Bendigo popular destination for Chinese delegation

Bendigo popular destination for Chinese delegation

26 May 2010

Bendigo’s popularity as a destination for Chinese academics has received a ringing endorsement with the ninth Bendigo Homestay program this year attracting 39 delegates.  

Chinese FlagThe delegation is from various universities across China including Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Nantong and Zhenjiang. During their 10 weeks stay each academic will be live with a Bendigo family in their home.

Mr Julian Zhang, La Trobe University’s Manager of International Research Development, said the success of the program is due to the Bendigo community and their support for the Homestay program by opening their homes to visitors.

‘We believe the experience of living and studying in Bendigo has contributed to Chinese delegates coming back to our University every year,’ Mr Zhang said.

‘Homestay is an excellent opportunity for Bendigo people to share in a unique cultural exchange program, make new friends and exchange information and opportunities,’ he said.

Retired couple Ken and Jeanette Westhead from Strathdale, Bendigo, fell in love with hosting international guests and have been a part of the La Trobe University program for the last five years.

‘I always say you get as much out of the program as you put into it- the friendships you establish are incredible.  The more involved you are in the program, the more you become a member of an extended family,’ Jeanette said.

Ken and Jeanette believe the experience allows them to not only appreciate the Chinese culture but also what the Australian culture has to offer.

‘Hosting academics from China, we have come to appreciate what the Australian culture has to offer to our international guests,’ Ken said.

This year the Homestay hosts will receive $210 per week for providing an individual bedroom, meals and sharing family activities with their visitors.

From 22 June the Chinese academics will take part in an English and Education short course training program at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus.

Mr Zhang says that staying with Australians in their homes while undertaking the course helps the academics to improve and sharpen their English skills. He said the course gives the academics an opportunity to strengthen their English skills and go back home to confidently teach their discipline.  
Mr Zhang aims for Bendigo to become a well-known English training destination in Australia.

‘I believe the main reason why our program has been running for nine years is because of the warm reception our visitors receive from our Bendigo families,’ Mr Zhang said.
‘If it wasn’t for our eager and willing host families our short course wouldn’t be running for nine years.  The families are the main reason Chinese academics love to come to Bendigo,’ he said.

‘Our visitors are able to engage in Australian culture and learn English first hand by living with local families, our visitors feel more comfortable to use English more freely which helps them excel in our short course,’ he said.
La Trobe has organised an informal night for previous and potential hosts to share experience of hosting Chinese visitors.

Interested members of the community are invited to attend the Homestay Program information session from 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm on Wednesday 9 June 2010 in the Burnett Lounge at La Trobe University’s Osborne Street campus.

Enquiries may be directed to Homestay program coordinator, Jacqui Fraser, phone 5444 7957, mobile 0419 549 209, email


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