Some lessons are best learnt outside the classroom; here, 12 students from Dulwich College Singapore, Avondale Grammar School, Canadian International School, UWC South East Asia, Australian International School, Marlborough College Malaysia, Tanglin Trust School, ISS International School, GEMS World Academy, Singapore American School, Stamford American School and EtonHouse International School, tell Expat Living what made their recent school excursions so special.
Student: Sita Philip, Year 5
School: Dulwich College Singapore
Duration: Two weeks
“This summer, I was fortunate to go on the school choir trip organised by Dulwich College Shanghai and Dulwich College Singapore. We had the opportunity to rehearse and sing with the world famous Vienna Boys’ Choir as well as attend many musical workshops where we learnt to compose our own songs and sing a variety of music styles. I also had the chance to play my violin during some of our performances.
It was full-on hard work, singing and performing every day, but it was amazing fun. We stayed in Vienna and in the beautiful countryside of the Pielachtal, where the scenery was breathtaking! The highlight of the trip for me was singing ‘The Creation’ by Joseph Haydn with a group of professional singers for two whole hours in the magical setting of St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.
I made quite a few friends at our sister school in Shanghai, and I would like to thank the music teachers in both Shanghai and Singapore – Mr Goss, Mr Parker and Mrs Munro – for organising this wonderful trip. It was a truly thrilling experience, and I shall never forget it.”
71 Bukit Batok West Avenue 8
Student: Ryan Dobson, Year 5
School: Avondale Grammar School
Location: Northern Territory
Duration: One week
“Earlier this year, students from Avondale went on a one-week camp to the Northern Territory, where we had a fantastic time and did lots of interesting activities. On Day 1, we learnt about Darwin’s history and government while visiting the military museum, Darwin’s museum and Parliament House. We learnt about Darwin’s history during World War II and Cyclone Tracy, and we saw Sweetheart, a massive (stuffed) crocodile that caused havoc with boats in the 1970s.
We met a few of the local indigenous people who live in Kakadu National Park. They showed us different kinds of native trees and plants that they use, like the soap tree and the foam tree. We also learnt how to throw a spear – everyone loved that!
We explored Kakadu National Park for two days and saw lots of wildlife, including crocodiles, and went on bush walks and even did some rock climbing.
During a visit to a local school, Larrakeyah Primary School, I discovered most of the boys there played rugby like me, so we had a great game of touch rugby. It was fun, even when the sprinklers on their rugby field started spraying water on us. In fact, it was the best school trip I’ve ever been on!”
318 Tanglin Road
Student: Lori Gunn, Grade 12
School: Canadian International School (CIS)
Location: Phnom Penh
Duration: Nine days
“Can we really make a difference? This was at the forefront of my thoughts earlier this year, as I listened to Janne Ritskes, the founder of the Tabitha Foundation, which helps Cambodians help themselves out of poverty. Our group of 12 girls and four boys was about to embark on a service trip and discover just how strong and determined we really were.
On our first day, we visited a primary school where we taught students new skills and helped them with their English lessons. Many of these young children would be working instead of attending school if it weren’t for the food their families receive in return for sending them to school. The following morning, we attended a soccer training session and played a friendly football match with Happy Football Cambodia Australia, a soccer club that provides the opportunity for disadvantaged and homeless youths to play amateur athletics. We were soundly trounced!
Next was an unforgettable tour of former prison S-21, and the Killing Fields. Learning about the Cambodian genocide in this way gave us an understanding that we could never gain in a classroom.
It also gave greater meaning to our house-building mission, which I was nervous about. Could I make a meaningful contribution? The Cambodian families had worked hard, saving a dollar at a time towards the cost of the building materials that would become their homes.
With sweat pouring down our faces, we hammered floorboards and sidings until our hands were covered in blisters. At the end, we had built houses for six very happy families. Their smiling faces are an image we will carry with us always.”
Lakeside Campus, 7 Jurong West Street 41
Tanjong Katong Campus, 371 Tanjong Katong Road
Students: Kaushal Alate, Carla Condori Bazan, Yannick Gijrath, Vincent Harrold, Dario Merlino, Camila Fernandez Nion, Jason Schweizer and John Tallas, Grade 11
School: UWC South East Asia
Location: Phnom Penh and Kep
Duration: One week
“In March this year, we travelled to Cambodia as part of Project Week, a compulsory component of Grade 11 that offers a unique and invaluable learning experience, and the chance to pursue a personal interest beyond the limitations of the classroom. It’s the culmination of UWC’s Outdoor Education programme, and consists of a low-cost, independent, project-based trip that is organised and planned by students under the guidance of teacher mentors.
We visited historical sites, the Killing Fields and the S-21 prison, and undertook reforestation work in Kep Province, which involved setting up the nursery, gathering seedlings and planting. We also attended classes in Japanese martial arts, focusing on bokken swords.
