For many students from Taiwan, a trip to the Chinese mainland is exhilarating and unforgettable.
Yeh Tien-huei, a sophomore law student from Soochow University in Taipei, was fortunate to win a place in a delegation of 220 Taiwan college and high school students to visit the mainland.
Invited by the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, the delegation arrived in Beijing on Thursday.
"We never expected Beijing to be so modern and beautiful, with wide streets and a lot of skyscrapers," Yeh said excitedly,
"Beijing is a magnified version of Taipei."
The delegation, organized by the Taipei-based Ten Outstanding Young Persons' Foundation, are visiting Beijing, Nanjing, Suzhou, Kunshan and Shanghai in a 10-day trip.
During their stay in Beijing, the students climbed the Great Wall, met some of the mainland's Olympic champions, visited universities and met ordinary Beijing residents.
"Before we came, we were looking for the differences between the mainland and Taiwan," Yeh said. "But now we're here, we've found that we are so much alike!"
Yeh said she planned to come to Beijing again in the future and live in the city, as she was won over by the city's profound cultural heritage.
"Chinese culture is very beautiful and we all have a duty to carry it forward," Yeh said.
When Yeh took history courses in university, she was touched by the history of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).
"We united to fight foreign aggressors and we have no reason to be hostile to each other today," Yeh said.
Chen-Yen Ho, a third-year student from the Department of Electrical Engineering, National Taiwan University, said he was amazed to see the mainland's progress.
"Seeing is believing and my parents fully supported me coming here," Ho said. "Such an exchange provides a precious chance to promote mutual understanding and learn from each other."
Ho said he has made some good friends with mainland students.
Hung-Wen Chien, honorary head of the delegation, said exchanges between young people are of profound importance to the future of the Chinese people.
"Blood is thicker than water," Chien said. "Young generations on both sides of the Straits should join to create a better future for the Chinese people."
At the reception banquet in the famous Hepingmen Roast Duck Restaurant Friday night, Hu Qili, chairman of the Foundation, expressed a warm welcome to the students.
"The rapid development of the motherland brings boundless opportunity for young people on both sides of the Straits," Hu said.
"We hope more of Taiwan's young people will come to the mainland to further their studies or develop their careers."
Recently, there has been an increase in cross-Straits youth exchanges. In the middle of last month, the Fourth Straits Youth Forum was held in Fuzhou.
Headed by Lin Yi-shih, vice- chairman of the KMT, a more-than-100-member delegation from Taiwan joined the forum.
The forum was co-sponsored by All-China Youth Federation from the mainland and China Youth Exchange Association from Taiwan.
(China Daily July 10, 2006)