Immersion and Cultural Learning Journey, Wushu, China
A group of 24 Year 1 to Year 4 students from Dunman High Wushu team, accompanied by 2 teachers, Mrs Grace Ong and Mr Yeo Meng Han, embarked on a learning journey to Henan from 10 to 17 November 2014. This trip served to enhance the learning experience of the students in appreciating and understanding the history, culture, education and economics of Henan Province, China. It allows the team to be immersed in a culture different from our own through visits to historical and cultural sites, corporate organisations and exchange programme at educational institutions which include the academic and martial arts schools.
The first 5 days of the immersion programme was spent in Zhengzhou and began at the Yellow River Scenic Spot. Diving into the rich China history, we were captivated by the majestic scenery of the Yellow River, which was said to be the starting point of the Chinese civilisation. We then visited our partner school, Zhengzhou No. 4 Middle School and had a meaningful cultural exchange, where we experienced the learning culture and education system in China. We were warmly welcomed by the Principal and teachers before spending a day and a half there, being enthused participants in the different classes and in the school tour. Friendships were forged as we interacted with the China students. The highlight of the trip was when we trained at the Henan Provincial Wushu Institute across 3 days. It was an enriching and meaningful opportunity to be able to train with the Henan Wushu top athletes. Despite being extremely skilful, the athletes are very humble, passionate and focused. This exchange has greatly helped us improve our skills and allowed us to gain new ideas for our Wushu Taolu. In the midst of our training schedule, we visited Swire Coca-Cola Beverages Zhengzhou Limited and had a better understanding on the history and how ‘Coke’ has developed into one of the world’s top brand. We so visited Erqi Square, which stood the Erqi Memorial Tower, built in 1971 as a memorial for the Erqi strike in 1923, before we bade farewell to Zhengzhou.
Upon reaching Luoyang, we visited the much anticipated Shaolin Temple. We learnt about the rich culture and history of the Temple, as well as of China. Our tour guide explained to us the stories of what happened at the temples, the principles that they upheld and we were enthralled by the beautiful scenery. After visiting the Shaolin Temple in the morning, we visited the Longmen Grottoes in the afternoon. We were awed by the tens of thousands of statues of Buddha and his disciples. The statues were carved during various dynasties, the earliest ones from the Northern Wei Dynasty.
The next day, we left for the last city of our trip, Kaifeng, and paid Lord Bao a visit at his Memorial Temple (Memorial Temple of Lord Bao). We learnt that Lord Bao did not exactly resemble the depiction in television programmes. In fact, he was very short, and had fair skin. And indeed, he did not have a crescent moon on his head. We then had a memorable time at the Millennium City Park, a historical and cultural theme park which recreates “Riverside Scene”, an outstanding and world-famous painting work by Zhang Zeduan (张择端), a well-known painter in the Northern Song Dynasty. On the last day, we went to Kaifeng Mansion. We learnt about the history of Kaifeng, how it was the capital city for the Northern Song Dynasty, and how the mansion and the area changed over the years.
Excerpts from student reflections:
“I feel that this trip to Henan has been quite fruitful. I have learnt to further appreciate the Chinese culture, learnt more about the history and how it has helped to shape modern-day China. In Zhengzhou No.4 Middle School, the students are very responsive and enthusiastic. They seem to be very eager to learn new things and display good learning attitude towards studying. The students pay very close attention in class and will respond to the teacher without fail most of the time.”
14Y2B Chen Wen Jing Chantelle
“Via the eclectic array of facets that this trip has touched on, primarily sightseeing attractions of Zhengzhou, experiencing studies in a reputable school, and training in a prominent training centre, I was able to gain much insight about China as well as myself. The climax of the journey was being able to train in Henan Provincial Wushu Institute. Being able to train with highly qualified individuals was a privilege that I would cherish. They never fail to provide assistance, correcting small details that I tend to overlook, while taking into consideration the routine as a whole. This has greatly motivated me to improve, as it has made me realise that through hard work and effort, it is possible to advance to greater heights, especially at a period where my training progress has reached a plateau. The students here have motivated me to improve myself and I strive to become as good as them.”
14Y4I Sim Ming De
“I learnt a lot more on the Chinese culture and history. Through visiting cultural landmarks such as the Yellow River, Longmen Grottoes, the Memorial Temple of Lord Bao and Millennium City Park, I discovered a lot more about the rich Chinese culture and history. For example, at the visit to Yellow river, we learnt about how the Chinese civilization started from the yellow river basin and how yellow river nourished millions of people. I was also amazed by the impressive stone carvings at the Longmen Grottoes. Most of the carvings were made mainly during the Northern Wei and Tang dynasty and are impressive examples of Chinese Buddhist Art. However, the site was subjected to significant vandalism at several points in its history. Major artifacts were removed by Western collectors and souvenir hunters and the heads of many statues were also destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, which made me learn to appreciate the Chinese art and culture and the importance of preserving and protecting such artifacts. At the visit to the Memorial Temple of Lord Bao, we learnt more about Lord Bao who was an exemplary official during the Northern Song Dynasty that fought courageously and unyielding against corrupt officials and protected ordinary people from being exploited. At the Millennium City Park, there are many good shows inside all through the day, such as cock fighting and we learnt a lot about the ancient Chinese culture there.”
14Y4K Tan Si Yu
“Overall, this trip was an extremely enjoyable and enriching one for me. Not only did it give me an opportunity to strengthen my friendship with the team, it allowed me to hone my skills in Wushu, develop a global outlook, and immerse myself in a rich Chinese culture that definitely changes my opinion on them.”
14Y3C Sim Zheng Hao