Gaining a deeper awareness of reforestation work and contributing to ongoing efforts to protect Southeast Asia’s natural environment was the most rewarding part of Project Week. It was also fascinating to learn concepts in the iaido and kenjutsu martial arts and how they can be used to enhance our daily lives.
The project was a rewarding experience and we learnt a lot, from historical details of Cambodia’s recent past to hands-on reforestation skills and martial arts. This is an experience we would love future Grade 11 students to experience.”
Dover Campus, 1207 Dover Road
East Campus, 1 Tampines Street 73
Student: Nathan Ruddock and Kapil Bhuta, Year 9
School: Australian International School
Duration: One week
“In July, our Mandarin class went on a cultural and language immersion trip, and as students who study language alongside Chinese history, we felt this was a great chance for us to practise speaking Mandarin and experience the unique culture of China. We visited temples, shopping districts and major tourist sites such as the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. It was exciting to finally experience places that we’d only previously read about in our textbooks. We also had a blast buying souvenirs and bargaining with shopkeepers – all in Mandarin!
Our favourite part of the trip was spending quality time at a local secondary school, where we exchanged gifts with the students and learnt more about their lives in Beijing. While it was challenging to express ourselves and listen to everything in Mandarin, we made many new friends and we continue to write to them.
Meeting the locals and experiencing the sights and sounds of China in person was an opportunity not only to widen our Mandarin vocabulary, but also to return with a deeper understanding of China’s rich history, culture and heritage. We feel extremely privileged to study at AIS, and to be given such amazing opportunities for global perspectives.”
1 Lorong Chuan
Student: Stefan Tasoren, Year 12
School: Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM)
Duration: 12 days
“In June, 15 pupils were fortunate to visit our sister school Marlborough College in Wiltshire. Most of us had never visited England, or at least not for many years, so the cold weather (relative to Singapore) was something new! Our sister school has a very long history and it was great to learn more about it while staying in the boarding houses – the boys in Littlefield and the girls in accommodation next door.
The main purpose of the trip was the opportunity to visit some top universities such as Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Birmingham and many others. These visits gave us a good insight into what UK university life is like – and life there in general. We also took some time to be tourists in London and experience The Lion King musical, and to watch a one-day cricket match in Eastbourne, both great fun and totally new experiences for us.
We felt very welcome at the college, almost as if we hadn’t left home, and we participated in an event with the UK pupils that allowed us to engage in the vibrant community and experience the different lifestyle. We all loved visiting the town of Marlborough and the shops on the High Street – a brilliant experience.
It’s great that MCM has a sister school in the UK with links with these top universities, and we all look forward to the year group exchanges that take place several times a year.”
Jalan Marlborough, Malaysia
+60 7560 2200
Student: Bence Kaposi, Year 13
School: Tanglin Trust School
Duration: Two weeks
“Preparations for our trip began many months beforehand with fundraisers for the medical equipment we were going to be taking with us. Finally, on 21 June, we flew to New Delhi. From there we took a small plane into the Himalayas, which flew between the mountains before landing on a tiny runway. We spent our first few days acclimatising to the altitude by exploring Ladakh and the surrounding area, and visiting Lamdon School. Tanglin has built a partnership with the school over many years, and they welcomed us with genuine warmth and open arms.
On the fifth day, we drove to the hospital where we were going to be volunteering, and were each given stations, ranging from conducting eye tests to teaching locals how to brush their teeth and working as assistants to the in-house dentists and doctors. On each of the three days, the hospital received a thousand more Ladakhi people than expected. We worked tirelessly and felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Being able to help, even in a small way, is something we all agreed we would like to experience again.
On our eighth day, we set out on the trek. Initially we walked through an arid, desert-like valley, then as we walked higher we saw more greenery and wildlife, and finally snow-capped mountains. This led us to the foot of the Chang La Pass, which, at 4,500m, loomed above us – the view from the summit was breathtaking!
Visiting and volunteering at Ladakh left us all with feelings of accomplishment and reward; not only had we helped the local Ladakhi people, but we had also benefited through a heightened sense of community and wellbeing.”
95 Portsdown Road
Student: Anonymous, Grade 11
School: ISS International School
Duration: One week
“We walked one-by-one for an hour through the narrow streets of the Philippines. We hadn’t slept much the previous night, tense with excitement, and also some worry: Would we be able to connect with the kids and would they open up and communicate with us?
In February, Grade 11s visited Tuble Elementary School where we cooked lunch for their 330 students and interacted with them through activities like dancing and playing volleyball. Working with the school was one of many activities undertaken during the four days of our trip . Called ‘Week Without Walls’, it was a part of the CAS Program (creativity, action, and service) within the IB curriculum.
We needn’t have worried. On that day at Tuble Elementary School, the students greeted us, and chanted, ‘Welcome, visitors!’ I felt exhilarated and had one of the best experiences of my life. The warm-hearted kindness of the people at that school, and the other people of the Philippines, astonished us all.”
