Penang Cultural Immersion Trip 2017
On 10 March 2017, a group of 84 Chinese Orchestra members, their ages ranging from Year 2s to Year 6s, embarked on a 5 days 4 nights cultural immersion programme to the beautiful Malaysian state of Penang.
Key highlights of the programme included the school visits to two local Chinese-medium schools, Jit Sin High School and Jit Sin Independent High School. Students from Penang were very excited to receive the visiting Dunmanians and gave them a big warm welcome, despite having to come back to school on a Saturday. Other than presenting the hosts with a few ensemble and solo performances, our Dunmanians also had the invaluable opportunity to interact with the local students who were Chinese Orchestra members themselves. The students exchanged interesting information on school life, Chinese Orchestra activities, and even their own personal interests outside school. The Penang students’ strong passion for Chinese music and intense self-motivation to improve, despite limited resources, left a deep impression on many Dunmanians and led them to reflect and better appreciate what they have back at home.
Another main highlight was the public concert held by the Dunman High Chinese Orchestra on 12 March 2017, at Dewan Sri Pinang, a well-known and popular venue for live performances in Penang. It also happened to be the same venue where the Dunman High Chinese Orchestra held its public concert when it first visited Penang some 20 years ago. The orchestra was very privileged to have Y.B. Chong Eng, the Penang State Legislative Assembly Exco for Youth Sports, Women, Family and Community Development, as the concert’s Guest of Honour, together with Mr Tony Low, Principal of Dunman High School. It was a valuable opportunity to perform overseas and the students were keen to serenade the Penang audience with their months’ of preparation and hard work. The concert ended successfully with the students receiving overwhelming support from the audience.
Apart from the school visits and concert performance, our Dunmanians also explored different attractions in Penang to learn more about its unique heritage and culture. Through visits to the Sun Yat-sen Museum and Kwong Wah Daily, students learnt more about Penang’s close association with Mr Sun Yat-sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China. Students also gained more insights to the lives of the people living in Penang back in the 1950s to 1970s during the heritage city tour and visit to Pinang Peranakan Museum. One such opportunity came when our Dunmanians managed to capture a glimpse of laidback kampong life in their visit to Balik Pulau, a small agricultural town located at the south-western part of Penang Island. The students were given the chance to try some hands-on activities in making their own ‘tau sar piah’ (豆沙饼), as well as in participating in an ‘Amazing Race’ style trail to explore the world-famous wall murals of Georgetown.
This immersion program has enabled students to understand and experience the cultural and historical aspects of Penang. It has also provided invaluable opportunities for students to learn to be resilient and responsible, as well as to reflect on their sense of rootedness to Singapore.
Here are some thoughts by some of the Dunmanians who went on the trip:
“The overseas learning journey to Penang was certainly an enriching one and I learned a lot more about the world outside of Singapore as well as myself. The heritage trails and visits to places such as Sun Yat Sen Museum, Kwong Wah Daily, Balik Pulau, Beach Street, Penang Hill and the Pinang Peranakan Museum allowed me to immerse myself and learn more about the cultural and historical aspects of Penang. I could tell that the Penang locals have so much pride in their local culture and heritage, many of the places we visited had over a hundred years of history, and the local authorities pay special attention into preserving the local environment, be it promoting Georgetown as a UNESCO World Heritage Site or tagging the relatively older trees in Penang for preservation.” – Jovan Chee, 17Y5C31
“I really think that this trip has been very enriching and an eye-opening experience for me, especially the school exchanges. I learnt from the local students that anything is possible when we put in the effort to learn. I was surprised to learn that the local students could play their instruments very well, despite limited guidance from their teachers due to the lack of resources. I could feel their strong passion for Chinese music as they enthusiastically shared with us the music they play and the activities they organise. This made me realise that if we have the passion to learn and desire to improve ourselves, then we should take ownership of our own learning.” – Rachel Tan Hui Hoong, 17Y5C41