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Internationalization 2014 - Xi'an
From 1 Mar to 8 Mar, 38 students, together with 4 teachers, went to Xi’an for our overseas internationalisation programme. Throughout the eight days, we were captivated by the historical relics found in the ancient city and the spirit which the primary school kids exhibited during our three-day interaction with them.
Our itinerary started with a visit to the Ancient City Wall which is one of the largest defensive systems in the world. It was built during the Tang dynasty and most of the architecture and cultures of the ancient city are still well preserved today. On the Ancient City Wall, we learned about some features of the wall which were used by the military in their defence and attack missions during the turbulent times of the past. Another highlight of the day was our visit to the Great Mosque of Xi’an which is still used by the Chinese Muslims today as a place of worship. We were mesmerised by the architectural design of the mosque as it carried a strong aura which combines the cultures of the Arabs and the Hui people. We were told by our tour guide, Alan, that the dragons found within the mosque were possibly gifts from a King as dragons were only used by the kings in the past. The mosque is probably the only one in the world that has neither domes nor traditional-style minarets.
On the third day, we proceeded to the primary schools which were more 100 minutes journey from the city. Due to the small enrolment of the village schools, three groups (including myself) were assigned to Li Jia Ping Primary School while the remaining five groups were assigned to Han Jia Ping Primary School. Both schools were situated beyond 1200 m above sea level and the day temperatures range from freezing −10oC to −3oC. At Li Jia Ping Primary School, we introduced ourselves and each of us paired up with one or two children in the class. We interacted with them to know more about their daily lifestyles and how they cope with their everyday life. We were surprised and at the same time impressed by the fact that some children walk more than one hour from their home to school everyday. It was truly amazing that the children were able to sustain their passion and interest in learning and insatiable thirst in acquiring knowledge in classrooms that have only the basic facilities.
For the next two days, we created a catalogue for a mini library which we had set up for the children to encourage them to cultivate good reading habits. We also conducted English lessons by teaching the children the 26 letters in the English alphabets. Through a series of fun-filled activities and games, we were able to engage the children in learning the letters and picking up some basic terms in the English language.
During the eight days, we visited the Muslim Quarter which was located in the centre of Xi’an city to experience the cultures and customs of that street and at the same time indulge in some shopping experience. We also went to the Xi’An Museum by walking through the Small Goose Pagoda. Over there, we learnt the historical facts of Xi’an and admired the different artefacts from the various dynasties. The main initnery of the trip was our visit to the famous Terracotta Museum where we witnessed the meticulously crafted historical relics. The place is located in a village and the warriors were discovered by a farmer when he was trying to dig for wells in search for water. While waiting for our tickets to be purchased, we went to a shop which sold books on Xi’an and good quality porcelain-made Terracotta warriors. Some of us even took a picture with the founder as well as obtained his autograph. Through the three pits that we visited subsequently in the Terracotta Museum, we gained greater insights on the historical aspects of the Terracotta warriors and how they had played significant roles in the Qin dynasty.
Our overseas experience at Xi’an was a meaningful and fruitful one as it gave us opportunities to interact with children and render our service to the schools. We were also gratified to realise that Singapore students are indeed fortunate to study in spacious classrooms with modern state-of-art facilities. Although several of us fell sick during the journey, we are positive that the trip has broadened our horizons and instilled greater global awareness in us. We definitely look forward to more service learning trips in future.
By Adeline Chau (2G1)