25 Paterson Road
Student: Alicia Soosai, Grade 7
School: GEMS World Academy
Location: SAFRA Country Club
Duration: Two days
“The new academic year at GEMS World Academy (Singapore) kicked off with an ‘Experiential Learning Program’ (ELP) and it was a blast! Every kid, from Kindergarten through to Grade 10, was given the opportunity to get out of the classroom for two days of action-packed activities.
Day 1 saw my year group head to SAFRA Country Club, where we completed three exciting activities: the canopy sky-walk, rock climbing and the indoor bouldering gym. Every activity was a new experience for me, and I was really forced to be a risk-taker and step out of my comfort zone. By the end of the day, not only had I had loads of fun, but I also left feeling really proud of myself and my accomplishments.
The second day was called ‘Ready Steady Cook!’, where the Grade 6 and 7 students competed in teams against each other in a Masterchef-style cook-off and a water-rafting challenge. In these activities, I learnt how to communicate effectively and improve my cooperation skills. I thoroughly enjoyed both challenges, especially the cook-off because it allowed me to learn how to cook under time pressure.
Overall, the ELP was an exhilarating experience, especially for a new student to the school like me. It provided an opportunity for everyone to socialise with each other and set a solid foundation for us to take on the challenges ahead of us with the support of new friends.”
2 Yishun Street 42
Student: Tara Lyons, Grade 12
School: Singapore American School
Location: Thai-Burmese border
Duration: One week
“Serving the Karen tribe along the Thailand and Burma border pushed me to try new things and be more confident in myself. The trip was part of the interim semester, where students can choose from 58 week-long courses in 28 countries.
I chose a service trip to try to help others and change their lives, but found that it was really my life that changed. The service work was physically challenging to say the least, but I got to know the local people we were doing projects for and that sparked determination to work hard.
Planning for the English camp was stressful. Becoming a teacher has always been my goal and this was one of the first times I’d been given the chance to plan a lesson and teach a class. I was terrified, yet, when the kids walked into the classroom, I was so excited for them to learn. My only thoughts were how much fun each child was having and how much they learnt in only 25 minutes of class.
This trip pushed me to try new things, gave me a new outlook on community, created support among my classmates, and taught me to be more confident in myself.”
40 Woodlands Street 41
Student: Olivia Lindell, Grade 10
School: Stamford American School
Location: Chiang Mai
Duration: One week
“Last year, our field studies trip was taken towards the start of the school, so it was a great time to make new friends, bond and work as a team to learn about Thai culture. We all enjoyed the night markets and authentic Thai food, even trying snacks such as mango rice and fried crickets!
I had the opportunity to visit an NGO called Art Relief International, which helps children who are in a tough situation express themselves through different art forms. I also had the chance to visit a home for girls and interact with children from six to 18 years of age. Despite the language barrier, we were able to communicate through art. Other groups visited NGOs with different focuses, including farming and organic rice.
Another highlight of the trip was experiencing rock climbing and caving for the first time. I have a fear of heights, so being able to climb a rock and zip-line across a cave was a big achievement for me! We also went trekking and worked as a team to find our way out of the forest using a compass. To celebrate the end of the trip, we reflected on our camp week, lit Thai lanterns and released them into the sky.
Overall, the trip was the best that I have ever taken; it allowed me to create and lead in a real-life environment beyond the classroom. I was able to develop my self-belief, leadership and communication skills, and I look forward to this year’s camp trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia.”
1 Woodleigh Lane
Student: Lucas Pereira, Year 5
School: EtonHouse International School
Duration: Five days
“We were asked to choose between China and Krabi for our camp and I was happy that Krabi was the popular choice; it sounded awesome as we would get to do all sorts of fun things! We had to take toiletries, mosquito spray, plasters, water shoes, swimmers, hats and some snacks – no expensive stuff, though.
Just before the plane took off, we all started singing ‘Surface’ and the other passengers started laughing! We arrived at Krabi and took boats to Tonsai Beach. Everyone was tired so we rested for a while, then we went to the beach and looked for sea creatures and jumped over rocks to find them. I felt nervous because there were crabs, stingrays and sea slugs that were extremely slimy and gooey.
Everything we did in Krabi was fun, hands-on and no work at all! We did rock climbing, snorkelling and kayaking. Some of them felt really scary at first, like rock-climbing on a real mountain, but our teachers did it and we followed! My favourite activities were deep-water soloing and snorkelling, because it was my first time doing both.
Krabi was fun! We all learnt to be risk-takers, how to survive nature and how to live without our families, even though sometimes we felt like crying. We also learnt how to live with our friends. I will remember this forever as it’s the best camp I’ve ever been on.
This article was first featured in the November 2015 issue of the magazine.