Once in a lifetime school trips on offer at international schools in Singapore:
August this year marked the start of a cultural experience for AISS’ first IB Diploma Programme students. We flew from Singapore to Kuching for our Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Camp, a core part of the IB Diploma Programme. From Kuching we ventured to our campsite in the rainforest of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo.
What was interesting was the politics surrounding its location – Sarawak belongs to Malaysia, yet is seen as being on the island of Indonesia. The rainforest exuded natural beauty; the beach, the stream, the trees, the sea and the clear sky heightened our experience.
Part of the camp’s purpose was to develop our TOK presentation. Delving into contemporary issues allowed for great discussion about issues such as the media’s influence on perceptions of beauty, the extent to which illegal downloading spurs the music industry, usage of biofuels, animal testing controversies, the 9/11 terrorist attack’s effects on future religious generations and how great individuals influence whole societies.
Hovering above the landscape was the presence of Sarawak’s culture – especially the diverse array of ethnic groups including the tribal people, such as the Bidayu, Iban and Orang Ulu tribes, the Chinese and the Malay. Each group brought with it its own culture, allowing us to gain a perspective on a new part of the world. Perhaps surprising to us, but common in the tribal system, was the tradition of headhunting, which we found fascinating!
With culture entwined with nature, coupled with the bonds of friendship, the whole experience formed an unforgettable part of my final school years.
One of the highlights of my grade 10 year was the excursion to Hanoi, Vietnam in March 2011. The focus of the trip was community and service, and we worked with an NGO called Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation as part of their “stay in school” programme (www.streetkidsinvietnam.com). We spent most of our time in a rural village just outside Hanoi called Bac Ninh, where we worked with school children. We were all a little apprehensive about what to expect, but upon arrival, any uncertainty evaporated as the greeting the children gave us was overwhelming.
Our time was spent cleaning up rubbish, painting the outside walls of the school, teaching some classes, and doing a thorough clean up of the school grounds. Despite the language barrier, we were able to teach the children the basic skills of keeping their school environment clean.
Our trip to Bac Ninh was an amazing educational opportunity and our experiences over the three days at the school really had a profound effect on all of us and made me realise that we must never take for granted what we have. This experience helped me to grow as a person, understanding what I can do for others, and the positive difference that I can make in the world.
When we first arrived, we were just regular grade 10 students living in Singapore who visited a school in Vietnam. When we left Bac Ninh, we realised that we are all global citizens with the opportunity to make a difference.
We flew to Lombok in March 2011 with our teacher Mr. Lim, to escape the city and indulge in some fresh air. We decided to climb Mount Rinjani (3,726m), the second highest mountain in Indonesia. Not very relaxing, but we thought it would be a challenge…and indeed it was. We have never taken part in anything as physically exhausting.
We reached Lombok and spent the first night in an enchanting lodge, full of local charm. The dawn start came all too soon. Dragged from our beds before sunrise, we were on our way to the base camp. We walked through thick dark jungle; a presence from the trees constantly eyeing us – monkeys, it was as if we were entertainment for them.
After a long and tedious jungle trek, the scenery changed. The landscape became a mass of big, black rock slopes as this was an active volcano we were ascending. Lava from the past had cooled and had grass growing in spots, which made the climb even more treacherous. Local porters moved on ahead of us with the greatest of ease, carrying packs and provisions.
We rested and admired the breathtaking scenery before the final climb! It really was hard going, but we were determined to push on. Our leg muscles were screaming, yet if we stopped we became cold, so we just had to keep plodding along.
It was worth it. To climb such an impressive mountain is an unforgettable experience. Standing at 3,726m was like being on top of the world. Our adventure did not end there. Afterwards we went to the Gilli Islands, for some fun of a different kind.
We went to Camp Loola in Bintan, Indonesia in April 2011 with our whole class. We took the ferry from Tanah Merah and a bus to Loola from the ferry terminal. Though it was an educational trip it felt like a leisure trip. However, we did learn a lot.
On the first day we did rock climbing, coconut tree climbing and an obstacle course. It was tough but fun.
On the second day we did dragon boat racing, kayaking and boom netting. For dragon boat racing there were two boats with many people inside. In kayaking there were three people in each boat. For boom netting there were two floors on a big boat from which we jumped into a net in the ocean. It was very safe because we were wearing life jackets. All the activities taught us to be risk-takers, but in a safe way.
On our last day we did flying fox and sky walking. For flying fox we had to climb a big ladder and wear a harness then hold a handle attached to a thick rope and land into a pool. For sky walking, we had to wear a harness and climb up a ladder, walk to the middle of a log and then jump down. All of the activities were great. Though a few were scary, they were also enjoyable. We were divided into two or three different groups for our activities so we learnt cooperation and sharing.
At the end everyone said good things about the camp. Some people wanted to go back because it was awesome! The best part was roasting marshmallows in front of the campfire before bedtime. Yum!
