It is hard to believe that only last Sunday our initial team of Alpine staff changed over and we had the second team arrive in the morning. Since then, we have continued to be busy and that morning the students finished painting their designs onto the doors at the local primary school. The Principal and all local families of students were extremely happy with the end result. The brightly coloured doors helped provide a facelift to the school.
In the afternoon students got to experience a traditional Chinese Lion Dance, which was loud and entertaining. Some students even got to have a turn at playing the drums and getting inside the Lion and having a go at bringing it to life. It was a great way to send off the departing staff members.
That evening a talent show was held and some of the finest talent we have seen amongst Alpine School students was put on show. Guitars, keyboard, duet and solo singing, even a magic card trick was shared. Another positive night.
On Monday, our students spent the day as tourists in Dongguan city. Being only an hour away by transport, it has 8.2million people living there. We visited two museums which highlighted the Opium wars that China faced when the British came to China to try and sell Opium. We also had a walk through a Fort on the foreshore that was underneath the Humen Bridge. This bridge is quite an amazing structure that spans some 5 km.
The day finished with a trip into a shopping mall (Dynacity) to highlight what globalization is doing to China. It was a very Western style Mall with most shops being very familiar brands that you would find anywhere around the western world. The students enjoyed spending some money on food and souvenirs. The supermarket was the biggest hit.
Tuesday saw us visit yet another city. Old and new. Rich, poor and middle class, today provided students a snapshot into the fascinating and multi-faceted aspects of modern China. We started the day with a bus trip to the centre of Guangzhou city to visit the Canton Tower. Travelling through a city of 30 plus million people is an eye opening experience before the day’s activities begin, with many opportunities to observe the comings and goings of daily life in a big city. Canton Tower is the second tallest building in the world, and from the viewing platform at 480 meters above ground level, it gave students a better understanding of the size and scope of China’s third largest city. Following this experience the students then made a discovery walk in small groups through a traditional medicine market in a different area of the city. Dried snake, scorpion, cockroach, deer antler and turtles where just a few of the interesting goods you could buy. We then walked on foot to a pedestrian shopping precinct, where our group was photographed many times by curious locals. This experience gave us an insight to the growing middle class of China and provided a unique opportunity for students to further develop their intercultural awareness.
On Wednesday, our students had some time to work on their projects then prepare and practise for their second English teaching experience. They went to a middle school in Zengcheng and taught up to 50 students in pairs. They were teaching English to Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 level students. Once again, they all did an amazing job. The Zengcheng students they taught were really engaged and then at the end of their lesson treated us all like ‘celebrities’ or ‘rock stars’. Our students were hounded for their autographs at the end of the session and it was hard to get all the students back on the bus to head back to Utahloy.
Thursday saw us return to the local Primary school for the last time to complete the community service project of painting the school’s concrete walls. Our students did a fantastic job and enjoyed the opportunity to leave a legacy of doing a service for others. They were very productive and painted a long section of the back wall. It must have been at least 40 metres in length. Again their Principal, staff and parents were appreciative. The afternoon was filled with project work and the evening with a session on globalisation and its impact.
Today we visited the Hitachi factory plant to see the technology behind and witness the assembly of elevators and escalators. The factory was very clean with huge internal cranes responsible for moving large structures for assembling. This was again another eye opening experience as this particular Hitachi factory plant employed over 2000 Chinese people!
Tomorrow morning we are heading off at 6.00am to travel to Yangshou located in the neighbouring province to Guangdong. We return on Thursday evening (Nov 27th) before two final very busy days here at the Utahloy International School. Thus far it has been an amazingly enriching experience for all and our students have continued to rise to all of the challenges faced, experienced and been set to do. They have become a supportive group and I expect them to continue building positively this coming week as we head to Yangshou.
Russell Shem – Campus Principal