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On April of this year 11 students and two staff departed Adelaide on the Chinese Cultural Tour. This year, the group visited five cities: Beijing, Xi’an, Kunming, Lijiang and Shanghai. The first four cities were mainly sightseeing, but in Shanghai, students visited our sister school Shixi High School and were hosted by their Shixi billets.

Students saw many great modern and historical sights and toured many urban areas to experience the structure and life of China. The highlights of the trip included such wonders as the Forbidden City, the 600-year old Palace and government centre of China, spanning many dynasties. The Great Wall of China, the ancient megastructure spanning the entire country, full of ruins, grand hillside views and plenty of stairs angled at 60 degrees. The Terracotta Warriors, the hand-crafted clay army of Qin Shi Huang. Consisting of three excavation sites, it holds thousands of troops and cavalry. The Stone Forest; a naturally occurring wonder of nature full of towering pillars of rock, all formed over millions of years. The entire forest is full of tiny ecosystems, creeks and rivers between the stone pillars. The Jade Dragon Mountain; a towering 6,500m snow-capped mountain located in Lijiang, surrounded by a gorgeous hillside covered in forests, rivers and other impassable terrain. Of course, sightseeing wasn’t the only thing planned, as students did plenty of touring in city centres, shopping malls and local markets. Two highlights were the Silk Market in Beijing and the Hui Market in Xi’an, where they bought more than enough Gucci belts and sunglasses and practised their bargaining and Chinese language skills. They also tried famous local delicacies in every city, such as Beijing Duck in Beijing, BiangBiang Noodle and dumpling banquet in Xi’an, Guo Qiao Rice Noodle and Mushroom Hot Pot in Yunnan.

Culturally, students watched three shows including: The Acrobatic, the Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show and the Impression of Lijiang Ethnic. Watching Lijiang was a unique experience. The show was in the outdoors theatre with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as the backdrop, and was directed by world-famous director Zhang Yimou and was performed by more than 500 local farmers from many different ethnic backgrounds.

After 10 days touring, the final stop was Shanghai. Throughout the five-day visit, students lived with their generous host families and were given the privilege of having an authentic experience of living in another country. On most days, students had activities at the school, including art classes, a music class, PE lessons, technology experiences, school campus tour, and a soccer match against the Shixi first team. Students experienced a very different lifestyle from Australia like living in apartments and travelling via the metro. They also found that the schooling itself wasn’t as different to Australia as they had imagined. They thought it would be excessively strict, difficult, and somewhat totalitarian, but the relaxed vibe gave our students an opportunity to follow along with most of it. Students were amazed that many Shixi students can leave the school grounds to eat their lunch at the restaurants nearby to the school. More broadly, they felt that the students in Shanghai are a lot more independent than they are, as Shixi students travelled by themselves everywhere in public transport and rely on their parents  less. The Shixi visit was definitely one of the highlights and for most of our students, it was an eye-opening experience which gave them a glimpse into a different world.

All in all, it was a great and very successful trip. Friendships were formed between our students, with Shixi High School and  our local tour guides. Students gained confidence in speaking the Chinese language, especially when bargaining and gained a greater understanding of Chinese arts, culture and history.

Thank you to Nicholas Cavill (Year 10) and Jack Maitland (Year 10) for contributing their thoughts to this report, and to Mr Chris Smyth for accompanying and giving great support to the tour.

Fangfang Qiu
Coordinator of Chinese