Dear all,

‘Ni Hao’ from China.

This past week has been very positive yet again. We have certainly been kept busy to say the least, as last Sunday we headed to Hong Kong. Getting there was an adventure in itself as this involved two separate bus trips, a border crossing through customs, followed by a ferry ride to a quiet little fishing bay off the coast of Hong Kong Island, then a 30 minute walk up and over a hill to reach a beautiful cliff lined valley with a sandy beach at the bottom. This was Pak Lap Wan, which means Pak Lap Bay. This was wonderful scenery.

Over the next three days spent there, our students were challenged in many ways, either emotionally from camping on the beach in tents alongside one another or physically by walking 8 kilometres via some steep tracks and hills to visit one of the neighbouring beaches. They also learnt all about the freshwater dam, Geo Park rock formations and geological history of the area. They were all involved in abseiling, sea kayaking and raft building which for many took them out of their comfort zones at different times, yet they all rose above to meet expectations and now realise how resilient they are. They have reflected on how these activities have helped strengthen themselves as individuals and as a whole group, as they relied on one another for emotional or physical support. Overall, it was a great trip to Pak Lap Wan.

Upon our return to the Utahloy International School, the next morning we made a second visit to the Zengcheng No 1 High School and immersed ourselves in their 30 minute morning exercise routine which involved stretching, then a jog around their sports ground. This was quite a spectacle to witness and a huge logistical exercise coordinating 3000 students to run around so they do not run into each other. Alas, after this mandatory warm up, we broke into small groups and were taken to different classes to teach English to their students. Our students were mostly paired up and we had almost 20 classes being taught simultaneously. Each classroom had between 40 -50 Chinese students in them. This was incredible opportunity for our VYLC (Victorian Young Leaders to China) students and they carried themselves with great pride, engagement and enjoyment. All of the Chinese students and their staff really enjoyed our visit, as did our VYLC students for the experience.

The afternoon was spent on the Utahloy property learning about the importance of bees, worms and sustainable farming looking at the bee hives, compost and vegetable garden. That evening we witnessed some traditional Chinese medicine being practiced like massage, acupuncture and cupping as we had a visit from a local practicing traditional Chinese doctor. This was another great opportunity for intercultural learning.

Last Friday we visited the Baishui Waterfall which boasts having the biggest waterfall drop in mainland China. To reach the top you need to climb 9999 steps. Being a large group as we are, we climbed to around 4600 steps to a reservoir which had a wonderful view down the valley, albeit being a bit hazy on the day. I am told the view is much the same as you climb the remaining steps. Nonetheless, as some tired bodies and tight calf muscles ensued everyone did extremely well. Here is a link to the waterfall

After the busy schedule of the past weeks, a rest day was planned so the students could relax and have some ‘down time’. This was much appreciated and a great way to ‘recharge’ their energy levels. Our new team of teaching staff arrived this morning; hence a handover has taken place. We thank them for their guidance and input into the program thus far and wish them a safe return home.

Only two more weeks to go until our China experience is over and I can guarantee it will go fast. More busy times are scheduled for next week.


Kind regards,


Russell Shem – Campus Principal