A Vancouver-area school district's understanding of China will be improved thanks to a unique gift presented Friday by the local Chinese consulate general.
The Surrey School District, the education authority for the fastest-growing municipality in Canada, took delivery of eight boxes of books, containing more than 260 English-language titles highlighting modern China, its history and culture.
Among the titles displayed in the library of Sullivan Heights Senior Secondary were China's Cultural Development in 30 Years of Reform and Opening Up, A History of China's Architecture, Mandarin Made Easy, but also books on the country's arts, ethnic minorities, history, clothing and how to select Chinese tea, among others.
Liu Fei, China's consul general in Vancouver, said she hoped the books would spur great interest among the students about China and promote or foster future exchanges.
I believe the books will be of great benefit to the students and their knowledge of China. As we know, through education exchanges and cultural exchanges, we like to further promote the bilateral relationship and mutual understanding of our two countries," she said.
Mike McKay, the Surrey School District's superintendent of schools, described the gift as "representing the sacred nature of friendship, importance of art, of celebration and of sharing."
"It's a wonderful tribute to learning, to culture, to understanding and the kind of future that we are building between our peoples, between our countries and a very special relationship between Surrey School District and the consulate," he said.
"These are the kind of moments, these are the kind of resources, that allow people to become curious about each other and curiosity builds friendship. Friendship and understanding is the kind of world that we need to make together," McKay said.
The presentation of the books and learning materials was followed by an elaborate 90-minute performance that was the highlight of the 2012 Canada and China Arts Festival for Youth.
With 20 students from the Beijing Dongcheng District Children's Palace Arts Group currently in Vancouver for a nine-day cultural exchange, the young visitors, along with their Canadian counterparts, performed in an East-meets-West variety show.
With a curious audience of grades five, six and seven students looking on, the show featured the Semiahmoo Secondary Jazz Band 12 performing Miles Davis and Radiohead numbers, among others, as well as Chinese cultural performances.
The audience, which had been bused in from elementary schools around the municipality of more than 400,000 people, also witnessed performances by a zither ensemble, a piano recital, a violin duel, Beijing Opera and the University of British Columbia Hanfu Club's rendition of the Return to Han and Tang Dynasties dance show.
"It was great. I had a great time and I got to see some new music, which was exciting. Yeah, I had a good time playing," said student guitarist/singer Trevor Peverley, who performed in the jazz band.
"I found a lot of new instruments that I never heard before, and it's just really exciting to be here."
Zang Yige, a member of the Chinese Folk Music Ensemble, was also excited, adding she was looking forward to the cultural exchanges with her Canadian counterparts.
"I find everything's new to me in Canada," the Beijing student said. "I was told that we will get chances to have exchanges with Canadian students of our age in music and studying. I really hope for a lot. I hope to improve my English in the exchange of music and arts. I like Canada very much, though I have been here only for two days."