On April 24, 8 teachers and student from St. George's V.A. School in Hertfordshire, including President Norman Hoare and Project Coordinator Barbara Gerwien, visited the Chinese Embassy in the UK and had friendly conversations with Chinese diplomats there.
Hoare believed that the indissoluble bond between St. George's V.A. School and China should be attributed to George Hogg, a person pursuing the UK-China friendship during the Second World War. Hogg is a graduate of St. George's V.A. School, he went to China as a reporter of United Press International after he graduated from the university. China was being invaded by the Japanese and Hogg felt the misery of the Chinese so he resolutely decided to stay in China to help them. In 1938, Hogg visited Yan'an and guerrilla area of the Eighth Route Army in the enemy's rear, he had in-depth conversations with some senior generals of the Chinese Communist Party, such as Zhu De and Nie Rongzhen, and wrote a book named I See A New China, which introduces the anti-Japanese war of the Chinese people to the west and foretells that a new China led by the Chinese Communist Party with the people having the final say will replace the regime of the autocratic, corrupt and incompetent Kuomintang.
Hoare followed: in 1944, Hogg escorted more than 60 Chinese orphans from Shuangshipu, Feng County of Shaanxi Province to Shandan County of Gansu Province with Rewi Alley at the risk of his life, then he worked as Vice President of Shandan Peili Art School. He taught the children to build their confidence in wining the anti-Japanese war, to form optimistic life attitude and to grasp the skills so as to construct their country. At the same time, Hogg participated in the work for the women in Shandan County, assisted the local education and health work, helped to make quilts and clothes for the army and went all out to support the anti-Japanese war of China. In 1945, Hogg died when he was only 30 years old due to hard work and wound infection. To remember his good friend, Rewi Alley set a tablet for Hogg with the following inscription:
Brilliant and warm,
People have always exert themselves for it!
And can not fight any longer,
But his life,
Is more illustrious.
Hoare said the story of Hogg and the heroism and humanitarianism it contains have moved a lot of UK people, Roger Spottiswoode, the formal director of 007 series, directed a film named The Children of Huangshi with the story of Hogg as the subject matter and reproduced the story that happened more than half a century ago on the screen, which has brought new attention on the memory of the youth in both countries. In order to know more about the extraordinary story of Hogg and recapture the precious friendship between the Chinese people and the UK people during the Second World War, teachers and students of St. George's V.A. School came to Shandan County to retrace the footprints of Hogg in February 2008 with the support of the British Council and Chinese Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and had informal conversations with the elders who had contacts with Hogg in the past and graduates of Shandan Middle School.
Hoare showed the short newsreel on the visit of the teachers and students to China, which demonstrates the familiarity and respect of a lot of persons in Shuangshipu and Shandan to Hogg, the spreading of such deeds of Hogg as escorting the Chinese orphans and helping the local people in the anti-Japanese war among the local teachers and students, the "Hogg Lane" named after Hogg in Shuangshipu, the solemn and spacious tomb of Hogg built by the people of Shandan County, and the huge statues of Hogg and his children in the parks for the admiration of the visitors.
Hoare said that thanks to the legacy left by Hogg, many UK students of St. George's V.A. School love the Chinese culture, are enthusiastic to learn Chinese and hope to visit China so as to have a close contact with the Chinese culture and Chinese people. St. George's V.A. School will take the visit to Shandan as an opportunity and take Hogg as the example, so as to promote the teaching of Chinese in the school, expand the exchanges with Chinese schools and further deepen the friendship between the two peoples. At present, St. George's V.A. School has established the inter-school exchanges with Beijing Huiwen Middle School and Shandan Peili School, it also plans to expand the Chinese Summer Camp, implement the plan on teacher exchanges with Chinese schools and appoint a part-time Chinese teacher. St. George's V.A. School has used the newsreel of the visit to Shandan as teaching material of the school and plans to introduce it to other UK middle schools. St. George's V.A. School hopes to further strengthen its exchanges and cooperation with the Chinese Embassy.
Some students talked about their feelings about the visit to China and noted the huge differences between the eastern part and the western part of China. The big cities in east China are as prosperous as New York while the natural and idyllic scenes in west China are of a different style, which shows the size and complexity of China. The Chinese culture, language, history and music are amazing and we hope we can get more chances to visit China. Some students and teachers said they were willing to teach English to the children in the remote regions of China and make contributions to the civil exchanges between the two countries like Hogg. Some students also mentioned that they found many lama temples and other religious places in Shandan County and saw the harmonious coexistence of all ethnic groups, including Han, Tibetans and Muslims, which is quite different from the reports by the UK media. Seeing is believing, one has to go to China himself to see a true China. Counsellor Liu Jinsong welcomed the teachers and students to the Chinese Embassy and commented that the story and spirit of Hogg are moving and worth to be remembered and inherited by the youth of both countries; the visit of the teachers and students of St. George's V.A. School to Shandan with the purposes of finding out the precious historic materials in the Sino-UK exchanges and getting to know more about local conditions and customs of west China is helpful to the promotion of the understanding and friendship between the people and especially the youth of both countries, which is remarkable; the Chinese Embassy is willing to provide its assistance to St. George's V.A. School for the further development of its Chinese teaching and exchanges with China.