The only non-Mandarin speaker in the room

At the start of term I attended a series of events led by Chinese Christian students. These were welcome and orientation sessions for new students led by students from the Chinese Church in London and from the Mandarin and Cantonese congregations from St Martins-in-the Fields. It was great to be a guest at these occasions. Over some great food I enjoyed the conversations about the first impressions of the UK from students from mainland China.

At the Cantonese welcome there was a great ice-breaker called ‘name bingo’. Two minutes to go around getting other people to sign your bingo card. Then came the bingo – the first to get five names in a row wins!

Students from Mandarin congregation also ran two drop in afternoons for newly arrived Chinese. They offered tea and cake, as well as advice about Oyster cards, the travel systems, and where to shop for good Chinese food. For the first time I thought maybe I do need to learn at least a few words of Mandarin. At least enough to give thanks for the generous hospitality and openness shown to me!

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