Shanghai visitors part of exchange programme

A group of Chinese tertiary students on scholarships from Shanghai is welcomed to Dunedin by members of the Dunedin City Council, local iwi and education providers on Thursday. Photo by Gregor Richardson. A member of the Shanghai Municipal Government's foreign affairs office is to spend two months working at the Dunedin City Council.

Her arrival in the city next week will be hot on the heels of a group of 10 tertiary students and a teacher from Shanghai, who are spending two weeks in Dunedin on scholarships initiated by Mayor Dave Cull during a Dunedin delegation's visit to Shanghai last year.

Another group, of secondary school pupils, will visit the city in March on the same scholarship programme.

The council is to cover $10,000 towards the cost of the scholarships and pay $7335 for the accommodation and living costs of the staff member while in Dunedin.

Yuan Zhifeng, the co-ordinator of the Shanghai Municipal Government's Asia and Oceanian division and the council's day-to-day contact in Shanghai's foreign affairs office, would be based in the council's economic development unit for two months, council business development adviser Margo Reid said.

She would also spend time with other council staff in the Civic Centre and at the city's libraries and museums, visit schools, tertiary institutions and Tourism Dunedin and spend time with local businesses, particularly those with links to China.

A council staff member would visit Shanghai next year.

Under the exchange programme, the city sending the staff member paid the air fares, and the host city met the accommodation and living costs.

The 10 students, from three Shanghai tertiary institutions, and teacher arrived in Dunedin on Thursday for a two-week programme established following an invitation from Mr Cull to Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong.

The students will attend English language classes, visit places of interest around the city and join companies for work experience related to their areas of study.

The students visiting Dunedin were selected through an application process.

Ms Reid said they paid for their air travel, but once on the ground all costs were being met during their two-week stay.

The programme was sponsored by the ANZ bank, with a $10,000 contribution from the council. The University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic were providing some free services.

Mr Cull said the initiatives would have several benefits. Having staff members see first-hand how the other city operated would forge deeper municipal ties, as well as closer professional relationships and, therefore, an even closer bond with Shanghai.

The scholarship programme was an excellent opportunity for the cross-fertilisation of ideas from the respective cities and could lead to more interest from Shanghai students in attending Dunedin educational institutions.

The programme was in accord with the city's Project Shanghai initiative, which aimed to increase Dunedin's economic interactions with Shanghai. Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said it was exciting to see the initiatives coming to fruition.

The student programme was one of the tangible and mutual benefits to flow from the delegation's visit and created closer ties, he said.

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