Company Special: Children connect across cultures and countries at Bluestar camp

来源: 中国日报

    When Owen Sloggett learnt how to make dumplings in Beijing last month the 13-year old made sure he did not miss any detail.

    He enjoyed them very much and said he would make the "pretty cool" food for his family when he returned to Australia.

    Trying Chinese food and staying in a Chinese home were just a part of Sloggett's experience during the 20-day summer camp he attended in July.

    The camp, organized by the China National Bluestar Co, welcomed 950 children, 46 of whom were from outside China.

    The children were aged between 8 and 15 and were all the sons and daughters of the chemical giant's employees from around the world.

    The State-owned enterprise has 30 subsidiaries across the nation and has made several overseas acquisitions since 2006. Among them are French companies BSI and Adisseo, Australian company Qenos, where Slogget's father works, and Elkem in Norway.

    The camp started in 1990 to help Chinese employees take care of their children during the summer vacation. Since it became international in 2009 the camp has taken on a new role as a bridge between different cultures.

    "Children are culturally sensitive. They can tell their parents what the company, the Chinese and China are like when they go home," said Lu Xiaobao, general manager of Bluestar, in an earlier interview.

     The camp's curriculum was designed to promote personal growth, social responsibility, corporate awareness and different cultures. Popular courses this year included Chinese songs, folk dances and martial arts, according to the company.

    "Many kids, especially foreign ones, like martial arts because a lot of them like kungfu movies," said Duan Yi, 26, the martial arts teacher at the camp.

    "Some hope they can fight like Jackie Chan after they finish the camp but I tell them the essence of Chinese kung fu is not fighting but bravery, perseverance and chivalry and finally inner peace."

    Duan said it was unlikely that the children would make much progress as fighters but he hoped they learnt more about the spirit of the art form.

    The camp experience impressed 13-year old Jade Bridgeman, whose father also works at Qenos.

    Bridgeman said she visited several places of interest including the Great Wall, the National Museum and a butterfly garden.

    She also made a Chinese friend called Nina. "She speaks English very well and she is in my little group," she said.

    Bridgeman played and sung with her new friend everyday and got accustomed to saying hello and goodnight in Chinese. She said she would like to learn more about the language and culture.

    "It is very interesting and I'll be grateful to Bluestar for providing it," said the girl, who added she was happy that she took his father's advice to join the camp to learn a different culture.

    Astrid Rousseau, a 44-year old communication manager at Adisseo, led her company's delegation to the camp this year after her son Louis had a great time there in 2009.

    "I am enjoying it. The Chinese people are very friendly, open-minded and they are eager to learn more about us," said Rousseau.

    She added that the experience gave her a better understanding of her Chinese colleagues.

    Finance manager Anette Bergseth was head of the Elkem delegation to the camp, which she attended with her two children.

    "They have learned a lot. They are washing their shirts and have all their things in order," said Bergseth, with a smile on her face.

    "They get stars for doing a good job. I really look forward to them doing the work at home."

    Knut Stian Moen said the camp provided an opportunity for him to know more about China.

    "It is totally different from a business visit or a leisure tour, where you just visit places of interest and cannot get in touch with people," said the 40-year old IT manager at Elkem.

    He said some of his colleagues were worried when Elkem was acquired in 2011 but now they were happy as Bluestar invested in Norway.

    "If they sponsor as before, then we will be very happy," said Moen.

    "And they should continue with the summer camp. I think it's a really good thing as it offers opportunities for our children to make friends with not only Chinese kids, but also meet children from other countries, like Spain and Australia."

    Li Huili has been chief coach of the summer camp since 2009 and said the program made her renowned in Bluestar's overseas companies.

    "When I visited Qenos as a member of the general manager's delegation, I thought nobody would know me. But when the colleagues there learnt I was the camp lady many rushed to shake my hands, telling me how their children have changed."

    More than 10,000 Chinese and foreign youngsters have now enjoyed the camp activities free of charge.

    Li said there were many unforgettable moments from the camp over the years, but what moved her most was a long letter from an Australian mother who expressed her gratitude after her son learnt to work with others at the camp. Before the camp the boy had been asked to change school because he was always alone and teachers had given up on him.

    "The camp is more than just a camp but like a bond that connects children and all others who have been involved in it," said Li.

    "Among others, each year as we celebrate the Spring Festival they send us videos of their wishes."

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