Key visits 'the Harvard of China'

Davina Lach and Tony Fiddis are both Victoria University students who are studying at Peking University in Beijing. Photo / Audrey Young
Davina Lach and Tony Fiddis are both Victoria University students who are studying at Peking University in Beijing. Photo / Audrey Young

Davina Lach, a New Zealand student studying at Peking University, has come full circle.

War in China last century forced her family to leave China for the safety of Cambodia which is where they stayed until Pol Pot took power in Cambodia, so they moved to New Zealand.

Born and raised in Wellington, Davina is now making Beijing her temporary home while she studies Chinese language for four months.

She and friend Tony Fiddis joined a dozen New Zealand students at Peking University to listen to Prime Minister John Key speak there yesterday.

She went to Wellington Girls' College and he went to Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth before they went to Victoria University.

Both studied Chinese language at Victoria University for six months last year then decided to join an exchange programme at Peking University, something John Key called the Harvard of China.

Tony says that it is more than that. "I would say it's the Harvard, Yale and Princeton combined. America has about nine or 10 ivy league universities; China has two, this one here and Tsinghua."

"Where there were only two in a country of 1.4 billion, the prestige of this university is huge."

Through the links that Victoria has with Peking, they pay domestic fees, $1400 for a semester (about a half year) What made it even more affordable were the living costs. Dinner cost about $1 or $2 and to go out somewhere nice would cost about $5.

Their studies in Peking count towards their China studies in Victoria.

But Davina would like to return to Beijing soon to continue Chinese.

Tony put his fifth year of law on the back burner to come to Beijing to learn the language.

"This would have been my final year. This is how much I feel that Mandarin is important to New Zealand's future - and my own future."

- NZ Herald

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