Hong Kong students gained a better understanding of their mother country by taking part in a summer course and internship programme on the mainland. The China Career Development Award Programme, conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) since 1997, was divided into two parts. The first part was targeted at first year students. The 100 participants attended a four-week management training course at local universities and worked at state organisations to gain practical experience. The second part was targeted at second year students. The 73 participants undertook six- to 12-week internships at mainland branches of local companies or state organisations. At the closing ceremony, Ding Hongyu, director of the office for international co-operation and exchange of the Beijing municipal education commission, said: 'The programme facilitates cultural exchange between Hong Kong students and people on the mainland. 'It also gives Hong Kong students a better understanding of their mother country and its economy and society.' Jimmy Chen Chuen, 21, participated in the first part of the programme in early June. The accounting major worked at Bai Wan Zhuang Post Office in Beijing on weekdays and attended seminars and workshops organised by Capital Normal University at the weekends. 'What impressed me most is that they have a strong sense of nationalism. For example, the stamp chop cannot overlap with the head of the premier. Otherwise, it would mean disrespect to the country. And people discuss political issues even in casual conversations,' he said. 'There is no such culture in Hong Kong because we were brought up in a colonial environment and civic education is inadequate.' But Mr Chen said Hong Kong people had the advantage of having an international perspective. 'We are more open-minded and have greater flexibility because of the free flow of information,' he said. Jessie Man Sok-yu, 21, joined the second part of the programme between June and August. The international business major said the experience of working at the retail banking department of HSBC (Beijing) gave her a better understanding of the banking system. Besides marketing research, she also conducted a survey on customer satisfaction. 'It is important to have initiative when you work in a private organisation,' she said. 'People were busy with their own work and did not have time to take care of me. I had to introduce myself and ask for things to do.' Sometimes Ms Man had to sacrifice her leisure time and spend her weekends in libraries to read about China's economic structure and banking system.