Anthony Bravo, principal of Basingstoke College of Technology, writes:
My preparations for my next trip to China this month are advancing well, despite initial rejection of my visa. My photo wasn’t good enough, even though it was the same picture I had used for the previous two trips! I have had my injections, stocked up on industrial strength insect repellent and I am seriously thinking about face masks for the Beijing part of the trip.
I am feeling a bit like a travelling salesman, planning to cover thousands of miles and present in four different colleges about leadership, apprenticeships, quality assurance and governance. I have even had a video made by my Chinese students to extol the virtues of Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) to the Chinese audiences. My dream is to come back with Chinese students to start degree courses with us, or partnership arrangements to teach the first year in China.
The cherry on the top will be the twinning of Beijingstoke with a Chinese town or city!
I will be traveling initially with my chair of governors, our assistant principal for business and the head of English to share the burden. Then I will deliver their presentations throughout the rest of the trip.
I am practising my Chinese (badly) with two visiting teachers from Xingtai Modern Professional School who are spending a month on an exchange visit at BCoT.
I am sensing that this trip will involve less ‘Gan Bay!’ [a traditional Chinese toast] than the last one, as there has been a significant shift in government policy regarding entertainment (poor timing, Bravo!) but it is easier, if less fun, to negotiate sober.
The next immediate challenge is to set up a video call with one of my host colleges, who, when I visited previously, were using 386 PCs. I think smart phones may be the answer, the growth of which, in China, has overtaken PCs now.
Other big changes in China since my last visit are the relaxation of the one child per family policy, an increased focus on developing world skills and apprenticeships, and the promotion of the Chinese Dream.
One thing about China, the pace of change is phenomenal. Anti-corruption is now a major theme, getting rid of ‘bad big potatoes’, they call it. I have been warned not to be surprised if some people I met last time are no longer around!