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Students impress visiting Canadian politician
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A senior Canadian politician says he is "blown away" by the English language skills of Chinese students.

"The highlight of my first week-long trade mission visit to China was seeing those smiling Chinese students speak such perfect English and have so much knowledge about Canada," New Brunswick premier Shawn Graham told a gathering at a Sino-Canadian college in Beijing.

"I can foresee a bright future for our two countries, as these students are our next generations and will bring us closer. Your English blows me away."

Graham's 10-strong delegation of ministers and teachers visited Beijing Concord College of Sino-Canada, the first joint cooperative boarding college in Beijing.

The school offers bi-lingual courses in senior high school and post-secondary education, which combines both Chinese and Canadian curriculums. The college currently has 1,200 students, mostly Chinese.

The project links the Experimental Middle School, attached to Beijing Normal University, with New Brunswick's Education Department and Canada AKD International.

In 1997, Dr. Francis Pang, chairman of the college, wrote to all the Canadian premiers about the possibility of establishing a Canadian school in China. Graham's predecessor was the only premier who replied. "Today we see the tremendous success brought by that initiative," he said, "not only for the school here in China, but also the citizens of New Brunswick".

As part of the curriculum, Chinese students spend a semester in New Brunswick. "They became ambassadors for China," he said proudly.

"It was good experience for New Brunswick and Chinese families who were able to come together through our children."

"Chinese culture has great potential for enhancing New Brunswick's offer to the world. We have set an ambitious target of growing our population. There are so many opportunities for immigrants to move to New Brunswick and still maintain family ties in China and achieve success."

Dr. Pang opened another school, the Canadian International School of Beijing (CISB) in 2006, to serve foreign diplomats' children. CISB, which has students from over 30 countries, operates under the guidance and oversight of the New Brunswick Education Department, which provides all the curriculums and most of the teachers.

Graham, who was a teacher before being elected premier, says he has "an affinity to the teaching profession" and the visit to the two schools was an important feature of his visit. "I recognize the power of education," he said.

(China Daily November 13, 2008)

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