A-level Business, Economics and Geography students enjoyed a culturally fascinating trip to China as part of their studies on trade, globalisation, urbanisation and superpowers.
The travelling party were treated to amazing views over the snow-capped mountains of Mongolia and northern China as they arrived in the country, via a stop in Frankfurt.
Their first stop after touching down in Beijing was for a spot of lunch which involved some unfamiliar cuisine before checking into the hostel and walking around an ancient hutong shopping area. Hutong areas are narrow alleyways of traditional Chinese houses and shops, customarily built using grey brick as the Emperor had ‘ownership’ of the other brighter colours, such as gold, for his palaces and important ceremonial buildings.
On their first full day, the group travelled to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, both are ancient landmarks built during the Ming dynasty.
In the afternoon, they visited the site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics for a tour of the impressive Bird’s Nest stadium and its rooftop which had lovely views of Beijing’s cityscape.
From there the group went to downtown Beijing to attend two lectures on ‘Doing Business in China.’ Pupils were especially interested to hear about the work of some NGOs (non-governmental organisations) on monitoring and addressing issues of desertification in rural China.
The next day was the much anticipated trip to the Great Wall. The party walked a quiet section of the wall, enjoying the breath-taking scenery and the autumn colours of the mountains.
In the evening, they had the pleasure of attending the incredible Red Theatre’s Kungfu Show to watch highly-trained adult and child artists tell the ancient story of their sport through a range of impressive routines.
On their final day in Beijing, students enjoyed visiting the ancient Temple of Heaven complex, before experiencing a Chinese tea ceremony in a government-run traditional tea house. Five different traditional Chinese teas were sampled and they were taught about the importance of how the tea is served, sipped and enjoyed.
That evening the group boarded an overnight train to Shanghai. It was the largest and busiest train station many of them had ever seen. After a night on the tracks, they woke up in the noticeably warmer southerly coastal city.
After checking into their hostel, they enjoyed a trip to the Canature water filtration company which was set up by a Chinese business person in response to the lack of clean drinking water in some parts of his country.
The party then went to the Chamber of Commerce in downtown Shanghai and enjoyed a fascinating lecture by Stan Vullings, a native Dutchman who has made his home in China for the last decade. He talked about living as a westerner in Chinese society, Chinese youth culture and the geopolitics of China – a rising economic giant and super-power.
On the final day in Shanghai the travelling group visited an impressive grammar school called Pudong Foreign Affair Service School. They were invited to join in with English and Music lessons with the Chinese pupils. Students exchanged gifts, enjoyed a dance performance from them and then were asked to put on a performance of their own. Looking to show them something to typify being British, students chose to sing the hymn Jerusalem to them.
The final afternoon in Shanghai saw them take a trip up the 100 floors of one of Shanghai’s tallest skyscrapers in the Manhattan-esqe financial district, where the glass floor was quite a psychological challenge to walk over.
The group also visited a Chinese market where they used their bartering skills to buy a list of challenge items set by Head of Business and Economics, Miss Leanne Curl. Awards were given to the most successful ‘apprentice’ team. The final activity on this immersive trip was a cruise along the HuangPu River.
Sixth Form student Amy Gardner said: “The culture was so different to anything I’d ever seen before and we got the opportunity to experience so much of it.
“My favourite part of the trip was the Shanghai Cruise at the end because it was amazing to see the city lit up at night. The lectures we attended were really informative and have definitely supported my Geography studies. It was also interesting to meet a Chinese school and take part in their lessons.”
Miss Curl concluded: “The school’s first cross curricular Business, Economics and Geography trip to China was a huge success. Highlights include hiking a very picturesque section of the Great Wall of China in the Badaling province, and taking an evening cruise through the stunning financial district in Shanghai.
“The business visits and lectures were fantastic. They provided pupils with a great insight into the way in which businesses and the economy operates in such an interesting country. They were also able to gain a lot of real life examples which they can use in their summer exams.”
Thanks to Geography teacher Mrs Gita Miles for her report on the trip.