In the middle weekend of the holidays six students from Shirley BHS and six from Marian College headed to Nanjing to be part of the Five School’s Cultural Exchange' which we have been part of since 1997. The other schools involved are all sister schools of Toho HS in Nagoya – Nanjing Foreign Language School and Salesian College, Melbourne.
The six students (Matthew Croft, Ryan Teape, Keeley Legge, Glen Beardsley, Corbin Newlands and Elijah Austen) spent some time before the Exchange learning a basic self-introduction in Chinese with the help of Mr Yeh and Matthew Croft. Accompanying the students was Miss Sue Nesbit and Mr Chris Needle. During the two-week Exchange, the group participated in a number of cultural activities and also had to present their research on the “Preservation of Folk Arts”. The topic presented some interesting challenges initially but once they had settled on their research topic, through a combination of power-point and videos, they completed a thorough presentation entitled: Te Reo Māori language and its connection to Culture and Arts. This led into the need of the language to preserve our haka, tattooing and carving.
Activities were varied – both physical and artistic with dragon-boating proving very popular. The students also learnt the art of paper-cutting and made a lotus-flower lantern. An overnight trip to Suzhou (silk-making region of China close to Shanghai) and the beautiful Zhouzhuang Water Village (known as the Venice of the Orient). This town is a World Heritage Site with its many canals, shops and boats transferring goods and passengers.
All students were homestayed and formed bonds with their Chinese families culminating in an evening with host families sharing food and our culture. The haka proved very popular with the families although we did see some more informal talent on show at the end of the evening.
Some comments from the students:
“The most valuable thing I have learnt is an appreciation of the Chinese work ethic. The determination of the students at Nanjing Foreign Language School is an inspiring example of what can be achieved in academics and other areas with consistent effort.”
“The most important to thing to remember when you are on a trip is to truly try everything you are able to. One never wants to come home with regrets from not doing/trying something.”
“Before this trip, I knew that China had the largest population in the world. However the housing systems are incredible. The fact that each apartment building can have 30 floors and 12 of these in one community is a feat of engineering and building for sure. The apartments are still spacious and comfortable to live in although there is a lack of ground space. The sky here is the limit."
“I am more confident in my speaking. I am more open to new things because of all the experiences I have had, the things I have taken part in and the things I have eaten”.
“My impression of the Chinese people has changed because of their kindness, friendliness and hospitality. I learnt the stereotypical image of the Chinese is wrong.”
“I now understand more about people from different countries and more about their cultures. I understand that we are not just citizens of our own countries but we are citizens of the world.”