During a two week period ending on 1st February 2013, fifty four Taiwanese students visited two state schools –Hellesdon High and Thorpe St Andrew High, organised by The English Experience, Norwich. This was a first for all parties involved; The English Experience has been running integration projects for several years, but this was the first time they had welcomed a group from Taiwan. It was also the first time the Taiwanese organisation had visited the East of England.
The visitors came well prepared to ‘buddy up’ with an English student, wear the colours of the school and become part of every class. All schools involved commented on what a huge success it was. The experience brought together two very different cultures for a unique cultural exchange, the main one being the difference in education. Young English students could not comprehend a twelve hour school day, whereas the Taiwanese students were intrigued by the diversity of subjects available in the British educational system.
The experience culminated in parties and presentations in both schools. Certificates were given, gifts exchanged and senior staff from all parties gave beautiful speeches. By the end of the day it was clear by all the tears and hugs that many lasting friendships had formed and the experience would not be forgotten.