Abbeygate student gets to work with two students from Beijing in a chemistry lesson. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group
An Abbeygate student gets to work with two students from Beijing in a chemistry lesson. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group
Ching Ziqi who hopes to study abroad in the future. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group
Ching Ziqi who hopes to study abroad in the future. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group
Nadine Payne from Abbeygate Sixth Form College helped organise the cultural visit. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group
Nadine Payne from Abbeygate Sixth Form College helped organise the cultural visit. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group

Nadine Payne, group director for careers, progression and development for Eastern Education Group, said: “This connection came about via our links to the Turing Scheme.

“This scheme has enabled hundreds of our students to travel to places like Brazil, India, Korea and Thailand. We were due to go to China but then Covid stopped us from doing so – therefore it’s great we were able to host a visit of this size and scale.

“Our guests were able to get to see how the British school system works and work alongside some of our students.

“Our ethos is all about preparing our students and helping them become global citizens.

“If they take part in activities in their local and global communities, they have different experiences and make good connections that can help them in the future.”

Samrina Bahadar, 17, from Newmarket, took part in the visit. The Abbeygate A-level student said: “It’s gone well. I think it opens your eyes to different opportunities and makes you more interested in other cultures.”

Samrina Bahadar from Abbeygate Sixth Form College (centre) gets to know and help out with two students from Beijing during a chemistry lesson. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group
Samrina Bahadar from Abbeygate Sixth Form College (centre) gets to know and help out with two students from Beijing during a chemistry lesson. Picture: Supplied by Eastern Education Group

Emma Tunstill, head of STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) at Abbeygate Sixth Form College, said: “Our students worked well with the students from China.

“Visits like this are fantastic. They open up student’s eyes in terms of what the world has to offer.

“The more we understand other cultures – the more we are able to understand each other – therefore this can ultimately help international relations.”