Chinese exchange student stoked to meet her pal, the premier of Nova Scotia

Published on March 16, 2017

Yifan Wu, or Sierra as her Avon View High School classmates know her, shows Premier Stephen McNeil a photograph while the pair catch up March 16 in Windsor.

©Carole Morris-Underhill

WINDSOR, N.S. — A Chinese exchange student could hardly contain her excitement when Premier Stephen McNeil arrived at the Hants Community Hospital for a press conference.

Yifan Wu, or Sierra as her Avon View High School classmates know her, was grinning from ear to ear as McNeil made his way towards the podium – but before he made it that far, he spotted her and came right over.

Wu, a Grade 11 exchange student, said she first met McNeil in China last fall when he was looking at their study conditions. McNeil travelled there in September in hopes of strengthening trade ties and encouraging students to come here.

When she saw him on the television recently, she couldn't believe her eyes.

Maria Bravo Panos, from Spain, met Premier Stephen McNeil March 16 when her exchange family, Greg and Brenda Shiers, stopped by the Hants Community Hospital so Yifan Wu, of China, could meet McNeil again – but this time in Canada.
Carole Morris-Underhill

“My house parents and I watch the TV together and I said, 'Wow, I know that friend. That's my friend!' and my house mom said, 'Maybe I can help you achieve a dream – you can see him again here in Canada,'” said Wu.

Her house parents, Greg and Brenda Shiers, of Three Mile Plains, reached out to the premier's office to see if they could set up a time to meet him. That's when they learned the premier would be in Windsor March 16 announcing the upcoming renovations at the Hants Community Hospital.

“I didn't say nothing. I just stood here and he looked at me and oh my god, he knows me!” Wu said through giggles.

Brenda Shiers, accompanied by her husband and Spanish exchange student Maria Bravo Panos, took one look at Wu, who was still smiling after the encounter, and said seeing how excited she was to meet the premier was well worth it.

Wu is in Nova Scotia as part of a five month educational exchange program. She will return to China at the end of June.