C.U.S. Trip to Suzhou, China 2014 (15th-29th of November)
Our trip Suzhou started off on a very early Friday morning in Dublin airport at 4:30am in the morning. A group of two fifth year and eight fourth year students prepared for a long day’s travelling accompanied by Mr. Blanch and Mr. Conway. We had a one stop over in Paris which gave us time to grab a little bit of breakfast and play on some Playstations. Then we boarded an eleven and a half hour flight to Pudong International Airport- Shanghai.
When we arrived we were welcomed by Jennifer who escorted us to our bus which took us to the arts school in Suzhou. The bus journey was an amazing introduction to the Chinese culture. We were amazed by all the high-raised buildings and flats, masses of cars and trucks crowded on the roads and all the people scooting around on these e-bikes. It was very busy, nothing compared to home. When we arrived at the school we met our exchange hosts, and split up for the weekend.
On Monday morning we went to the school where we had a formal welcoming from the Art High School Principal. After our meeting we went to an amusement park which was a lot of fun. Almost everyday we played football on the school’s Astro-pitch against the other Chinese boys. Throughout the week we went on many different trips to world famous gardens and museums, my favourite was ‘The Lion Garden’. Some days we partook in art classes which were brilliant. The standard over there was amazing.
On the Friday our teachers had organised a football match; the Irish students and teachers versus the school’s football team and some teachers. It was a tough match but after extra time we won 4-2 with thanks to David O’Leary scoring 3 goals. That Saturday my host family and I went to visit Shanghai. We took the high-speed train which was able to travel up to 300km per hour. I had never experienced anything like it before.
Sunday we went to a silk factory, for which Suzhou is famous. There we learned how the farmers grow the silk worms which then eventually produce the silk which is used for many different things such as duvets, dresses and scarfs. We had the opportunity to purchase some gifts for our families and friends which they certainly enjoyed.
After that we went straight to the International Foreign Language School, where we stayed during the second half of our trip. There we took part in the 6th Annual International Young Leaders Forum, which consist of many schools from China, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea and for the first time Ireland. The school was like something completely different to home, it had football pitches, basketball courts, a ‘future room’ with touch screen computers as white boards and a massive auditorium where we were amazed by a magnificent opening ceremony from the school.
For the rest of the week we were split into different groups with different delegates from around the world. There were eight groups and they were divided up again into four other groups based on education, transport, culture and environment topics. Each group were taken on different trips based on their group topic, for example I went to a migrant worker children’s school, which was in very bad and poor condition.
Later on that week my group had to create a presentation on education and its problems both in China and from each of our countries and present it at the end of the week. The week went well and all of the presentations were brilliant. On the last day there was a celebration dinner in a traditional Chinese restaurant, that we all enjoyed very much so. We had to say our goodbyes and take all of the photos very quickly because we were in a rush to get our flight home later that night. Once everyone was ready we set off on our last bus journey to Pudong International Airport where almost everyone was very eager to get back home.
Overall it was a magnificent experience, we are so grateful to all involved in organising the trip, and so thankful to the International Foreign Language School, Suzhou for inviting us to partake in the International Young Leaders Forum. On behalf of all the students who were on the trip I would like to thank Mr. Conway and Mr. Blanch for taking us on the trip, it was such an amazing experience.
CUS 5th Year Student