20 Years of the Camellia Awards 宁波市人民政府设立“茶花奖”20周年记
Written & Photos by (作者, 图片来源):?Ningbo Foreign Affairs Office 宁波市外办
This past June, the 20th Camellia Awards was hosted by the Ningbo Municipal Government’s Foreign Affairs Office in the Sheraton Hotel. 10 foreign experts received the award, with 12 more receiving memorial awards. The Camellia is the city flower of Ningbo due to its green leaves and big flower. As a symbol of the city, it was decided 20 years ago that it also be the symbol of thanks for foreign experts who have contributed to the economic and social development of the city, promoting communication and cooperation between China and the world in economics, science, culture and education, the Camellia Awards. The award is the highest honor from the city government that can be bestowed upon a foreign expert. Until now, over 136 experts working in Ningbo have received the award, with memorial awards given to 265.
It’s been 20 years, and thanks to the efforts of those who have received the Camellia Award, it has allowed more foreigners to fall in love with Ningbo and settle here.
“More and more foreigners have chosen to settle in Ningbo,” a representative of the Foreign Affairs Office tells me. As urbanization and internationalization increase, the amount of expatriates in Ningbo has increased as well. The foreigners who come to Ningbo have experience in diverse fields, from business and trade to teaching, graphic design and other fields. Many students come to the city as well and end up staying here.
The Camellia Awards serves as a platform for foreign and Chinese exchange represented by the Foreign Affairs Office. In order to integrate the Ningbo community, there have been many activities organized by the FAO. Every March 8th, the city hosts events for foreign ladies, like visits to the Hangzhou Bay New Zone, Xiangshan, and other places.?This year, foreigners were invited on a special tour of Ningbo Cultural Plaza. There, they were able to learn about all the perks of the plaza and to experience Chinese calligraphy, Beijing Opera, traditional music and a tea ceremony at the NBCP’s Arts & Culture Learning Center. The events and the awards are geared towards integrating expats into city life and helping them know Ningbo and feel at home here.
What kinds of practical benefits do the Camellia Awards offer? Those who hold the award can extend their visa from 2 years to 3 years. They are also invited as VIP guests to the city’s major events. For example, winners are invited to the National Day Cocktail Party and can rub shoulders with top city leaders.
At this year’s awards, city leaders stressed the fact that it is a key year for economic reform and changes. Ningbo is prioritizing it’s port economic circle along with other means of internationalization and modernization.?During the awards ceremony, Vice Mayor Wang Jianhou had these words:“We are going forward with an open attitude, seeking to attract further foreign talent. At the same time, we are looking to help foreign experts interact with locals more, to deepen cultural understanding, promote friendly communication, international cooperation and organization.