By Paris Shen
Year 13 Onewa Junior House Prefect
If I am ever asked what the highlight of my 2019 was, my answer will always and forever be the 2019 China Study Camp, hosted by the Confucius Institute of Auckland.
The camp was a 17-day long, fully-funded trip visiting three cities of China, two well-known (Shenzhen and Shanghai) and the other, not so much (Guiyang). I have to admit, I was less excited for this trip than I should’ve been, especially since I was the only student from Westlake Girls to participate in the camp, and how I had not been overseas in over nine years, which definitely gave me nerves. Fortunately, the trip quickly proved my low expectations wrong.
Every day of the trip was a rich, immersive experience into the culture of China. The trip struck a good balance between study and sightseeing, with us taking Chinese classes on certain days at Fudan University of Shanghai, one of the top universities in China, and visiting landmarks on others.
Rather than being typical Chinese lessons, the lessons consisted of practical activities and vocabulary that we could put to use during our trip, like how to bargain, order food and ask for directions. The skills we learnt were later put to the test. For example, we went to a huge bazaar to test our bargaining skills, and were given free time at a shopping mall to order food for dinner ourselves.
Our tour guide regularly gave us informative talks on our bus rides regarding the history and cultures of the cities we were in, surprising us, yet also allowing us to gain a greater understanding of the differences between China and New Zealand. Every day was a learning experience, and I’m extremely glad I was persuaded to take up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The memories I’ve made and friendships I’ve formed are truly precious to me. I even shed tears after landing back in NZ!
A special thank you goes to Miss Song, my Chinese teacher, and Confucius Institute for providing an unforgettable experience for all of us.