17 Jul, 2018
10 : 00
As a busy School Principal in such a fast-paced school environment with a great deal of administration, teacher observation and appraisal, curriculum development and directing of new initiatives to consider, it can be hard to find the time to really get to know every one of our students at an individual level, so as part of Grade 5’s preparation for transition to Grade 6, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to spend quality time with many of them on the Chinese Cultural Trip to Huangshan recently.
What helped me to get to know each student better was the wide variety of activities and interactions we enjoyed together, from making and sharing fantastic local Huizhou cuisine, picking tea, processing it and learning the art of making tea, to immersing ourselves in the history and culture of Anhui by visiting Memorial Arches and the Huizhou Culture Museum.
Our early morning starts and the good habits and routines of the students were blessed by being able to visit the beautiful village of Hongcun before most of the tourists had arrived, and during our visit to Huangshan when, after suffering all morning from the rain and mist, the sun came out in the afternoon to present the most beautiful views out over the mountains and breath-taking Chinese scenery, along with visits from birds, squirrels and monkeys!
The students were very lucky to have an expert guide in Michael as well as the highly experienced tour leadership and cultural understanding of Ms. Lulu and Ms. Sunny. I also had an opportunity to share some of my thoughts with them about respecting the power and beauty of nature in our modern technologically advanced world, and as a History teacher, helping the students to understand that valuing one’s heritage and culture does not necessarily mean accepting all the practices of the past, but acknowledging how those who went before have shaped the modern China of today and our place in it.
I will take many happy memories of the trip away with me, but with one abiding image from the ecological tea plantation when all the students gathered around an elderly worker who showed them how to dry and process tea with such passion and long experience. The students were absolutely silent as they listened intently and watched an expert at work. I was deeply proud of the respect and interest that they showed in learning from experience and from listening to elders about some of the many wonders of Chinese culture.