For 16 University of Newcastle (UON) alumni, staff members, students and community supporters, months of fundraising and training is about to end as they fly to China to walk a total of 50 kilometres of the majestic Great Wall to celebrate the 50 years of UON.
To date, this intrepid group of ‘China Champions’ has raised more than $50,000 which will go to the Shaping Futures Scholarship Fund, which assists students facing financial hardships or challenges.
As the volunteers prepare to board an 11-hour flight to Beijing, Tanya Carlyle one of the champions, reflected on the group’s achievements so far and admits that they can’t wait to get to China to start the trek.
“It has been a lot of work but we have all helped each other with our fundraising goals through raffles, sausage sizzles, movie nights and food drives. We have all been challenged by the effort involved in training for the 50 kilometres of trekking what is reported to be difficult terrain.
“As a group we hope to be able to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience as well as offer each other support and encouragement along the way. Ultimately we want our generous donors to feel proud, knowing that by sponsoring us to undertake this challenge, they are helping to ease the financial burden on students.”
Physiotherapy student and ‘China Champion’ Annie Nichols is a former recipient of the Shaping Futures Scholarship. She knows first-hand just how important this scholarship fund is. She’s passionate about giving back to help her fellow students. That’s why she signed up to walk the Great Wall of China. Annie is also a member of the newly established UON Student Giving Committee.
Annie and her fellow committee members held a barbecue in early August on the Callaghan campus to help her with her fundraising efforts.
“The Shaping Futures Scholarship made a huge impact on my life and my family’s life. I am thrilled to be involved in the Great China Walk and to have the opportunity to help other students achieve their dreams.”
A number of staff members are taking part, including Professor Richard Dunford, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Business and Law and Gail White, UON Academic Registrar. They recognise the significance of such an expedition, not only because of the huge amounts of funds raised but because the walk will be taking place in China, a country with strong links to UON considering that 80 per cent of international students are Chinese.
On completion of the walk and on their return to Beijing, the inevitably exhausted ‘champions’ can look forward to a reception being held to celebrate their achievements, the University’s 50th year and its ongoing strong relationship with China.
You can follow the China Champions journey between 7-17 September 2015 at www.facebook/greatchinawalk