Heritage Christian student chosen for summer camp in China

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A Grade 11 student from Heritage Christian Academy is one of just 20 from across Alberta selected to attend a summer camp in China.

John Ayon will spend about 10 days at Qinglai School in Mile City, Yunnan Province in early August. Mile City is about 2,700 kilometres southwest of Beijing.

“I’m really excited to experience the culture,” Ayon said. “When you actually go to these places, you see they are different than what you’ve read or seen on television.”

This will be Ayon’s first trip to Asia, but not his first experience overseas.

This spring he was part of the Heritage Christian Academy delegation competing in the Netherlands Festival of Music. The previous year, a music festival in Orlando, Fla., beckoned.

A few years ago, with his church, he took part in youth conferences and camps in Germany and in the Netherlands. He was born in Nigeria and spent his early years there.

“I really enjoy travelling,” he says. “The destination is always fun.”

Ayon will meet the rest of the summer camp students at a pre-camp orientation on July 11, where he expects he learn more about the experience ahead.

The group leaves Alberta July 31, arriving in Mile City Aug. 1. They return Aug. 11.

Planned activities will include classes in Chinese language and culture, sports activities and festivities with Chinese students and cultural excursions.

The camp is sponsored by Alberta Education, which will pay for students’ domestic travel costs in China and provide $1,500 toward students’ round-trip airfare to China.

Ayon says he’s excited to be immersed in the culture and language.

Alberta Education has had a memorandum of understanding promoting educational co-operation with the Chinese Ministry of Education since 2004. The student summer camp program sees Chinese students visit Alberta or Alberta students visit China in alternating years.

Heritage Christian Academy Principal Ryan Brennan said he encouraged Ayon to apply for the camp program because he’s an exceptional student leader who will represent the school, Palliser and Alberta well.

“John has demonstrated his leadership through his involvement with the Palliser Student Leadership program in March and the planning for next year’s events, the Alberta Student Leadership Conference in Olds in May and with the Sheldon Kennedy Youth Champion program in December,” Brennan said.  “John was also recently elected by his peers to the position of co-president of our student council.”

In addition to student leadership, concert band, jazz band, choir and vocal jazz groups, Ayon enjoys playing basketball.

Palliser Superintendent Kevin Gietz congratulated Ayon on his selection for this international learning opportunity.

“Our students benefit when they gain insight and exposure to other cultures,” Gietz said. “Whether they travel overseas themselves or have opportunity to learn alongside students from other countries here in Palliser, those opportunities broaden their view of the world and open them to new ideas and new experiences. I’m looking forward to hearing about John’s experiences this summer.”