Falkirk pupils picked for trip of a lifetime

Hannah Scott (16) and Shannon Gray (15), pictured with teacher Gillian Lumsden are two of the pupils heading to China
Hannah Scott (16) and Shannon Gray (15), pictured with teacher Gillian Lumsden are two of the pupils heading to China

Five high school pupils from across the Falkirk district are among 50 Scottish youngsters who will be sampling some Eastern delights this summer.

Fifth year students Jack Leiper, Caitlin Allan and Andrew Angus from Braes High and Shannon Gray (S4) and Hannah Scott (S5) from Denny High have been selected for a Mandarin immersion course in China, and will spend two weeks in Bejing and Tianjin this July.

And, in the dawn of the Chinese New Year, the teenagers have been digesting the news of the trip which they all agree will be a fantastic experience.

Not only will the pupils learn valuable language skills, they will also be exposed to a completely different culture.

The pupils were approached by their teachers just before Christmas and asked to apply for the Mandarin course.

And, as they returned to school at the start of 2014, they were told they had been accepted.

Now, in preparation for their trip, they will receive 10-hours Mandarin tuition and attend several information meetings over the coming months.

But for now, the travelling quintet say they are looking forward to the experience.

Jack, from Maddiston, said: “I’ve only been as far as Spain and even then it was quite a British place.

“It’s a different culture and a new experience.”

Wallacestone’s Andrew said: “You see China on the TV, but we’ll have the chance to form our own perspective and learn out a different way of life.

“It’s an opportunity you couldn’t pass up.”

The pupils will be staying in hotels but also visiting Chinese families. Caitlin, from Reddingmuirhead, said: “It’ll be a good opportunity for our future and a good way of building confidence.”

Longcroft’s Hannah Scott (16) said: “I hope to pick up some Mandarin, and I’m really excited about it.”

Shannon (15) from Bonnybridge said: “It’s really exciting and it’s something completely different.”

The pupils will be accompanied by Denny High modern languages teacher Mrs Gillian Lumsden, whose name was picked “out of the hat”.

Mrs Lumsden, head of Dumyat house, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity; a chance in a lifetime.

“I have been trying to learn some Mandarin, but it’s a particularly difficult language.

“This is a first for Denny High so we are all very excited.”

The trip comes through the Chinese Confucius Hub network of schools across Scotland, with the Falkirk Hub thriving at Bo’ness Academy.

Funded by Hanban (Confucius Institute Headquarters), the Tianjin Education Commission and the Scottish Government, the trip will give pupils an opportunity to spend an intensive 18 days studying Mandarin.

At the end of the stay, pupils will receive SQA accreditation and a Youth Chinese Test Certificate (YTC).

But it’s not all about studying and learning.

The pupils will also have the chance to see famous sights like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the Olympic Park.

But despite the excitement, one typical teenager is thinking ahead to what he is going to eat. Jack said: “I think my parents are more nervous than I am. I’m a bit worried I won’t like the food there!”