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International schools in Singapore: Different overseas trips for kids

With so many amazing destinations on the doorstep, Singapore’s students get to experience school excursions that are about as far removed from Bart Simpson’s mind-numbing field trip to a box factory as one can get. We asked some of these students about their experiences of past trips and expectations for up-and-coming ones.

Christopher Huxley, Year 11
School trip to: NEPAL

The Australian International School’s Nepal Schools to Schools project is a programme which encompasses the true meaning of international community and the bond between youth across borders.

In the coming school holidays, 17 of my fellow AIS students and I, accompanied by handful of dedicated teachers, will travel to Nepal, where we will visit and provide service to five rural schools while trekking across Nepal’s Himalaya regions. This student initiative exemplifies what makes this such a great school – commitment, opportunity, achievement and respect.

The programme, which has been running at AIS now for six years, is the highlight of Year 11 for all those involved. It’s the culmination of nine months worth of early Saturday morning training sessions, fundraising and planning. Many will be pleased to know that money raised from the immensely successful Run4Nepal, Second-hand Book Stall, Lamington Drive, Sport-a-thon and numerous bake sales and barbecues throughout the year, will go to helping those who need it: the children of the developing world.

I can proudly say that it will be worth even the earliest of Saturday morning wake-ups for training to know that, as a team and a community, we have been able to effect change in the world.

Australian International School
1 Lorong Chuan


Alethea Abdullah, Year 5
School trip to: CHINA

Students from the Middle Years at Avondale Grammar School were very fortunate to experience an educational trip to Beijing, China, at the end of July. During this trip, we learnt about Chinese culture and practised our Mandarin as we explored different areas of Beijing. Some of the highlights included:

  • Shi Cha Hai Sports School, where Jet Li was a student. We learnt a kung fu routine from one of the country’s award-winning champions. After that, we headed to the theatre to watch a show where kung fu masters, acrobats, dancers and actors performed many mind-blowing tricks.
  • Wang Fu Jing Street, where we saw vendors selling wriggling scorpions on sticks, shark meat, snails, pigeons, cow intestines and many “edible” insects. Yuk!
  • The iconic Great Wall of China: some very fit teachers and students climbed a tiring 1,400 steps. Most of us managed all of the stairs, to be rewarded by a stunning view and a beautiful, cool breeze brushing our faces. This was a magnificent moment, one never to be forgotten.
  • Eating a variety of local cuisine, especially the dumplings that we helped make. They were fiddly to make but they tasted delicious.

Our Beijing trip was a great learning experience, and one that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Avondale Grammar School
304 & 318 Tanglin Road
Phoenix Park



Aedammair Dunleavy, Senior
School trip to: CAMBODIA

As a High School senior, I had the remarkable opportunity to participate in a community service excursion to Cambodia. During our trip, we involved ourselves in a multitude of activities. Whether it was house-building with the Tabitha Foundation, teaching English classes at the People Improvement Organization’s school or playing a soccer friendly with disadvantaged and homeless youths from the Happy Football Cambodia Australia (HFCA) organisation, we were a dedicated team that helped the people of Cambodia by giving as much of ourselves as we could.

As well as being service-driven, our excursion was educational – I personally learned a lot about Cambodian history, and the recent hardships that its people have faced. One very emotional day was spent at the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Visiting these venues made me realise that the lively spirit that the Cambodian people have today is a testament to their strength as a people.

The final two days of our trip were spent in Siem Reap, where we visited the Angkor National Museum and the incredible temples of Angkor Wat. From tuk-tuk rides to a traditional Cambodian cooking class, I can’t think of one thing about the trip that I didn’t enjoy. As classmates, it brought us closer together and I feel that we really made a difference in people’s lives.

Canadian International School
7 Jurong West Street 41 (Lakeside Campus)
371 Tanjong Katong Road (Tanjong Katong Campus)


Kieran Tallent & Fergus Davidson, Year 10
School trip to: INDIA

In March 2013, a group of students went to Jaipur, India to participate in some charitable activities for I-India, including painting the exterior and interior of one of I-India’s many schools and shelters. The experience changed our view of poverty in the world immensely; here are some opinions of the students who went:

“A trip to India was something I dreamed of, but to go there and help street children is a completely different experience. I was able to really interact with all of the children – they showed me a completely different side of life. One memorable experience was having a shower with some of the kids in Jhag Children’s Village – water was sprayed from a hose on top of a truck and everyone gathered underneath with their toothbrushes and bars of soap. The trip was absolutely phenomenal and beyond a doubt life-changing.”
– Cian Greenwood

“It was a very exciting experience for both the students and the teachers. I noticed two things: the severe poverty and living conditions, and the happiness of the children despite those conditions.”
– Ryotaro Iwai

“I was surprised by many things, especially the number of children living by the roadside. The experience was something no amount of data could make me imagine.’
– Yuki Shibata

“It was an unforgettable experience for everyone, and we ended up making many new friends and learning about the world around us.”
– James Everitt

Dover Court Preparatory School
301 Dover Road

Oliver Kennett
School trip to: PENANG

During our class’s annual camp to Penang, Malaysia, we stayed at cosy Baan Talay Homestay.

