East meets West this week as a group of so-called 'little diplomats' from Wuhan in China fly into Manchester to visit their peers in three local primary schools.
The thirty 'little diplomats' are aged between nine and twelve years old, and are visiting Manchester as part of a wider delegation led by Deputy Secretary General of Wuhan city, Liu Zhihui, and also including representatives from a number of Wuhan businesses.
Their visit marks the 30th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Manchester and Wuhan that was first established back in 1986.
During their two day stay in the city the little diplomats are being treated to a packed programme of cultural and educational activities to give them a taste of western life and culture. As well as visiting the Town Hall and meeting the Lord Mayor Councillor Carl Austin-Behan, the youngsters will also be going to Manchester Museum, the Etihad Stadium, and the People's History Museum.
The highlight of their visit however is sure to be the chance for them to meet up with local children their own age from Manchester when they spend an afternoon in school with them.
Councillor Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council, said: "The visit of these 'little diplomats' from Wuhan provides a great opportunity for them and for Manchester school children to develop a better knowledge and understanding of each other and other cultures. It doesn't seem all that long ago that a visit like this just wouldn't have been possible, and we should do everything we can to ensure that visits of this kind will always be a possibility.
"They might only be young, but it's probably fair to say that it is often the actions of children that can teach the adults of this world so much about how to behave and conduct themselves, and it's vital therefore that we nurture relationships such as these.
"I have no doubt that our schools will give their young Chinese visitors the very warmest of welcomes, and I'm quite sure that despite the cultural and language differences between them, by the end of their visit all the children will have found some common ground and will be treating each other like old friends."
The little diplomats are all outstanding pupils at their own schools and have been specially chosen to take part in the visit to Manchester. Two thirds of the group are from the Wuhan Foreign Language School - one of the best in Wuhan.
The little diplomats arrive in Manchester today Monday 11 July for visits to Manchester Museum and the People's History Museum in the morning, followed by a visit to the Etihad Campus in the afternoon where they will take part in a football skills session with MCFC coaches, and watch a women's under 16 exhibition game.
On Tuesday 12 July they will meet the Lord Mayor of Manchester at the Town Hall in the morning and pay a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, before spending the afternoon in a local primary school and getting the chance to meet up with local children their own age. The schools they will be visiting are Beaver Road Primary School, Didsbury; Heald Place Primary School, Rusholme; and St Mary's Primary School, Levenshulme.
During their time in the different schools the little diplomats will get the chance at Heald Place Primary School to take part in games and activities at the school's annual Summer Fete, to watch a short play at St Mary's Primary School, and to go on a tour of their school led by the children of Beaver Road Primary School who are all very excited at the thought of welcoming their visitors from China.