Activity Week in November 2010 was quite an adventure for me. Having only just moved to Asia and ISS International School, going on a whitewater rafting and mountain biking trip to Sukabumi in Indonesia not only gave me a very memorable experience but also built the foundation of many new friendships.
The five days we spent camping in bamboo huts, that only had ice-cold bucket showers, were full of new challenges and plenty of fun. We started off with two days of mountain biking, which were particularly amazing because of the remote tracks and fascinating views over rice terraces and jungle valleys, and then spent the next two days rafting, a completely new experience to me. Even though the weather did not play its part for this one, it was still a lot of fun and a real thrill to raft the rapids of Citatih River.
All of us were very happy to spend the last night in a hotel resort at the coast, which very nicely rounded off this intense adventure trip with a relaxing evening and a good night’s sleep.
NPS International School
Imagine six days of fun with all your friends and challenging activities thrown in for an unforgettable experience in Thailand.
In August, we left for Thailand. The sight of picturesque hills and the majestic Maekok River greeted us as we arrived. Although we reached Maekok River Village Resort in Thanton around midnight, we still had plans to have loads of fun that night!
Over the next few days, we tested our endurance levels and got as muddy as possible! We did canoeing and kayaking down the Maekok River, cycled past the emerald green rice terraces, hiked 7km to the Temple of Heaven and learnt about the lifestyles of local villagers.
We also camped out all night, made our own bonfire, cooked pasta in the bamboo bowls and pots that we made and even faced the wrath of a giant spider that spun its web above the tents that we pitched ourselves! It was amazing how much we packed into each day and how independent we felt by the end of it.
We did community service at a Thai village and had the opportunity to teach children our age. We experienced how different their lifestyle is to ours. We planted trees with them and talking to them was a novel experience. Not only did we do gruelling physical activities, but we also learnt Thai cooking.
This trip was an amazing adventure, because it brought us all closer together and helped us forge new friendships. We played endless games that reinforced our confidence and teamwork and returned with unforgettable memories.
In September, the Stamford American 7th and 8th grade students took a week-long trip to Ipoh, Malaysia. We did all kinds of activities like visiting native villages and the local mangroves. We even saw things like monkeys, palm oil plantations and interesting rock formations. Our activities ranged from walking all the way to a really great village to seeing cave pictures on walls.
Carolyn Kelly (Grade 7)
This May myself and another Tanglin student, Danielle Guy, had the pleasure of leading a group of Year 13 students on a two-week service trip to the remote Himalayan region of Ladakh. Tanglin has a long-lasting relationship with Lamdon School and following the devastating Indus Valley floods of 2010, I felt that the best way to show commitment to the friendship between our schools was to personally volunteer to aid the reconstruction and recovery efforts on the ground. Thankfully, fourteen other students and two external adults agreed to this crackpot scheme of mine!
Through Tanglin’s dedicated charity fund, Our World, we were able to secure a significant amount of school funding to get this first-ever, entirely student-led trip off the ground. I believe that this money was put to fantastic use and enabled us to undertake a considerable amount of work at Lamdon. We deconstructed the original school buildings to free up materials for a new science block and create space for an outdoor amphitheatre.
We painted around 200 feet of fencing and had the task of levelling out land and digging irrigation trenches in the poplar grove at Lamdon Model School in the village of Shey, which was also badly hit by the floods. We were also able to fit in periods of downtime, with shopping and eating high on the list of things to do, in addition to our days out to monasteries and for treks.
The trip was fulfilling in every possible sense. Given the opportunity, I think every member of the group would go back again.
Last summer 60 UWCSEA students spent an unforgettable 20 days in the snowy mountain passes, freezing rivers and wide open spaces of beautiful Ladakh. We learned about the ancient culture of the Ladaki people and spent time living with them. We trekked four to eight hours a day at high altitude, lived in tiny tents, crossed fast moving rivers with freezing waters, ate local food and made some incredible new friends.
For the first few days of our trek, all we could see were towering mountains and empty spaces. As we climbed higher and the nights became colder, we started to see trees, grass, rivers, mountain goats, sheep and marmots. The trek was difficult, but everyone supported and helped each other. The last day of the trek was the most exciting, because we woke up to find that it was snowing outside.
After the trek, we stayed with students from Lamdon School for three days. They were extremely welcoming. Over the next few days, we went to a few monasteries, a museum and a palace, as well as to the Tibetan Refugee Market for shopping. On the second day, we watched a talent show put on by the Lamdon School students. UWCSEA has opened a new music centre there and has donated a complete set of brass instruments to the school.
At 3000m and above, not much wildlife was to be seen. However, at Lamdon School, all we could see was a sea of green. UWCSEA has planted over 8,000 poplar trees there since 2008, allowing the school to earn extra income by using the timber to make furniture. Another 2,000 trees will be planted every year until 2023 to create a forest of self-sustaining poplars. It was a truly unforgettable experience.
Read more of the November magazine online in our e-magazine