During the early hours of the first Sunday of the October Half Term, 17 very excited Year 10 and 11 Mandarin students accompanied by Mrs Jolly and Miss Incerti headed off to China where they spent 8 amazing days in Beijing and Shanghai.
Report: Mrs Jolly
Despite the long journey, the group arrived full of energy and ready to start their Far East adventure. We were taken on a tour of the bustling streets of the Hutong District with traditional courtyard residences. These are fast disappearing in some parts of Beijing in order to make way for the city’s modern developments. With a traditional rickshaw ride to finish which students thoroughly enjoyed. The next day we were all refreshed and ready for all that Beijing has to offer. To name just a few things: A visit to the Temple of Heaven to see the wonderful imperial architecture and join in the activities of Chinese park life, a Chinese tea ceremony in a tea house, visit to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City then a climb up Jingshan Park to view the city.
A little further afield we travelled the Great Wall at Mutianyu, which dates back to the mid-6th century. The pupils were amazed at how hilly this section is and walking up and down the vertiginous steps proved to be fun yet challenging, although the ‘not fast enough’ toboggan down from the Great Wall was an experience! On the way to our evening entertainment of a stunning acrobatic show we stopped at the Olympic Park so our students could admire the Birds Nest Stadium and Water Cube.
Our last morning in Beijing was probably the highlight for our pupils as we visited a Chinese school and both our students and the Chinese students were able to practice their language skills and discover what life is like in a different culture. We also formed Westholme’s first (and last?) basketball team which brought out the Westholme’s competitive spirit in our students. After saying our goodbyes and getting our students’ hands back from their new Chinese friends, we travelled to the railway station for our high speed train journey to Shanghai.
After covering the 819 miles in 4.5 hours at 217 mph, we arrived in Shanghai ready for our beds.
Next day we were off to Yu Yuan Garden and Bazaar to pick up some gifts and sample Chinese delicacies. Then back to downtown Shanghai for a walking tour of People’s Square, Nanjing Road and the Bund ending the day with a ‘never want to get off’ night cruise of the Yangzi River and Shanghai Skyline. Our adventure continued with an all day trip to a Tongli water village also known as ‘the Venice of the East’. On our final day we visited one of the oldest Temple in Shanghai and students were able to form a better understanding of the Buddhist religion and its popularity in China. Then from the ancient to the modern with a visit to Shanghai’s financial district and a trip up the iconic Pearl Tower, which is one of the most impressive TV towers in the world. The trip then ended with an exciting shopping frenzy at Asia’s biggest shopping plaza where our students bargained hard and came away satisfied.
Overall, our students were able to embrace what this different country has to offer as we not only spent time visiting cultural and historic sites, but also seeing its future enabling them to be truly inspired to study and speak the language well. It has been a wonderful and truly enjoyable trip and Happy Birthday to two of our Y10 students who both turned 15 on the trip, what an experience! Many thanks to all the staff who supported this trip in various means and I already look forward to the next China trip in 2020!