Photo of BIEE 2014 Summer Camp students by Lara Hartman
Beijing International Student Summer Camp
An experience of a lifetime for BC youth
This year from July 14–23, approximately 40 secondary school students from across the province will participate in the annual Beijing International Student Summer Camp. BCCIE has been partnering with the Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE) since 2011 to coordinate this exciting international experience for youth.
Photo by Tyler Fairbrother
The Summer Camp unites students from around the world who share a sense of global curiosity. These students engage in cultural tours, visit key landmarks such as the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, try new cuisine, learn about history and current day life in Beijing, and test their – sometimes tenuous – Mandarin abilities.
The camp concludes with an International Friendship Carnival at the end of the Closing Ceremony, and each country is invited to put on a performance for the entire camp. Every country decorates a booth for the Carnival, and students exchange small gifts with students from all the other countries. It is a night of sharing and friendship, and everyone is excited and happy to be there – the perfect “grand finale.”
Brianne Bailey, a student who participated in the 2013 Summer Camp, shared how influential the Camp was on shaping her perspective of China:
“The opportunity came for me and six other students from our School District in Nelson and Creston to go on a trip to Beijing with BCCIE. I was ecstatic; my neighbours heard me when I found out that I had been picked. So I packed my bags and went to see what I thought China was all about… I arrived after a very long trip and over the course of the next 12 days, I threw out all I had thought I knew about China and started over…When the trip was coming to an end, I had learned so much more about Chinese culture, many more stories about the Chinese people. I was torn to leave.”
The trip proves to be life-altering, fostering internationalism and respect among students, who return home with cross-cultural communication skills that benefit them later in their careers. Studies suggest that employers value employees with international experience. 82% of those who hire recruits with international experience believe they are increasing their competitiveness.1
In addition to career benefits, research suggests that study abroad can actually help people adapt by making them more flexible. William Maddux, an associate professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD, suggests that people who have international experience are “better problem solvers and display more creativity.” Often the most creative entrepreneurs are inspired by ideas that come from beyond their borders.
It will be interesting to gauge the impact of the Summer Camp on alumni 10 or 20 years from now. It is hard to predict which elements of the camp students will remember most, but certain the trip will influence their lives for years to come.
1 Source: Universities Canada. Media release on 2014 Internationalization Survey. November, 2014.