We went to Georgetown, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where our tour guide Teresa showed us Kapitan Keling Mosque and the Teochew temple, and took us on a trishaw ride to Fort Cornwallis and then to the State Museum. At the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, we were lucky to watch a ceremony. On our way back, we saw a colossal Sleeping Buddha.

On day three, we went to Uplands School where we made a Malaysian dessert at a cooking class. After that, the students performed for us. As a treat, our teachers took us to Adventure Zone, an indoor playground, and to Penang Butterfly Farm which was magical.

Another day we went to USM (Universiti Sains Malaysia). We made a spectrohelioscope which can create rainbows when filled with light. We also saw a planetarium and had a look around the museum, which contains a spaceship interior. We tried batik-making and I made a butterfly batik painting for my little sister.

Next day, we went to the Tropical Spice Garden and for me, a major food addict, it was great to see different spices growing. Our next destination was Penang National Park. It was quiet and mysterious; all we heard were bugs and birds. After exploring we went to the Penang Turtle Sanctuary. Our trip ended at Monkey Beach, where we played and ate a barbecue dinner.

What a great trip!

EtonHouse International School
51 Broadrick Road
6346 6922 | etonhouse.com.sg

Amy Van Stenus, Grade E-11b
School trip to: BALI, INDONESIA

In March, Grade 11 went on a school trip to Bali. Upon arrival in our hotel in Ubud, we were taken on an afternoon walk through the rice fields, which was extremely nice.

For the next two days, as part of our CAS project (a compulsory component of the IB diploma), we went to a big orphanage where we all contributed; some by teaching the children English, some by painting, gardening and cutting bamboo.

We spent the night camping in tents and enjoying the hot water springs. The next morning, we got up at 3am to hike up the volcano to see the sunrise. In the afternoon, we went white-water rafting.

Unfortunately, this was our last school trip, as we will be graduating from GESS next year. During this trip, we learned a lot about Bali’s culture and had the chance to bond with each other. We will never forget the fun memories we made there. After visiting the orphanage, we all learned how lucky we are, as the kids there don’t have parents and don’t have the best living conditions.

German European School Singapore
71 Bukit Tinggi Road (Main Campus)
300 Jalan Jurong Kechil (Junior School Campus)

Janine Parel, Grade 12
School trip to: THE PHILIPPINES

Last June, I visited the Layag-Layag community in the Philippines as part of ISS’s CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) activity. I worked for two weeks in Zamboanga City for the Yellow Boat of Hope (YBH) organisation, which provides boats for children who would otherwise have to swim to school.

Before we went on our trip, a friend and I raised funds through various activities at school so that we could donate some boats. From the funds raised, we were able to donate three boats, and with the remaining money we bought school supplies for the kids at Layag-Layag – hundreds of notebooks, pads of paper, erasers, pencils, crayon packs and more.

During my visit to the Layag-Layag community, I was able to see how these people live every day from an outsider’s point of view – how parents earn their livelihood through seaweed farming and how the kids get to their school. I also helped with the distribution of some personal hygiene products.

A week later was our scheduled distribution day where we distributed the school supplies and school bags (donated by another group) to kids from Layag-Layag at their school. When I arrived at the front gate, I was really overwhelmed by the number of people in the auditorium.

After the distribution, I was able to interact with the kids and ask them about their studies; the one thing I told them was to study really hard so they can achieve their dreams in life.

ISS International School
21 Preston Road

Tanvi Dutta Gupta, Grade 8
School trip to: MALAYSIA

“No one is an island” was the refrain on our 8th grade SAS school trip, and this was proved again and again when together we cooked traditional Malay candy, played games that tested our home base’s bonds to their maximum, and tightly clutched friends’ hands as we plummeted off a two-metre dock.

Classroom Without Walls (CWW) is a three-day, two-night trip that SAS middle-schoolers take every year to varied locations near Singapore. It’s a team-building outing in its essence, designed to expose us to new cultures, trigger character growth, push the limits of our comfort zones and foster team spirit.

