LONGERENONG College students are set to benefit from first-hand experience of Chinese agricultural practices through a proposed student exchange program.
Horsham Rural City Council is working to establish a sister college relationship between Longerenong College and Lijiang College in China’s Yunnan Province.
Council representatives will meet Lijiang College officials next month, with the aim of implementing the program next year.
Cr Pam Clarke said the Horsham contingent would be aided by former Lijiang resident Miao He, who assisted council’s trade mission to Yunnan Province in 2008.
“We’ve got a perfect opportunity in that Jim Lonsdale, past principal of Longerenong College and I are going to Lijiang for Miao’s wedding,” she said.
“We will have representation from Longerenong College and council, so we can go to the college and do the slightly official look around.
“It’s a great opportunity to do it at no cost to council or the college.”
Cr Clarke said it was an exciting project.
“Miao He and I have been working with Longerenong College for about five months now – and with the government of Lijiang – to work out whether or how it’s going to work,” she said.
“They are both colleges, they’re not universities, so that works very well. They are both at the same level.”
Lijiang College has more than 7000 students and offers 10 majors.
Its Department of Life Sciences offers majors in biology, chemistry, horticulture and food biotechnology at three-year college level.
The college specialises in high altitude agriculture.
“When the students from Longerenong go over there, they will experience high altitude farming practices and totally different ways of operating,” Cr Clarke said.
“The Wimmera is a world-renowned grain research area, so they can come out here and see dryland, broadacre agriculture and grain research facilities in our region.
“It will be quite diverse and quite different from what they do.”
“The Wimmera is a world-renowned grain research area, so they can come out here and see dryland, broadacre agriculture and grain research facilities in our region.''
Council’s planning and economic director Tony Bawden – who will also visit Lijiang – said support from the People’s Government of Lijiang Municipality was crucial to the partnership’s success.
He said the Horsham delegation would present a letter of introduction to the People’s Government, along with small gifts.
“Cr Clarke, Miao and I have met Longerenong College’s general manager John Goldsmith and Donna Winfield to discuss the visit,” he said.
“They are now preparing a proposal for hosting a two-week visit of 10 to 20 Lijiang students in the spring of 2015.
“It is understood Lijiang College is proposing to host a similar visit in our autumn.”
Mr Bawden said a sister college relationship would build on Longerenong College’s international exchange program.
He said several Longerenong students would travel to Canada this year.