01 December 2006 ORT Strasbourg forges stronger links with China ORT Strasbourg has signed a cooperation agreement with Nanjing Tianjiabing High School in a move that will strengthen its International Trade curriculum. ORT Strasbourg Principal Claude Sabbah signed the agreement with his Chinese counterpart Lu Xiaoxing while on a trip to the Peoples Republic with the Alsace-China Education Association. The agreement paves the way for student exchanges between the two institutions starting from next year. It will also see Chinese teachers improving their French and English with protracted stays at ORT Strasbourg, during which time they will assist ORT staff who teach Mandarin to post-high school students of International Trade. More than half ORT Strasbourgs International Trade students learn Mandarin, which is an optional subject in addition to the mandatory choices of English with either German, or Spanish or Hebrew. The popularity of Mandarin is a sign of Chinas rapidly growing importance on the world stage, Mr Sabbah said. When measured on a purchasing power parity basis, China is the worlds second largest economy after the United States and its GDP is growing at more than 10 per cent. Our graduates will have a great advantage in understanding, analysing and doing business with China thanks to their knowledge of the language. However, improved language tuition is not the only benefit of our agreement with Nanjing Tianjiabing. The agreement also commits Nanjing Tianjiabing to helping us find jobs for our students who have to work abroad for three months as part of the International Trade course. Claude Sabbah (second from right) in China with principals from other Alsace region high schools. ORT Strasbourg is also collaborating with Nanjing Tianjiabing on a book about each countrys history, culture educational system ORTs contribution is to be translated into Mandarin and the Chinese section into French. The nine-day trip to China followed a visit to Strasbourg by a group of Chinese school principals. Mr Sabbah spent most of his time in Nanjing, the capital of the eastern province of Jiangsu, as the guest of the Nanjing Tianjiabing High School, which has 10,000 students compared with ORT Strasbourgs 500. It was my first time in China and I was very impressed by the size, pace and cleanliness of everything around me, Mr Sabbah said. It is clear that they have a strong foundation to achieve quick and far-reaching progress. Mr Sabbah also acknowledged the warmth shown by his hosts. During our talks I told my counterpart, Lu Xiaoxing, and his colleagues about ORTs history from its origins in St Petersburg until today, Mr Sabbah said. I made particular reference to the existence of an ORT vocational school in Shanghai which catered to the needs of the 17,000 Jewish refugees in the city between 1941 and 1950. At the end, Lu Xiaoxing said, You may be a little school if we consider the number of registered pupils but we are the one who feel little when listening to your history. ORT Strasbourg is part of the ORT France network, which comprises seven schools, the others being in Villiers le Bel, Choisy le Roi, Montreuil, Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille.