Over 570 Irish students when to China in 2016 with scholarships to study not only Chinese but a range of business related subjects.
Some went under a scheme backed by the Chinese government to cover all expenses except travel to and from China. A monthly living allowance of 320 euro is offered as well as a settling-in subsidy of 190 euro.
If the student wishes to study a subject in Chinese, courses in the language are covered for one to two years.
There is also a summer program from Ireland that includes three weeks of language study and five weeks internship in a business company.
Since 1988 Aitece (www.aitece.ie) has facilitated people from Ireland interested in going go to China to teach English conversation and in the New Year two more volunteers will set out, keeping the tradition alive.
What Aitece does is encourage people to go to China, facilitate them in finding a post, prepares them for it and helps solve problems along the way.
It is convinced that Irish people can benefit a lot from experiencing attitudes and ideas which may contradict what is taken for granted here, yet are progressive and positive.
Should Aitece now move into facilitating younger people who would like to study in China? It would seem to be the next step in creating bonds between China and Ireland and refreshing Irish society that is on the verge of being engulfed by Western consumer culture.