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Speech by Chinese Consul General Dong Zhihua at the Special Chinese Assembly at Oberthur Primary School

Dear Principal Mr. Bamber,

Hon. Pierre Yang MLC, representative of Hon. Sue Ellery MLC, Minister for Education and Training,

Hon. Dr. Mike Nahan MLA, Shadow Minister for Planning; Asian Engagement,

Mrs. Jieqi Zhang, President of Chinese Language Teachers' Association of Western Australia,

Teachers and Students,

It is a great pleasure for me to visit Oberthur Primary School and join you at this Special Chinese Assembly. I am delighted to see so many lovely young faces. Thank you Principal Bamber and Mrs. Jieqi Zhang for offering me such a wonderful opportunity to visit Oberthur and special welcome to the teachers and students from Hangzhou Xingzhi Primary School, congratulations to you for having successfully completed your study program here. I am so proud of you. I also want to thank all the Oberthur home-stay families for your warm hospitality and generous support. I am sure the kids have made good friends with each other, and each and every one of you are Youth Ambassadors to help China-WA friendship grow even stronger.

Dear teachers and students,

This has been my first school visit since I came to Perth 3 months ago. Oberthur strikes me as a very special school with a visionary Principal-Principal Bamber. Hon. Dr. Mike Nahan highly commented and recommended Oberthur to me when we first met, and I made up my mind to visit Oberthur and to see by myself. While many schools in WA have dedicated Chinese language classes, Oberthur stands out for its unique Chinese immersion program. I learn that you have three parallel programs to cater for students from Pre-primary to Year 6. Each week students receive 6.5 hours using Chinese mandarin as the target language to teach Chinese literacy, Maths, Society and Environment as well as Music and P.E. I am very impressed by the fact that 500 students of Oberthur are now learning Chinese language.

China and Western Australia are good partners. Mandarin is WA's most spoken language besides English. There are more than 50 primary and secondary schools teaching Chinese as second language in the State. And the WA School Curriculum and Standards Authority has formulated curriculum for Chinese learning from Kindergarten all through to high schools. Hon. Sue Ellery MLC, Minister for Education and Training is very supportive of second language learning including Chinese. Nelson Mandela once said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." Language learning goes far beyond language itself, it is the key to understand another culture and a bridge to another world across oceans.

Again thanks to the personal efforts of Principal Bamber, Oberthur and Hangzhou Xingzhi Primary school have established and maintained sister school relationship with each other. As the Chinese saying goes, "Paradise in Heaven; Suzhou and Hanzhou on earth" Hangzhou is a very beautiful city. I am sure quite a number of Oberthur students and teachers have already visited Hangzhou. And I sincerely hope that you develop real interests and have great fun in Chinese language learning. May you grow up to contribute to China Australia friendship and become real ambassadors.

I have brought with me some presents for Principal Bamber and the students. Tao Te Ching is a Chinese classic text traditionally credited to the 6th-century BC sage Laozi. It is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism. Chinese paper cutting is one of the most popular Chinese folk arts. I have brought you paper cutting collection books featuring cute panda bear and beautiful scenery from various parts of China. I hope you like them and enjoy Chinese culture.

Thank you.


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