2024 Zhi-Xing China: Global Young Leaders Fellowship


I recently got the opportunity to travel to China and participate in an incredible young leaders program which focused on cultural heritage protection thanks to a joint collaboration between AFS NZ, AFS China, and the Chinese Education Association for International Exchange. I had an incredible time as we traveled through Beijing, Jiujiang and Shanghai getting immersed in ancient Chinese tradition and culture (My favourite of which was engaging in a traditional tea ceremony).

While I was part of a smaller group of nine students from outside China (2 others of which were also kiwi!), we met with a much larger group of international and domestic students studying in China while we were in the Jiujiang portion of our trip. It was incredible connecting with all the like minded young people and getting to hear expert speakers including UN and Chinese governmental leaders discuss the future of cultural heritage protection. I was even chosen to give a speech at the closing ceremony in front of all the leaders and students!
I look forward to keeping in touch with all the friends I’ve made over there and am very thankful for the cultural knowledge I’ve gained through this experience.


I have had the privilege of recently participating in the Zhi-Xing China: Global Young Leaders Fellowship, an incredible opportunity made possible by AFS NZ, AFS China, and the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE).

I cannot express how grateful I am to have experienced this. I am proud to be one of nine individuals selected for this prestigious program, representing the alumni of AFS student exchange program and one of three from Aotearoa, New Zealand. Joining me were other alumni of AFS from Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, a small but very eager group of young individuals to represent our countries and AFS in the best way we know how!

Exploring Beijing, Jiujiang Lushan, and Shanghai, so many different experiences, cultural, environmental, structural, and even spiritual. The warmth of hospitality, the people and of course the food were all so amazing. Those that were with our group from the tour guides, workers, translators, and even camera crew throughout our journey were so patient with us, answered all our questions and made the trip one to
never forget.

This fellowship has been a transformative experience, offering me the unique opportunity to join over 120 students and educators from 27 countries at the global youth heritage education program hosted in Jiujiang Lushan, Jiangxi province.

Together, aiming to foster international understanding and appreciation for diverse cultures while enhancing our awareness of heritage protection and promoting world heritage education. Days filled with exploring iconic landmarks like the Great Wall of China and the National Stadium to immersing ourselves in the rich heritage of Jiujiang Lushan, which included tea culture experiences, visits to UNESCO Global Geoparks, and the beautiful breath-taking scenery that China has to offer, every moment was truly unforgettable that is now embedded within my mind. In addition, to cultural exploration, we had engaging workshops that enriched our learning experience, allowing for meaningful connections with individuals from various backgrounds and cultures. Making everlasting relationships and memories that I will remember for the rest of my life.

I am immensely grateful to everyone involved in organising this exceptional program.
Again there are no words that describe how grateful and thankful I am for such an opportunity.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this life-changing experience!
謝謝你! Ngā Mihi Maioha! Thank you!
Gypsy-Rose Koteka Alumna 19/20 Sweden.

Want to experience China as an AFS student? Check out the programme options here!