Last year President Xi and Peng Liyuan visited Tasmania. President Xi has called for people-to-people exchanges to develop collaborative relationships across country boundaries.
I had the chance to lead 10 young women from Sun Yat-sen University's School of Tourism, China to Singapore, Bali and Lombok- Indonesia for 16 days in July. For many, it was their first overseas trip. This field trip, as evidenced by student learning portfolios, wechat uploads and pair visual presentations, has developed ‘intelligent tourist behaviour awareness’ (as outlined by Prof Philip Pearce keynote speech #3, IGU Tropical Tourism Outlook Conference, Lombok island July 2015), developed intercultural awareness and communication skills across linguistic-cultural boundaries, as well as enhanced design and planning awareness for events, tourism and hospitality management.
The ten students did an outstanding job as volunteer members of the tropical tourism conference organising committee, and are authentic ambassadors of STM, and of China. Everywhere we went, people looked, smiled, engaged in conversation and were so impressed by their model behaviour, that is professional, but able to mix confidently- share, laugh, sing, dance and develop friendships, especially with their counterparts at UNRAM in Lombok.
At their first meeting, all the students, both Chinese and Indonesian, were anxious: how will we communicate? What will they think of me?
In a very short time, they were sharing national songs, jokes, dancing and sharing social media contact details.
Presidents Xi and Widodo both have recommended people-to-people exchanges between China-Indonesia to promote mutual understanding, friendships and professional collaboration- these ten students are an exemplary case to highlight the benefits of such exchanges, and I am sure friendships will be maintained in the long term, as students on both sides overcame initial shyness and are now facebook and wechat buddies.
What powerful partnerships will emerge from these exchanges?
Hello to all our friends in, and from China! And also from Indonesia!
As a gentle provocateur of positive change,