A tour of the mainland has been organised to give 119 overseas students of Chinese descent a better understanding of their heritage. They are among 247 outstanding local, mainland and overseas students from more than 20 countries who are due to depart from Hong Kong tomorrow. Of the students selected for the China Synergy Programme for Outstanding Youth, 119 are studying at universities in countries such as the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia. During the 17-day tour, the students are scheduled to visit Guangzhou, Xian, Shanghai and Beijing, where senior Chinese leaders will receive the delegation next Wednesday. Nancy Poon Mee-bo, who is undertaking the masters programme in education at Harvard University, said she visited mainland China when she was six and now wanted to obtain a real experience of her motherland. Some of the overseas students said they wished to explore the potential for career development in China. Joshua Shoo Jian Hao, who is studying biological sciences at the National University of Singapore, said he was interested in traditional Chinese medicine and intended to build a personal network on the mainland for future development in the field. 'Working on the mainland is definitely an option for me in the years ahead,' he said. Edward Moy, a music student at Butler University in Indianapolis, in the US, said he wanted to gain some inspiration from Chinese music during the trip. Fifty-four members of the tour group are from Hong Kong, while 52 are mainland university students. Twenty-two are from Taiwan or Macau. The organising committee received a total of 1,276 applications for this year's tour, 83 per cent more than last year.