Twelve children of employees of the Hong Kong Police Force were given an exciting chance to take part in an international exchange programme to boost their English proficiency and cultural understanding. The scheme, sponsored by the Hong Kong Police Force and McDonald's Restaurants, aims to give secondary students a more international outlook through a summer exchange programme. The programme is organised by the AFS Intercultural Exchange. This year, 11 students went to Australia, Canada and New Zealand for six weeks and one student stayed in the United States for a year. Police personnel officer Aylmer Yan Wai-pang said children of police officers should make use of the scholarship to experience a completely different educational system and environment. 'We are glad that their confidence in English was boosted dramatically within months,' Ms Yan said. Dorothy Yue Wing-chun, 18, returned from Kansas this summer after a year-long stay, while Peter Cheung Man-hin, 16, was in New Zealand for six weeks. Wing-chun, now studying Form Six at Tak Nga Secondary School, completed her HKCEE in 1998 before going to the US last year. She said: 'I was so worried at first because I had to adapt to a completely new environment. I had to get along with the host family and live according to their values and culture.' Wing-chun said she was lucky that her 'sister' in the host family had been to Hong Kong on the exchange programme and gave her a lot of support. 'It was easier for us to communicate because she knew what our cultural differences were.' Wing-chun said education in the US helped students to learn better. She was impressed by a project in which students had to design a car to run a set distance. 'We had to use our creativity to find a solution. It was not simply mathematical calculations, but it also involved physics, design and technology.' Being open-minded and taking the initiative were essential to making friends in the new environment, she said. 'In the US, we had different classmates in each lesson. I was so lonely at first. The experience gave me motivation to develop relationships.' Man-hin had wonderful memories of living with his host family on a New Zealand farm. He said: 'I never thought I would be mucking out animals, raising sheep, milking cows and even learning to ride a bike. It was new and exciting for me.' At school, Man-hin took part in a school drama introducing schoolmates to traditional Chinese values and culture. He also learned to play rugby and ride a mountain bike with friends and his host parents. The pair said support from friends and family were important in helping them to adapt to the new environment.