Thursday 10 April 2014

A World of Experiences

All Year 9 students have now returned from their International trips to Indonesia, Cambodia, India, Thailand and China. A river cruise kicked off the Thailand trip along the huge Chao Phraya River, an ideal setting for the students to immerse themselves in the Thai culture. Highlights of the Thailand trip included The Grand Palace in Bangkok, many beautiful temples, giving alms to monks, playing with local school children and visiting the majestic ruins of the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Students also forged bartering and language skills at the Night Bazaars and Walking Street Market where many bargains were to be had.

The trip to India began with touch down in Indore where the team met their endearing host Dr Vijay Rajopadhyay, a coordinator from Daly College where the students boarded and participated in a cultural heritage course. Students learnt how to throw ceramic pots on a wheel and were introduced to the Gujarati folk dance which they later performed on stage wearing traditional ceremonial clothing. Other cultural activities included morning yoga, history lessons, painting and cooking sessions and participation in Holi, the Festival of Colours. Students also travelled to Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. Highlights included visiting the Taj Mahal, the old City Palace, the Lotus Temple, Amber Fort, Lal Baag Palace, historical ruins and temples such as Qutb Minar and Raj Ghat, the resting place of Mahatma Ghandi’s ashes.

All you can eat buffets for breakfast ensured the students on the Balinese trip were well fed for their travels with their host Yos. Students visited rice fields, where they learnt how to harvest rice and the Uluwatu Temple along the coastline where cheeky monkeys ruled. Bartering was attempted at Ubud where great purchases of various handmade wood carvings were made, followed by a well-deserved swim at Padang Padang beach. Students enjoyed getting their hair braided, cliff jumping and learning to cook organic chocolate sauce from cocoa trees. They also participated in yoga, learnt how to make organic compost and planted some Russian kale for a local school.

Students who travelled to China engaged in activities with the Bi Le Middle School. Morning exercises with the Bi Le students became a daily ritual, and students were taught a traditional dance and were given language and calligraphy lessons. Students visited a floating city, the Yu Garden and participated in a mini Amazing Race around Shanghai in teams which allowed them to see a lot more of the city. The Muslim Quarter was an interesting cultural experience, with amazing smells, winding lanes and streets full of stalls and shops. Students also interacted with kids from the XingXing School for street kids. The highlight of the trip was in Beijing where students visited the Terracotta Warriors, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.

With a focus on global awareness and sustainability, students gained a better understanding of the world around them and how they can contribute whilst on these trips. Immersion in foreign cultures has no doubt challenged and inspired them.