A Flight to Remember

Vivian Huang

Today was Day 9 of Junior Team Canada's Trade Mission to China! The day proper began at the stroke of midnight as people negotiated for space in others' suitcases to make sure everyone's luggage stayed underneath the weight limit for their flights in the morning. The two flights were scheduled for 7:45am and 8:10am so we had to arrive in the lobby, luggage in tow, for 4:30am. My flight was the 7:45am one and left on time while the later flight was delayed by about an hour. The entire journey from Hangzhou to Chengdu was spent nodding in and out of sleep.

Tony Chen, JTC's biggest partner in Chengdu, greeted the group as it arrived at the Crowne Plaza for check-in. He is one of the founders of FutureLink, a Chinese program modelled after the mandates of Global Vision, and the Deputy Secretary-General of the Chengdu Canada Trade and Investment Chamber of Commerce. The schedule for the next five days and the pairings for the 1 on 1 program were distributed on the couch a few minutes prior to meeting him. Tony welcomed us to Chengdu and reminded us about the briefing in the afternoon before sending us off to freshen up in our hotel rooms.

Just over half an hour later, my Chinese partner walked into our room. Her name is Hanwen (Helen) Deng and she is from Chongqing. Helen is developing a platform for English communication among Chinese student to develop practical language skills and encourage discussion on various topics. She is going into grade twelve and interested in coming to Canada to for university, especially Waterloo (Go Warriors!).

At 3:00pm, we arrived in the auditorium of the hotel to be briefed by Tony and Amy about the reception and meet the other Chinese Youth Ambassadors aside from our roommates. CYA is comprised of youth from all over China just as JTC is comprised of youth from coast to coast in Canada. I spoke with Zeel after the briefing to go over his script for his speech for that night's reception as I was his translator. However, rather than writing a script he actually only developed talking points which I was supposed to work from. Challenge accepted.

The Chengdu reception was held at the St. Regis Hotel and called the 4th Sino-Canadian Youth Leader Economic & Cultural Exchange Meeting since this is JTC's 4th time coming to Chengdu. The reception was an incredibly meaningful event with business leaders in various fields giving addresses regarding their hopes for the future, their global vision on how they wish to see Canada and China connect as we move forward in a globalized world, and the rapid pace of development that is happening worldwide but perhaps most evident in China's everchanging landscape.

Aekus gave the keynote speech with Gigi as his translator and was able to share the mission of JTC, to be able to forge meaningful connections with China and promote a productive bilateral relationship, with our audience that included members of the media here! From the CYA side, my partner Helen gave a speech discussing how China is moving towards the future and what Chinese youth are doing to make the world a better place including her personal projects. Following, Zeel and I took the stage to talk about the 1 on 1 program and how significant it is that we can build close connections with Chinese youth and use this opportunity to bridge the physical and cultural divides between Canada and China. 

After the speeches portion of the reception, there was a networking session. People got magnificent food and drinks while being able to connect with each other. I personally got to speak with individuals working in Education, Natural Resources, Tech, and more. 

All in all, today was spent getting to know about Chinese culture on a deeper level and further building a network of people who we can communicate with and potentially work with in the future.