But any SAS middle-schooler can tell you that it’s more than the official description. Who could forget wading in the mangroves in 6th grade? Or zooming down the waterslide in 7th? Ask any 8th grader, and it’s impossible that they’d have forgotten the moment just after jumping off the dock when they looked down and realised just how far away the water was.

CWW isn’t just about team-building. It’s getting to know yourself as a person and getting to know your friends. It’s the creation of memories you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.

Singapore American School
40 Woodlands Street 41
6363 3403 | sas.edu.sg

Chloe Sommerin, Grade 10
School trip to: THAILAND

I went to Chiang Mai, Thailand, with my class for a fun, action-packed, educational school trip. We explored Chiang Mai and got to work with certain non-government organisations (NGO) to help us with ideas for our own school service projects.

Over the five days we were there, we did a lot of fun things like rock climbing, abseiling, mountain climbing (for over eight hours!) and trying new and exciting foods. Some of the things we experienced I had never done before. We went camping and had to use bucket showers and squat toilets. It was definitely something new for all of us. We tried many new foods, some of which I enjoyed and some of which I shall never try again!

My favourite parts of the trip were going to a local NGO farm where we got to fish, plant rice seeds and swim in the pond. I also really enjoyed abseiling down a 75-metre cave, which was something I’d never done before.

The trip to Chiang Mai opened my eyes and made me look at things differently. I learned a lot and really enjoyed experiencing it with my class. I’m looking forward to going on many more fun trips with my class this year.

Stamford American International School
279 Upper Serangoon Road (1 Woodleigh Lane)

Meditating on a mountain? Not your average school trip 

Holly Leadbitter, Tanglin Alumni (graduated July 2013)
School trip to: INDIA

Standing at an altitude of 5,035 metres with the brisk wind rustling our prayer flags, as we sent compassion over the mountains and out to the world, was the pinnacle moment of our weeklong trip to Ladakh in the foothills of the Himalayas.

After trekking for several days amidst spectacular scenery, side by side with Tibetan mules, experiencing sweltering sun, hail, snow and a small dose of altitude sickness, the final challenging climb was without a doubt worth it.

We were in Ladakh working with Bill Kite’s Himalayan Health Project and Global Clinic, a team of medics based in Singapore, to provide the gift of medical care to the local people. Before the trip, we received training in how to carry out medical vision screening. In Ladakh, we performed visual acuity and blood pressure tests, logged patients’ data and prescribed glasses at the various medical camps. It was both magical and rewarding to watch patients’ faces light up once they could see properly with their new spectacles.

Our trip also embraced a visit to Lamdon School – Tanglin has a long-standing relationship with Lamdon. We were not only impressed by the new on-campus medical clinic to which our fundraising had contributed, but also by the warm welcome we received from the students, two of whom are now completing their Sixth Form education at Tanglin.

I really feel we made a difference to the community in Ladakh and the stunning scenery, peaceful people and charming culture made a lasting impression.

Tanglin Trust School
95 Portsdown Road


Karin Goh, Grade 12 (Dover Campus)
School trip to: SOUTH AFRICA

As one of a group of 22 students from 13 Round Square schools around the world (roundsquare.org), I learnt so much during three weeks in South Africa and will never forget the experiences had. Our first two weeks were spent at the Entokozweni Primary School building, gardening, teaching and painting murals on the walls, while the final week was an amazing adventure in the Greater Kruger.

The kitchen we built was for the 750 students. What initially was our main aim quickly became a side project as we took on gardening, teaching, painting and putting together a new playground.

Teaching was extremely enriching. Most of our lessons took place outdoors and involved educational games rather than plain old note-taking. I was apprehensive at first because I was unsure what their English was like but I soon learned that they were very bright. It was a joy teaching the Entokozweni students and I don’t think I’ll ever find such great students again!

Project breaks included a visit to Kruger National Park and Penryn College (another Round Square school), a township tour and the Panorama Tour. We immersed ourselves in the culture by attending performances and participating in traditional dance and drumming.

Our last week in South Africa was spent at Elephant’s Drift. We saw plenty of wildlife, slept under the stars (no tents!), played riverbed volleyball and had a wonderful dinner in the middle of the bush. This last week was great for experiencing what we see Africa to be all about while solidifying our newfound friendships.

For more about the Round Square International Service Project, South Africa, see rsissouthafrica2013.wordpress.com.

UWC South East Asia
Dover Campus: 1207 Dover Road
East Campus: 1 Tampines Street 73