HOME > Programmes > Internationalisation Programme > 2019 Learning Journeys > Educational and Cultural Immersion Trip to Xi’an, China. 27-31 May 2019
Educational and Cultural Immersion Trip to Xi’an, China. 27-31 May 2019
A group of 32 Chinese and Malay students from Secondary Three, together with 4 teachers embarked on a memorable journey to the ancient capital of China, Xi’an, from 27th to 31st May 2019. Our five days four nights learning journey allowed us to experience and understand about the rich history and cultural diversity of Xi’an, China, a melting pot of the Chinese and Muslim culture through the lifestyles of the locals, their food and the learning culture in China, as compared to our local education system.
After we reached Xi’an International Airport, we proceed to the Great Mosque, the largest mosque in China. The place was big, quiet and peaceful, with worshippers doing their prayers. Some of our muslim students also seized the opportunity to do so during the fasting month. Right outside the Great Mosque was the Muslim Street, a famous place, well known for selling halal street food. It was a must visit for food lovers of different races. The Muslim Street was lined with rows of shops and restaurants operated by the Chinese Muslims. A wide array of local food that included some of the local favourites such as the soupy dumplings (灌汤包), flatbread in mutton soup (羊肉泡馍) and Xi’An meat burger (肉夹馍) were sold. We were attracted by the ethnic costumes worn by the street hawkers. We walked along the streets and realised that it was not just a place for food lovers but also a place for those with an interest in the art and craft work, such as Chinese Calligraphy or Chinese paintings.
Next, right after dinner, we visited the He Ma Technological Supermarket. Even though there were not many locals there at that time, we noticed that this supermarket was promoting contactless payment. It had many SMART payment counters but only one counter for cash payments.
Customers knew what to do and were busy scanning the QR code on the screen to make their payment. We thought it was similar to our nation’s SMART movement towards promoting contactless payment with apps like paylah etc. But we were also amazed that Xi’an, China is also trying to develop its people to be more IT savvy! However, we think it takes time for everyone to be tech-savvy and are appreciative that in Singapore, our supermarkets provided two forms of payment (cash / online ) that we can choose from to cater to the needs of Singaporeans :)
A new day began with a School Immersion Programme at the 99th Middle School, one of their public schools. This was one of the main highlights of this trip as we get to interact with our foreign buddies. We experienced how schooling is like in China by sitting in the already packed classroom, with close to 40 students who were eager to learn. We also noticed that the teachers there used blackboard to teach which was different from our classrooms. Our initial fear of not been able to interact with our foreign buddies disappeared as many of our buddies were outspoken and friendly. They were eager to know more about us and listen to our sharing. It took a short while for us to be comfortable with each other and friendships were formed. The school visit ended with warm hospitality from our buddies through a singing and dancing performance in their air-conditioned lecture hall.
Our classmate, Abigail also took the courage to go up the stage to sing a song for our buddies and the teachers present. The camaraderie was good and we ended the school visit on a high note by giving each of our buddies a handshake gift that we have prepared for the visit. Through this visit, we witnessed our buddies’ positive attitudes towards learning by taking the initiative to ask their teacher or us for help as we were solving the Math problems. We sensed their hunger for learning and their desire to do well and were greatly inspired by their determination to excel. This was a clear indication that we should also be willing to step out of our comfort zone and learn from each other, show passion in wanting to know more and demonstrate grit and ingenuity by continuously improving ourselves. Like what Baoweng, one of our schoolmates have written in his reflection. “The students there speak good Mandarin which I find it very hard to communicate with them even though I understand but I decided to ask them to write down what they wanted to say so that I could ask my friends for help, this definitely helped me in reaching out to them.” This showed his willingness to overcome the challenge faced at that time and is a good example of ingenuity in trying to overcome the challenges encountered.
On the third day, we visited the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and witnessed the hard work put in by the workers they were trying to apply black ink onto the Chinese Characters that were carved on the stones, which were as old as 3000 years old. We also did tile rubbing. This was an ancient way of mass photocopying, and patience and perseverance were important.
After having lunch, we headed to Chang'an Xingguo Middle School for our second school exchange. Due to the heavy rain, we had the privilege to visit their big canteen that we did not see during our first school visit. We also heard songs that signaled the end of each lesson through the PA system and had a Calligraphy lesson which we were taught how to write our name using paint brush and black ink and had fun writing it.
On the second last day, we visited the Terracotta Museum. We saw figure like warriors, chariots and horses which all looked very old but well maintained. The terracotta figures wore different uniforms and had different hairstyles according to their ranks. We were very impressed and awed by the vast historical site and the amount of time and effort needed to locate the place with good ‘‘fengshui’’ as shared by our tour guide, as well as the patience shown in ensuring that each warrior’s facial expression looked slightly different. After lunch, we went to the Min Le Yuan Street and saw shelves filled with books along the streets. The shelves were unlocked and there were tables and chairs placed for those who were interested to read. This outdoor library is different from what we have here as our own national libraries were located in some of the shopping malls.
The last day ended with a visit to the West City Gate in Xi’an, China. On the city gate , we were able to see the difference in the heights and colours of the buildings, from both sides of the city wall. The right side of the city gate were the older buildings and houses while the left side were the modern complexes. This difference indicated the impact of modernisation through centuries and also portrayed Xi’an, China as a place to visit for China’s rich history and culture.
The overseas learning journey allowed us to bring back valuable learning that cannot be taught and learnt in the classroom. It made us realise that we should be grateful for what we have, the facilities provided by our school and government. We also learnt valuable lessons on the importance of having a positive attitude with determination, perseverance, resilience and self-discipline through the places of visit and the hands-on activities. As what one of our friends, Wu Zheming has shared, his most memorable experience was visiting the middle schools and witnessing the culture of learning in China. We had good memories and thought these valuable experiences are assets that we could keep with us.
Lum Sum Ying (3E2), Janae Tan Ying (3E5) and Kiong Xian Bin (3E4),
Photos credit to Tan Yang (3E4)