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China - Suzhou

Day 1: 24 Oct 2017

The group has safely arrived in Shanghai.

Day 2: 25 Oct 2017

Today, we visited Suzhou Industrial Park No. 2 Senior High School for the first time. The school was massive, something like 3 IJs combined in a single compound. The students were really friendly and nice towards us. They also helped us carry our bags to the classroom, which I felt was really thoughtful of them. In addition, although the school was a co-ed school, our buddies were girls. 

A main difference between their school and ours was that the students did not wear uniforms and they stayed in dormitories/hostels in the school. 

I am looking forward to experiencing and learning about the different cultures in the two schools. 

In the afternoon, we visited Tongli Water Village. At first, I was afraid as the town looked old and broken down, with construction going i everywhere, just like a shanty town. However, after walking around, I was amazed at how the residents lived a simple life and were contented. The sounds of the happy residents also brought back a lot of memories and reminded me of home. I learnt that it is important to treat historical places with respect and to not judge a placed based on how it looks on the outside, but through the little details that matter more. 
- Janelle Pang (Sec 2/5)

Today we went to Suzhou Industrial Park no 2 Senior High School. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Mr Chew who gave us a tour around the school. During the school tour, one noticeable difference was that the school had a building dedicated to the teaching of science. 

Even though the school has a short history of 60 years, they have a museum which showcases the various major events which took place over the years. That made me feel guilty as IJ has a long history of 163 years but i do not fully know the history of IJ. 

As we entered the classroom, we were greeted by friendly classmates who welcomed us with a loud applause. That made me feel at home as i was assured by their kind gestures, such as getting me a seat. After their class contact time, we went down to the field for physical education (PE) where we jogged and played some simple ball games. During the games, i noticed that the students would cheer for their teammates which is something that i hope to learn from as i seldom cheer for my classmates during PE lessons. 

During lunch, I learned that the students stayed in the hostel during the weekdays and only went home during the weekends and that food is delivered to the final year students as they do not have time for meals. That made me realise that i should be grateful for Singapore’s education system. 

After school, we went to Tong Li, a historical tourist attraction in suzhou where I learnt many values which i can apply in my daily life, e.g. to not waste time. All in all, I am grateful for this opportunity as I got to experience school life in Suzhou, which was eye opening.

- Tee Wei Ping (Sec 3/10)

Day 3: 26 Oct 2017

Today, i learnt that the Chinese word for "nucleus" and I also more about genetical engineering. I also learnt how to construct a model pagoda that is important in China's history. Lastly, i learnt how to properly have a debate in Chinese.

I feel that one thing that I would like to apply back in Singapore is that we should participate actively in class so that the class will be more progressive and I also learnt that others may interpret things differently from how I interpret things.

One major takeaway from this school visit is that we should be grateful that our education system in Singapore is not as stressful as the education system in China because they have much more stress compared to us. One major takeaway from the cultural visit is that the architecture of each building in the garden holds a very deep meaning . (Such as the reason behind the structure of the bridges in the garden)
- Foo Jen Yinn (Sec 3/1)

Over the past few days and even today, I have noticed quite a number of things, some of which may not be practised by  students in Singapore. 

As I sat in for their lessons, I could see that the students really took interest in their work and paid close attention to whatever the teacher was saying. I also learnt that life is not easy for the students here in China. They even have to do Math test papers everyday! 

Another thing that I noticed is that the students from China don't hesitate when they are called upon to answer a question. Some even voluntarily raise their hands to answer. They then answer with much confidence and enthusiasm. I feel that the way they act when being called upon by the teachers is vastly different from the students in Singapore where the students remain quiet when teachers pose questions and try their best to be unnoticeable to the teacher. 

After today’s lessons, we went to a cultural place called 'Humble Administrator’s Garden' which held rich history and culture, captivating everyone with its beauty too! As we walked along, I admired and appreciated the architecture of the buildings and the meaning/story behind the various architectural features. Some of the architecture features actually had meaning and stories behind its structure, which made me more interested in Chinese history. 

In a nutshell, I learned that the people in China really care and want to know more about their history. Reflecting back, I can conclude that the students in Singapore have a less stressful and hectic education/schedule compared to the students in China.
- Gwen Wong  (Sec 2/5)

During this trip, I learnt how to better understand Chinese, learning words I have never heard of before, for example, 细胞该 which means nucleus which I learnt during the biology lesson and 镁 which is magnesium in chemistry. I also learnt how to build a model pagoda. During psychology we learnt about the the different meanings behind colours.

During the teacher contact time, the local students held a debate on the motion of whether snacks should be allowed to be eaten in class. During the debate, the opposition went slightly off topic where they talked about how snacks were unhealthy. So overall when the debate ended the teacher touched on the the part of going off topic and related it back to how in life we should always stay on track and not go off course. Another thing I learnt was also during the debate, and that is always to look at a topic from 2 points of view or more. Don’t just look at it from one perspective. We have to be willing to accommodate other people’s opinions.

I am curious to know if their timetable was always like that with art, music and PE.

Interpersonally, they always support one another and participate actively during lessons. When one of their friends don’t know the answer or answer incorrectly, they all quietly whisper the answer and clap to support their classmate, instead of laughing at their classmates, which i must say I’m guilty of myself. The learning culture is really quite different from Singapore. 
- Bernadette Williams (Sec 2/3)

Day 4: 27 Oct 2017

From today's experience, I have learnt more in depth about the different representation of colours on the masks in Beijing Opera. For example, white represents evil and purple represents masculinity I have also learnt about the different myths and legends of the historical places we visited today.

