THE cast of a Chinese circus swapped cultures with Portsmouth students while visiting the city.
Students and staff from Portsmouth College met performers from the Chinese State Circus before its two-night residence at the New Theatre Royal.
Three students from the college’s modern business, language and culture course showed the circus their developing Mandarin.
Meanwhile, the troupe gave students Robert Sainsbury, 17, Timothy Wong, 16, and Amna Khan, 16, an exclusive preview of their astonishing acrobatic skills.
Principal of Portsmouth College Steve Frampton said: ‘We’re very grateful to the company manager and the troupe for taking time out of their rehearsals to spend some time with us.
‘When we have visitors come to the college or to the city, we can at least be courteous and have a basic understanding of their culture and their language.’
Portsmouth College introduced the extracurricular course for 40 top students this year in a response to local businesses’ concerns over a lack of staff understanding of China and its culture, language and business.
Mr Frampton added: ‘I think there’s a lot of education at the moment that’s very target-driven and exam-based, but this gives these young people an opportunity to talk to people their own age from China who are here to provide a fantastic show for the city.’
The Chinese State Circus performed its latest show, Dynasty, at the New Theatre Royal last night, and will again tonight.
Company manager Said Debbach said: ‘The troupe members travel all over the world with the circus, and everywhere they go they learn about the cultures.
‘It’s very important for them to know about the sort of people that live there, what activities they do, and even what food they eat.’
‘We’re very excited to explore Portsmouth. I’ve been looking around already and it’s a really beautiful city.’
Li Feng, an acrobat with the troupe, said: ‘I’ve been to the UK about three or four times before. It’s a beautiful country and everybody’s different, I like that very much.’
During the visit, Li, 30, chatted with student Amna in his native tongue.
Amna said: ‘Getting the opportunity to speak in Chinese to Chinese people was really cool. It’s important for everyone to learn languages. When you speak to someone in their mother tongue, it goes to their heart.’