STUDENTS from Birkenhead Sixth Form College welcomed an academic from China as part of its drive to forge links with the East.

Yanfang Si, a languages teacher from Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) in Suzhou, was making her first trip to the UK and visited the college.

After giving a presentation Yanfang met with students learning Mandarin to help them with their language skills.

She said: "The students are very creative, energetic and active in the classroom.

"There was a very positive energy at the college and I was very impressed by the way they got involved with my presentations, asking questions and learning some basic Chinese phrases.

"The college itself looks fantastic and the facilities here are very impressive. I was particularly impressed with the new School of Art and Design which is an excellent place for the students to express their creativity and passion.

"We are proud to be building links with Birkenhead Sixth Form College and I think this will create good opportunities for the students to learn more about China.

"I have been teaching Mandarin for seven years and it is good to see more people – such as the excellent students at the Sixth Form College – wanting to learn the language.”

College Principal Kathryn Podmore and Assistant Principal Kate Rigby made a visit to Suzhou earlier in the year and were delighted to be able to reciprocate the excellent hospitality they received.

Mrs Podmore said: "We were very pleased that Yanfang could take the time on her visit to the UK to come to the college and meet with staff and students.

"She is a very inspirational lady and really galvanised the students into wanting to learn more about China and the Mandarin language.

“The Chinese partnership is an exciting long-term opportunity for the college, our students and staff.

"China is an important economic centre and over the coming years – with the Peel International Trade Centre and the potential of the Wirral Waters scheme – we should be working closely with China to promote the excellent commercial and educational opportunities that Wirral and the North West can offer."