One thing I would like to apply back in Singapore is that we should not be afraid to participate in class. The students in China are always full of enthusiasm and would willingly speak up to answer the teacher's question. There is a huge contrast between them and the students in Singapore, where we will avoid the teachers' questions at all cost. I feel that participating in class is important because it is an opportunity to clear up any misconceptions and clarify doubts. Therefore, it will be great if we could learn from them. 

After attending today's Chinese lesson, one major takeaway is that we should never be overprotective and take the safe route out as this may lead to undesirable consequences. The story was about how the entire population of wolves, deers and grass being completely wiped out in the end, due to the hunters killing the wolves to protect the deers. This shows that we should always let nature take its course and not do extra things to protect ourselves as this may put us into an even more dangerous situation

- Ashley Ng (Sec 3/3)

For the past three days in the school, I learnt how to build a model of a pagoda by putting all the small pieces together. Although the pieces were small, it was still quite fun as I managed to complete the first level of the structure. I also learnt more about Chinese opera during our music lesson and we also sang along with the local students. The more exciting part of that lesson was the debate, where we were split into 2 teams and our team was the opposing team and our motion was whether Beijing Opera should be modernised such that it will gain more popularity. The students there are very participative and attentive during lessons and I think that we should be more open and not be scared to give our answers or opinions as we would learn much more if we dare to try new things.

During the Geography lesson, I learnt about the land-sea breeze which we have already learnt in school and I hope that I can apply this back in Singapore. 
The students there are very supportive during class discussions and I hope that we can bring this positivity back to our school so that everyone can have a better learning environment. 

The temple we went to was called 'Hanshan Temple'. It had a lot of beautiful sceneries and had different gods with different meanings and stories behind it.

- Jazlyn Low (Sec 3/10)

Firstly, I learnt how to appreciate life in Singapore better, realising that we are not that miserable or unfortunate. Secondly, I learnt more about schools in China and the students. They are very hardworking and passionate about their studies.Thirdly, I learnt that the food sold in our school is actually very good and that we should not take it for granted.

The major takeaway for today was that we should appreciate what we have and not take things  for granted. We should be open-minded and treasure what we have because it may be something that is precious to other people while we think that it's bad.

There are different perspective for each situation. Something may look like it's bad but in reality,  in the long run, it may be of good use/need to you. I learnt that we should also appreciate tradition, be it music or politics, because everything in the past is part of who we are, it is what makes Singapore us now.Thus, we should preserve what we can and be knowledgeable about it.

- Kylie Ng (Sec 2/3)

Day 5: 28 Oct 2017

I enjoyed the ride on the bullet train from Suzhou to Hangzhou because I got to see more scenery and it was my first time experiencing it. 

I also enjoyed going to the dragon well tea plantation because I learnt that the dragon well is part of ancient Chinese architecture/folklore. I thought that the dragon well tea plantation would be boring at first. However, after the experience at the plantation and listening to the staff explaining how they obtain and process the tea leaves and the benefits of drinking the tea, I found it rather interesting. 

Lastly I also enjoyed the Songcheng show about the romance of the Song Dynasty because it exhibited the rich history of China and I also enjoyed their skilful dance movements that awed everybody. I originally thought that it would be just only a movie. Instead, it was a theatre performance which included various skills, acrobatics and also showcased the advanced technology in China. All in all, the show was rather interesting.

Over the last few days, I have learnt that people in China are very proud of their history and they love their history. It is because of this that they created a show to show their history to people from all over the world. To perform this one hour show is definitely not an easy task, because to have the show run smoothly , the performers will need to spend a lot of time practicing. They also have to build the special stage that would have cost a lot of money. Hence, the creation of this show really displays how the Chinese people view and appreciates their history.

- Tan Qiu Yue (Sec 2/5)

Today, I enjoyed shopping along Hefang Street which sells a large variety of items, from food such as ice-cream, to souvenirs such as postcards. I also enjoyed the bullet train ride from Suzhou to Hangzhou which took about 1.5h as it was very relaxing and scenic. Lastly, I really enjoyed "The Romantic Show of Songcheng" which was about the Song Dynasty as the effects used in the show were very spectacular and I was amazed by the props used. 

When we first got off the bullet train in Hangzhou, my first impression was that Hangzhou was very crowded and a lot busier than Suzhou. It was proven accurate as the places we visited were all packed with people and we had to squeeze through the crowd to avoid getting lost. 

1 major takeaway for me today is the realisation that China is quite technologically advanced as seen from "The Romantic Show of Songcheng" which has a high production cost as there were laser lights, 5 horses and water falling from the ceiling onto the stage itself. Thus, I learnt that China is actually more technologically advanced than I thought. 

- Natalie Chang (Sec 3/1)

Day 6: 29 Oct 2017

I have learnt about the cultural and technological advancement of China.

I witnessed the cleanliness at Xi Xi National Park, where there was hardly any litter on the floor. On the other hand, in the parks in Singapore, litter can be found everywhere.

Over the last 6 days, I have learnt many things about the Chinese culture and customs. For example, the roofs of buildings are slanted inwards towards the house such that rainwater can be collected. In the past, the Chinese believed that rainwater symbolises money, so by collecting rainwater, they are collecting money and preventing it from leaking out of the house.

One major takeaway is that we should support our friends and put ourselves in their shoes so that we can empathise with how they are feeling. Different people have different fears, so we have to know how they are feeling in order to help them.

Ong Su Mae (Sec 3/4)