|Chinese Diplomats at Beijing Olympics Day at St. George’s School|
As the 29th Olympiad closes, the British public has shown a growing interest in the Beijing Olympic Games and China. On 9 July, a special event – Beijing Olympic Day – was held at St. George’s School, Hertford.
The “school church” was filled with an atmosphere of the Olympics and Chinese culture. A large map of China hangs at the entrance, with colourful tags indicating things typical of China: This is the most populous country in the world; this is the third largest country in the world in terms of area; this is the home of tea with over 2,000 years; this is where the four great inventions – paper-making, typography, fire powder and compass; the door opens to the south in China to bring good luck etc. The walls are decorated with dozens of beautifully framed photos of Olympics, which students were viewing with thick interest.
At the start of the event, Principal Norman Hoare said, “St. George’s is proud of having special ties with China. The Olympic Games will take place in Beijing, and everyone here follows closely this grant event and is ready to celebrate with our Chinese friends.” Counsellor Jiu, after briefing the guests preparations for the Olympic Games, said China has made full preparation and will provide good services to athletes, coaches and journalists so that they will not only enjoy the games but also fully experience a true China. After his remarks, students watched a video on Beijing Olympics and had heated interactions with Chinese diplomats. The teenage students vied with each other for question opportunities. Though some might appear interestingly trivial, the questions touched on broad and serious issues. Is Beijing really ready for the Olympics? Can students in China go and watch the games? How can Beijing host thrifty games? What are you going to do with the stadiums after the games? Are students in China free to surf on the internet? Does Beijing have a panacea for quick solution to the environment? There is only one child in a family in China. Do they feel lonely... Counsellor Liu took each question seriously and in vivid language gave the children his answer.
The students said the information they had about China was all from the media and found face-to-face interaction with Chinese diplomats very rewarding and in certain way changed their perception about China. As one student said, “China is in a stage of development and has a lot of problems, for example, environmental pollution. These problems may have been solved in Britain, but we cannot look at China by our own standard. I am sure sooner or later China will solve these problems.”
St. George’s School has a time-honoured bond with China. As early as 1937, George Hogg, St. George’s alumnus and friend of China, went to China as a journalist and covered Yan’an and guerrilla-controlled areas under the Eighth Army in 1938. Following in-depth interview with Zhu De, Nie Rongzhen and other senior military leaders, wrote a book I See a New China, which gave account to the Chinese people’s hard resistance against Japanese invasion and predicted that a new China would emerge under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party where the people would master of their own destiny. In 1944, despite risks of life, Hogg escorted, together with Louis Aileen, more than 60 orphans to Shandan, Gansu Province from Shuangshipu of Fengxian County, Shanxi Province, and then taught the children at Peili Art and Craft School in Shandan as deputy principal. Hogg died in 1945 of overwork and wound infection, at the age of 30.
St. George’s School has set up regular links with Huiwen Middle School in Beijing and Peili School in Shandan, Gansu. To encourage students to learn Chinese, there are two Chinese language clubs in the school. In the words of Principal Hoare, “we plan to launch a foreign language course in Chinese as we do with French and Spanish, so that students will learn more about China and Chinese culture. We are going to carry on what George Hogg left with us and tighten further such emotional ties with China.”