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Summer camp unites teens from home, abroad

Updated: 2021-08-03 10:36 ( Xinhua )
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After nine days filled with singing, dancing and martial arts displays, the Shanghai International Youth Interactive Friendship Camp closed in east China's Shanghai Municipality. A total of 39 campers from 16 countries bade goodbye to each other through performances and a chorus of "Auld Lang Syne."

"I love you guys," said campers who hugged one another with tears in their eyes, drawing hearts and writing down parting blessings on each other's camp uniform.

Co-hosted by the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (SPAFFC) and the Shanghai Youth Federation, the aim of the nine-day summer camp was to be a platform for intercultural communication and unite teenagers around the world.

The camp attracted teens from not only China but also 15 other countries, including Japan, the Republic of Korea, Nepal and Turkey.

With strict epidemic prevention and control measures in place, campers participated in multiple cultural activities, like learning Chinese acupuncture and Chinese traditional sachet making.

Campers also participated in a scavenger hunt, leading them to various landmarks in Shanghai.

"Shanghai is so amazing," said Kotona Matsui, a Japanese camper who has lived in Shanghai for over four years. She explained that she discovered a new perspective on the city through the camp.

"I experienced the rich and colorful cultures of the city, enjoying yummy foods and beautiful nature," she said. "I love this city!"

Apart from the journey in Shanghai, the camp also organized activities in the city of Yan'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, a former revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

In Yan'an, they visited local villages and museums, witnessing the achievements of China's poverty alleviation and learning the history of CPC.

"The high white poplars in the fields remind me of my grandma's house, which makes me feel at home," said Elizaveta Koposova, a Russian camper, who told Xinhua that she also felt a sense of belonging to this city when seeing Russian on many signs at cultural relics and museums.

Andrew Trybus, a 16-year-old camper from the United States, was quite excited when talking about learning waist drum in Yan'an.

"I know Yan'an is the destination of the Long March. Before I arrived, I thought it was a distant and desolate place," he said. "To my surprise, it's a fast-developing modern city with rich traditional culture. I believe my future will be more tightly connected with China."

At the closing ceremony of the camp, campers' parents were also invited to watch their kids' performances. Among them was Huseyin Emre Engin, the Turkish Consul General in Shanghai. Having lived and worked in Shanghai for about 10 months, he was seeking every opportunity to learn about Chinese culture. As soon as he heard about the camp, he suggested that his 15-year-old daughter Ela participates in it.

"This summer camp provided a great opportunity for our kids to make a much-needed departure from their daily routines and experience plenty of cultural aspects of China first hand," he said.

From his perspective, Shanghai is a city where foreigners can feel safe, comfortable and welcome.

"Shanghai has spared no effort to publicize Chinese traditional music, drama, art and other colorful Chinese cultures to international friends free of charge," he said. "This is a precious experience you can't get easily in other parts of the world."

Themed "peace, friendship and future," the camp aimed to unite youth around the world and develop friendly relations among countries, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jing Ying, with SPAFFC.

Established in 2005, the Shanghai International Youth Interactive Friendship Camp has attracted nearly 1,500 teenagers from about 70 countries.

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