LINKS with the world's new superpower are being forged in a north Kerry secondary school that hosted a delegation of principals from China this week.
Principals of high schools from the Zhejiang Province in China were deeply impressed by all they encountered at Causeway Comprehensive school - not least the school's hurling skills - in a visit this week that is hoped will lead to deep educational, cultural and business links.
It bodes well for future generations of Causeway students too with China poised to open up more opportunities for highly-skilled western workers as it advances into what many are calling the 'Chinese Century'.
"It was a fantastic visit under the new links Kerry County Council has been working hard to encourage between our county and China," Causeway Principal Lucille O'Sullivan told The Kerryman. Ultimately, it led to a twinning between Causeway Comprehensive and the Xinhe High School in Wenling City, Zhejiang Province.
Unlike the 600-student Causeway school, Xinhe has over 2,000 students and a staff of 254.
"The atmosphere in the school on the day was fantastic with the students extremely excited and welcoming about the whole thing. Our visitors were deeply impressed with what they saw on the day, in particular a display of hurling skills at our hurling wall!"
But it was a greeting laid on for the guests in Mandarin - the main language of the country - that really blew them away.
"They were amazed to hear a greeting from our students in Chinese.
"Our first years and transition year students are learning it and we hope to deliver it as an introductory course under the new Junior Cert in the immediate future," Ms O'Sullivan said.
The Chinese principals were interested in seeing how their Irish counterparts deliver the curriculum. "I'm hopeful the visit will lead to very real links between Causeway and Zhejiang for the mutual benefit of our education and cultural understanding. We are also mindful of the new century as being a Chinese one and the opportunities it might represent for students here in the coming decades," said Ms O'Sullivan.
It is now hoped to send a Kerry delegation to China in the near future, with several teachers in Causeway keen to complete the first part of the exchange.