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Summer Camp Helps Foreign Youth of Chinese Origin Seek Root

Dressed in traditional Chinese costumes, the teenagers vowed in awkward Chinese that they would never forget their root in China.


The ceremony in east China's Zhejiang Province unveiled the root-seeking summer camp for about 130 youth with Chinese origin from 13 countries.


These young people, with age ranging from 8 to 21, will have classes for Chinese language, calligraphy, painting, dancing, martial arts and Beijing opera in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang. They will also pay a visit to Beijing, the national capital.


"I want to know more about the country where my parent grew up, " said 17-year-old Chen Lei who was born in Spain, adding "I think it is a good chance for me to make new friends here." He admitted that his Chinese vocabulary is limited, shrugging now and then when he couldn't find proper words.


The hometown of Chen Lei's parents is Zhejiang. According to Chen Lian, director of the Research institute affiliated to the Hangzhou Youth and Children's Center, undertaker of the activity, Zhejiang is the ancestral home of 70 percent of the China-born Europeans, about 150,000 to 180,000 in number.


In recent years, foreigners with Chinese origin have increased cooperation and exchanges with their motherland, Chen said. Many adults find it difficult to communicate with their children growing up in foreign countries, both linguistically and emotionally. They wish to send their descendants back to learn Chinese language and culture.


The summer camp, kicked off on Tuesday morning, would last for 40 days. The first session of the summer camp was organized in 1998 with only nine participants from Italy.


Except in 2003 when China was plagued with SARS, the summer camp has been held in eight consecutive years. Over 650 people have taken part in altogether.


(Xinhua News Agency July 13, 2006)


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