TWO Irvine brothers have hosted a dinner with Nicola Sturgeon in China after winning a year-long scholarship in the Far East.

Twins Owen and Robin Wilson wined and dined the First Minster last week during her current visit to China.

The brothers, who are 18, flew out to Beijing last year after both winning a place on the coveted Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS) Scholarship Programme which, in partnership with Strathclyde University, sees 23 students picked to live in China and attend Tianjin Foreign Studies University for a full academic year.

Incredibly both Owen and Robin secured a place from the 76 teenagers who applied from across Scotland, making mum Jacinta extremely proud.

She said: “Oh I am so very, very proud of them both. In fact the whole family are.

“They are just following their dreams and doing what makes them happy and as a parent that is all you can hope for.”

On Ms Sturgeon’s first day in the country she met with Owen, who speaks French, German, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin and English, and Robin, who speaks Mandarin, French and English, and some of their classmates, and announced a £750,000 investment to help others follow this path.

The cash will go to the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS) Scholarship Programme. Jacinta says the boys loved meeting the First Minster.

She said: “All the students got to meet her and chat with her but then Owen and Robin got chosen to attend a private meeting with her and then they were picked to host the dinner. They were very pleased.

“They have loved their time out there so far and I think they are both hoping to continue their studies out there.”

Speaking on the University blog Robin said: “Aside from the initial adjustment to dodgy internet access and a much earlier start to the day, settling in hasn’t been as difficult as I had first imagined it might be.

“The variety of international students we’re around is another huge factor I love about living in the centre of international exchange.

“I’ve already made lots of new friends from places such as Korea, Belgium, Portugal, Russia, Ukraine, Columbia, France, Ivory Coast, and many more.

“Many of the other foreign students have little knowledge of English, so we’re forced to communicate using languages we’ve either studied back at high school, or better still, through our new common language of Mandarin Chinese.”

Owen added: “There’s so much to do here, on and off campus. Of course I’ve been able to keep up my table tennis, but I’ve also found myself trying new things, from cycling on the terrifying roads and becoming a master jaywalker, to eating an entire chicken head somewhere in the mountains on the outskirts of Beijing.

“Open mindedness is extremely useful when you move to a country like China. Everything is so drastically different, but often in a good way.”