Joined by youth elites from around China, the national final and youth camp for 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Voices of the Future Youth Forum was held in Zhouzhuang on July 12, selecting 3 Chinese delegates for the APEC Voices of the Future to attend the 2015 APEC Summit events in the Philippines.
Launched in April, students from 100 universities nationwide applied for the selection and 50 students were invited to the final competition and youth camp in Zhouzhuang after two rounds of selection. A series of activities during the week-long camp were specially designed to provide young contestants a comprehensive experience in discovering the natural and cultural scenes of Zhouzhuang while at the same time getting a taste of a new lifestyle that combines heritage and a modern way of life.
Joined by teams of youth from the United States and Mexico, the Chinese competitors embarked on journeys in the ancient water town to search for treasures and learn about traditional Chinese culture.
On July 15, they formed 10 teams and travelled around the town to complete tasks. The young people learnedKun Opera from masters, practiced calligraphy at the Zhang Hall Private School and made traditional wood engraving paintings and qing tuan (sweet green glutinous rice balls, a popular snack for the Qingming Festival).
“A major event like this gives us the opportunity to meet many great people and show our traditions to the world,” Jiang Chunchun, a junior volunteer from Applied Technology College of Soochow University, said. “The ancient town is an ideal host for such international events. Its treasured traditions and heritage offer an enriched cultural experience for us that cannot be duplicated.”
This was not Zhouzhuang’s first time hosting APEC events. Back in 2001, Zhouzhuang hosted the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT), generating considerable international attention. The Zhouzhuang Boat, a two-story floating pavilion built during MRT, has been a famous local attraction ever since.
“We are honored to have been chosen as the host for this prestigious event and hope that these young candidates can carry forward cultural heritage by sharing what they have learned about traditional Chinese culture and history with other teammates in the Philippines,” said Zhang Weiqing, general manager of Jiangsu Water-town Zhouzhuang Tourism Co., Ltd.
He emphasized that Zhouzhuang not only celebrates history and tradition, but combines “lifestyle” with heritage.“Although maintaining an original lifestyle is a key mission of Zhouzhuang, we also have an eye on the future, seeking to bring in new forces and positive vibes. Doing so will help create even more intellectuals as the world continues to move forward.”