Overseas Trips
6th June 2014

Guitar Ensemble Overseas Immersion, Taiwan

On the 6th of June this year, 19 students from the guitar ensemble, together with 2 teachers, Ms Sumithra and Mr Goh Pai Shen, and the Guitar Ensemble conductor, Mr Kevin Yeo, embarked on a learning journey to Taiwan. This trip was a golden opportunity for us to experience the everyday life of a Taiwanese student through local school immersion programmes.

During the trip, we visited many of Taiwan’s most famous landmarks; there was the visit to Taipei 101, a must-go for anyone visiting Taipei, a trip to the Shilin night market (士林夜市) as well as a visit to the Eslite bookstore (誠品書店), which was an eye-opener for many of us as the bookstore featured not only books but also many creations and hand-made products produced by local Taiwan artists, something which we don’t see here in Singapore. We also caught the changing of guard at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and witnessed the soldiers executing the drills in perfect synchrony, as well as their unorthodox marching style. Perhaps one of the highlights of our sightseeing journey was the visit to Ping Hsi Street (平溪老街), where 4 of us shared one lantern, on which we penned our well-wishes and hopes for the future, before releasing the lanterns into the sky. On the last day of trip, we visited the Taiwan Indigenous Television station, where we learnt of the extensive efforts that have to be put into screening a live broadcast, where even a minor oversight might cause a mishap live on air.

We had the opportunity to mingle with the local students during their visit to Cheng Yuan High School (臺北市立成淵高級中學). Other than being able to attend their art lesson, where the students were encouraged to be as creative as possible when creating their masterpieces using ordinary coloured tape, we were also warmly welcomed by the school’s Principal who shared with the us a brief history as well as the various achievements Cheng Yuan High School had obtained over their long and successful 117 years since founding. Perhaps one of their most famous alumni is Mr Lien Jih-ching, better known as the “Mosquito Man”. Mr Lien spent most of his life studying mosquitoes, and his work has given an immense boost to the worldwide efforts to eradicate malaria and dengue. Another highlight of the immersion was a performance put up by one of Cheng Yuan High School’s very own teacher, in which he sang songs ranging from John Denver’s “Country Roads” to Wahkin Chau’s popular single “朋友”, all while strumming his acoustic guitar in perfect harmony. His performance certainly helped to put a smile on everyone’s faces. Their hospitality really made us feel the comfort of our home back in Singapore.

During the immersion, we also had a performance exchange with the members of the Guitar Club of Cheng Yuan High School and Tamkung University (淡江大學). We played songs “Jounetsu Tairiku” (情熱大陸) and “A bouquet of flowers filled with love for you”. The performances were successful, but Cheng Yuan and Tamkung High School guitar clubs have even more surprising and engaging performances. Cheng Yuan High School Guitar members brought to us two Chinese songs and one of them is “稻香” by Jay Chou (周杰伦).Tamkung High School presented us with some songs that the club composed themselves, and we sang with the Tamkung Guitar Club members, bringing the guitar playing experience to a whole new level. They also had their own club song and we were very impressed!

Due to differences in culture, the guitar clubs of the two Taiwanese schools are conducted in a different way from our school’s guitar ensemble. Another stark difference we have from the Taiwanese guitar club members was that the latter enjoys themselves more than us; we are more focused on the product while the guitar club members of the two schools we interacted with focus more on the process, which makes their performances livelier and more exciting. Despite the marked differences, we managed to bridge up the differences between our school and Cheng Yuan and Tamkung guitar clubs by engaging in interaction between the guitar club students. The immersion programme have really made us learn a lot, from the hard skills like guitar playing to the soft skills like accepting differences and enjoying what you do.

Students’ Reflections

Although the trip, at five days, was a relatively short duration, we learned a lot and enjoyed ourselves very much. Not only we brought home fancy souvenirs, we also brought with us the invaluable learning experience and precious memories that is the main purpose of this trip. The trip has been an eye-opening experience for us and hopefully the ensemble will reach greater heights after we share our learning our experiences with our peers back home.

I think that the Taiwan trip is very enjoyable and I learnt new things.   I learnt about time management, punctuality, gratefulness and respect. Also, I think that we have to learn to accept differences. During the guitar exchange, we found that Taiwan schools conduct their guitar club differently from us. I think that we had some difficulties when bridging the gaps between the Taiwanese guitar club and ours, but it was solved afterwards. Knowledge is power, but experience and learning is boundless.
14Y5C35 Ng Zhen Hao

From the Taiwan trip, I feel that I have learnt and been through many memorable experiences that have taught me various things, from understanding music better, to handling issues pertaining to everyday life.  Also, this trip has also served as a platform for us to forge stronger bonds. At the high school in Taiwan, one thing that struck me was the students’ responsiveness towards the teacher, and their willingness to step up and participate actively in the lesson. Furthermore, the use of art to further their creativity by using school property has struck a chord with me, seeing that the same thing is also happening in Dunman High, fostering the school spirit. The warmth and friendliness from the students will be feelings that I will hold dear for a very long time, and I hope that with all the new experiences as well as lessons learnt, I will continue to strive to do my utmost best, for the school and for my own personal self.
14Y5C11 Thong Yi Ling 

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