Students to welcome Chinese premier

08:17, December 15, 2010      

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Madhulika Sen, principal of the Tagore International School in the Indian capital, wanted to make sure that her students get a chance to talk to "Grandpa Wen" and have pictures taken with him when he visits the school on Wednesday afternoon.

Sen sees the arrival of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as a significant occasion and a great honor as the premier made her school the first stop of his three-day visit to India.

Teachers were busily hanging red and yellow ribbons in the school's auditorium where Wen will teach the students Chinese calligraphy and tai chi.

Sen said that Wen's visit will help raise students' awareness of China and it also highlighted the importance the premier attached to the people-to-people bonds between India and China.

"For our schoolchildren, China and the Chinese people are something they have heard of but never seen. The premier's visit makes it visible," Sen told China Daily.

The school, named after Rabindranath Tagore, renowned Indian poet and novelist and the first non-European laureate of the Nobel Prize in literature, was chosen for the premier's visit because it will be among one of the first Indian secondary schools to introduce Mandarin into the curriculum next year and it will receive teachers from China who will train the local faculty in Chinese classes.

The school is also one of the leading secondary schools in India that has educational exchanges with China. It has an ongoing program on calligraphy and yoga classes through video conferencing with Jinyuan School in Shanghai.

During his visit to the school, Wen is also expected to announce a decision to provide textual and audio-visual materials to Indian schools to help teach Chinese, a proposal raised by India's Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal when he visited China in September.

While economic ties between China and India have been growing quickly over the past decade, people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges remain limited.

Only about 650,000 people are involved in exchanges or travel between China and India each year, a very small number given the large populations of the two countries.

"To have the premier here is like a once-in-a-life opportunity because it is really rare for a country's leader to visit a local school and have grassroots interaction," said Suneela Chopra, a teacher for students with visual impairment and learning disabilities.

"It really shows that the premier is concerned about the people and the younger generation here," she said.

Samin Badra, a 14-year-old ninth grader, is lucky to be chosen as a student representative to participate in the event. He will greet Wen in Chinese and will have the opportunity to ask him questions.

"I want to ask him about China's political system, economic development and policy decisions such as how the government handles natural disasters," Badra said. "The premier's visit will be beneficial for our school and our country."

By Li Xiang, China Daily
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