Bulletin from Beijing and Shanghai

Victorian Young Leaders to China Tour – 19th March to 30th April

Lisa Nguyen, Lisa Buahn, Sisi Ti Shi and Maryann Toeke with Mrs Sally Pardew


It’s hard to believe our time away is already half gone! So much has happened, so many amazing experiences have unfolded since we caught our flight on the 19th March. We all miss home and friends badly but none of us want to miss out on what’s happening here either. It’s exciting and very tiring!Lisa Nguyen, Lisa Buahn, Sisi Ti Shi and Maryann Toeke at the Confucius Centre Lisa Nguyen at the Great Wall IMG_0004 Students arriving at Shanghai

As well as gaining an understanding of the amazing differences in geography, history, politics, lifestyles and education between Australia and China, we’ve found that teenagers the world over seem to be able to connect and communicate, no matter what. Our ‘buddies’ here have been brilliant…so much help and so much fun! They’re helping us to understand things and to ‘soak up’ the Chinese language we are learning, so we can use it confidently in the street with strangers. It’s a real thrill to be understood when you make a purchase in a shop, using a whole new language!

We thought Beijing was brilliant; working hard on our Chinese classes and study sessions at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, while we also saw amazing sights including the Temple of Heaven, The Summer Palace, Beijing Museum, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden Palace, the Art Precinct, of course, the amazing Great Wall and the Olympics setting with the famous ‘Bird’s Nest’ and ‘Ice-Cube’. We even travelled on the subway to go shopping, scary to think about it but it all went well. We got used to the dry warmth and hay-fever of Beijing. However, our flight to Shanghai brought some rain and refreshed us before our arrival at the Shanghai Industry and Commerce School of Foreign Languages.

This school is exciting with many differences from our own school. We now live in dormitories (four flights of stairs!), sharing a room that has a toilet and shower, so it’s simple but comfortable. We are expected to make our beds, sweep, clear off shelves and do our hand washing regularly. Our rooms are given a score each day by a ‘Dorm Co-ordinator’. We all try to get the top possible score of 9.5…and we did, by the second day! We have to spend from 8.00am after breakfast until 8.30pm at our classroom (up five flights of stairs!), except for a lunch and dinner break. In our evening study after dinner, we have a light supper before we finish and return to our dorms at 8.30, for lights out by 9.30pm. It’s tiring and pressured, with homework from classes to complete but we can tell we are learning a lot!

Shanghai and Beijing are similar in the way we have lots of classes with some breaks for interesting outings and sights. So far, in Shanghai, we’ve walked the famous shopping mall of Nanjing Road in a massive, public holiday crowd and walked the landmark sky-scape of ‘the Bund’. The Shanghai Museum had fascinating exhibits and we’ve been thrilled to be able to compare the Beijing and Shanghai acrobatics shows, both ending with a mesmerising act of eight motorbikes inside a big metal mesh ball, going round and round, without crashing! We had a great time having a go at being part of the dragon dance yesterday and we’ve joined in cultural dances and songs in class. We had a master of Calligraphy teach us too. It’s now Friday afternoon and we have more study time after dinner before we have an early start to take off for a weekend away at the picturesque area of Hangzhou…more photos to share! At the end of next week’s work, we are all excited to be going on our first ‘Buddy’ visit for all of Saturday. I bet it’ll be fun!

Lisa Nguyen, 9A says:

“The first three weeks have been very tiring but also very exciting. Classes have been longer than back home, some were fun and very interactive using language games and some physical exercises like Tai Chi. My goal for this trip was to make many friends and so far I have achieved it! The Great Wall was very hard to climb… the steps were up to my knees…#shortgirlproblems. Probably my most favourite part in Beijing was the Summer Palace because the scenery was really pretty but the hayfever kind of spoiled it. The most difficult bit was parting with the Marcellin College and St. Joseph’s boys because we got to know them so well (mind you there were only 7 girls and 30 boys!!). During the two weeks we met some really friendly volunteers, business graduates who do extra work to help their English speaking skills to help them get future jobs. They were great fun. At the current moment I’ve found this first week of high school in Shanghai more challenging than the university classes I took in Beijing.

We’ve been climbing up so many stairs. There are no elevators to our class so we have to climb up 5 flights of stairs and 4 flights of stairs to our dorms. I’ll be fitter and stronger when I get home!

Lisa Buahn 9E, says:

“This experience so far has been the best thing that has happened to me. The first two weeks in Beijing and the first week in Shanghai has been amazing; new friends, more confidence and an experience that money can’t buy. It’s my once in a lifetime opportunity.

Although there were highs and lows the highs were better than the lows because there were people always there for you. I can’t wait to see what comes next!”


Sisi Ti Shi Says:

My three weeks in China, in Beijing and Shanghai have been amazing and incredible, thanks to the teachers and volunteers here, (and our school for letting me come.) The food, locals, events, culture, people and the historical buildings have blown my mind. It’s such a great honour and pleasure to be part of this experience. I couldn’t ask for more. We’ve gone through ups and downs in the past weeks but we’ve really grown and that’s what’s special about this experience. Right now, we’re working through our films and projects with our buddies and I’m enjoying every single bit of it. P.S. I’ve learned so much already.

Maryann Toeke 9B says:

These last few weeks in Beijing and Shanghai have been a big change for me and everyone else. I’ve made so many friends and met a lot of people. There’s a lot to experience in China, beautiful things everywhere, like gardens, buildings, shops and more. The school is really different from ours in Australia. I’ve learnt so much Chinese and I’m really proud to be here. When we were in Beijing we had a bigger group of mostly boys and we all got along so well but they’ve now gone to Nanjing and we have our own smaller group who we’re now getting to know. I think I’m now going really well, the first two weeks were really hard. I love it in Shanghai, I just wish I didn’t have to be away from my friends. At first some of the food was really hard for me but now I love the food and I’ve never eaten so much. As well, I like the way the school has clubs that we can join so I’m joining the singing and music or dancing club. I liked it too when we had singing and dancing in class for Culture studies and I like that we stay in our one room. I’m liking having some of their culture in me. It makes me feel stronger and it’s interesting. Xie xie. (Thankyou).