An experience of a lifetime filled with culture and friendship awaits a group of Bo’ness Academy pupils heading on a special trip this summer.
The 10 teenagers are heading to China this June to develop links between schools here and two middle schools in south-east and south-west China.
The group includes pupils from Bo’ness Academy - Kyle Scott, Angus Fairholm, Sophie Mill, Carla Reid, Lauren Walinck, Stuart Leith and Robbie Hardie (all S4) and from Larbert High - Ryan Kerr, Natasha Swan and Gregor McIntyre (all S5).
Despite fears about strange food, the youngsters, aged 15 and 16, are all looking forward to the trip which will be the eighth time teenagers from Falkirk district schools have visited the country.
While in China the group will visit two schools which are linked with Bo’ness Academy - Shaungshi No. 1 Middle School in Xiamen and Yuxi No. 3 Middle School in Yunnan Province.
For part of the trip the children will stay in hotels but for the final week they will stay in the dormitories at Shaungshi - a school with over 3300 pupils.
Sophie Mill (16) said: “We are going to visit the Great Wall and also the Silk Market.
“I’m looking forward to meeting lots of people and seeing how they live their lives.”
Accompanying the pupils on the trip will be teachers Douglas McFarlane, Carol Ann Morrison and Maureen Bryce.
Maureen, faculty head and international co-ordinator, said: “What is consistent each time we go is that the food and the humidity are what the pupils find most challenging.
“However, that is quickly overtaken by the whole cultural experience.
‘‘They always come back describing it as life-changing.
“It is so different in terms of what they are used to at home, particularly in school.
“There are 50 to 60 children in each class. They get up at 6am and start school at 7.30am.
“They then have a two-hour lunch break where they do actually have a sleep before they go back to class until 5.30pm.
“They are then back in class for supervised study in the evening.”
Learning about Chinese culture is a huge part of life at Bo’ness Academy now. The school was given Confucius Classroom Hub status for Falkirk Council in 2012.
Confucius Classrooms are local hubs based in Scottish schools or colleges which stimulate and support innovative teaching and learning of Chinese language and culture.
Maureen added: “We are looking to embed Mandarin into the curriculum and this year we are presenting our first candidates for Inter- mediate 1 exams.”
To fund the trip, the group has been organising a host of fundraising events including selling football cards, raffling an iPad and hosting a hot chocolate cafe. They will also be bag-packing at Tesco in Bo’ness on May 17.
Another fundraising opportunity comes courtesy of two local breweries - Bo’ness’s Kinneil Brew House and Larbert’s Tryst Brewery.
Each has created a special beer and these will be on sale at the Corbie Inn in Bo’ness with all money from the sales going towards the trip.
The beers are called ‘Beer-Jing’ and ‘Gan-bei’ - which is Chinese for Cheers!