Thursday, 4 June 2015

Taiwan OELP reflection

Day 1 reflection
It was our first day and we headed to Taiwan at around 6 plus. I heard from my seniors that OELP will be very interesting and we would learn a lot from this trip. So I was looking forward to it. When we reached Kaohsiung International Airport, it was already 12 midnight and we were all exhausted and was hoping we could get some rest quickly. But what surprised me the most was some teachers and vice principal, 刘秘书 from 正心中学 were there waiting for our arrival to welcome us. I heard from our teacher that the Taiwanese would be very hospitable but I did not expect them to actual welcome us so late at night. Later, we reached " Ten Drums Village " the place we stay. From the name, I could tell this is an interesting place. I looked forward even more for the upcoming days in Taiwan.

Day 2 reflection
We visited several museum on Hakka cultures. We learnt a lot from these museum. For me it's even more meaningful as I did not know there is such culture. One of the few things I learnt is Hakka literally means 'guest families'. Due to circumstances such as inner conflicts, the Hans migrated southwards , from northern China to southern China for a safer and stable living environment. In the hilly areas they moved in, they developed the unique Hakka culture. Though it's amazing for me to came into contact with a brand new culture, what is more surprising is that Taiwan actually preserve the cultures to such extent. Many museums were built in order to remember such unique and interesting culture, to make sure they will not be forgotten as time goes by. I feel that Singaporeans should learn from the Taiwanese as Singapore is a bustling city place and people concentrates on things such as economics or academics. We will soon forgot about the cultures that are unique to us. We should learn to preserve them, remember them to make sure they would not disappear as time passes by.

Day 3 reflection
We visited some ancient places in Taiwan which were made to museums. One of them that interests me the most is the 'Chihkan Tower'. It was once belongs to emperor Qian long before Dutch colonization. It is very significant as it was surrendered to Koxinga when he recovered Taiwan. It is also one of the prominent heritage of Taiwan. The ' Chihkan Tower' appears grand and well preserved even after rebuilding it as it was once destroyed during the 921 earthquake. One thing that impressed me the most was it is very old and after rebuilding, it still looks the same as before. Apparently, the Taiwanese think of this Tower as something very important as they spend a lot of effort to rebuild it, preventing it to look too different from before in order to preserve its originality. I think Singapore never has any building as old as this. Even if we were to have some old buildings, by now, they should be gone or modernized. But Taiwanese does not wish to modernize the buildings that have historical values. This shows they think of their history as something great in significance. I feel that Singaporeans look too much towards the future instead of stop and think back to see our history, remember them and preserve them. At night, we visited "liuhe night market". It was something everyone looked forward to as it has been a famous popular Taiwan culture. Everything seems interesting and fascinating to us. The night market was very crowded with many types of food. However, there were no litter on the floor. After every about 10 meters of so, there would be a rubbish bin. Taiwanese think a lot about keeping their environment clean and be environmental friendly. But as for Singapore, though it's very clean but it was cleaned by foreign workers in order for Singapkre to remain clean. I think we should learn from the Taiwanese to keep our environment clean, not by relying on the foreign cleaners.

Day 4 reflection
On day 4 of the OELP, we visited our sister school, "sacred heart high school". We were split up to different classes and my group went to a year 4 math class. The teacher was very notivative and encouraging as the questions were too difficult. He was very friendly to us as well. He interacted a lot with his students and the atmosphere was as if they were friends. However, jokes are jokes, when going through questions, he would be very serious and the students as well, listened attentively. It was very interesting to go to lessons of a complete different environment. Though we do not understand a single thing from the lesson due to the huge gap in year level and language, we had fun trying their questions and interact with the students. After our lunch, in the afternoon, we wen to several old places in Taiwan. One of them was "siluo bridge". It is 79 years old. It was built on 24 March 1936, the local people of the area set up a committee to construct a bridge over the Zhuoshui River during the Japan colonization. Despite its "old age" the bridge is still steady and safe for people to cross. We can see the green scenery from the bridge as well. It was very beautiful and fascinating.

Day 5 reflection
We visited "sacred heart high school" again. I noticed something interesting. In this school, there are normal classes and special classes. In special classes, students of different genders will be in different classes. Some specialize in music and some soecialize in art. They focus a lot on them, it was similar to our CCAs. But for them, they go another level to develop the students by canceling classes such as home economics to make more time for the students to engage in their interests. I think Singapore would never do this as even though we have our CCAs, we still put our academics as top priority. After lunch, in the afternoon, we visited "iicake towel shop". It was very fascinating and interesting. The shop design was full of towel related items. We even did a DIY cat model towel. The staff were very welcoming and helpful. They guided us along the shop and introduced to us all about the towel. Before I visit this place, I though it will be a boring little shop with towels. But after visiting the shop, it was very different from what I imagined. I think the company thought of this to attract costumers as people are attracted to such unique types of shops. Furthermore, giving more knowledge to the costumers about the towels will make them to feel safe and trust the company. I think that this shop is very interesting and it was very creative of the person who thought of opening this shop. I feel that Taiwan is full of surprises as there are places like towel workshop, something we don't see everyday.

Day 6 reflection
It was the second last day of OELP and this time, our buddy's parents will bring us out. My buddy' slather brought me to three places and they are all very interesting. The first place was a shopping mall filled with shops and designs like olden Taiwan. Even the staff there dress like the olden Taiwan fashion. It was very interesting as there are also olden infrastructures such as trains. The second place was at the rural area. I saw many pineapple plantations there. We visited a famous pineapple tart shop and the pineapple tarts were delicious. It was made out of purely pineapple with no other chemicals or man made food in. It is different from what we eat in Singapore as the ones in Singapore is a mixed product. The last place was the most interesting one. Its called " 星月天空 ”. Its a place full of animal wonder off by themselves. They were very well trained that they are not afraid of people. We can pet them, feed them and take photos of them. The animal that caught me the most attention was the alpaca. I only heard of them but never actually seen one before so it was very amusing. This is very different from Singapore. In Singapore, places with animals are locked up and we could not interact with them. I think that maybe Singapore could do something like Taiwan, let the harmless animals to walk around the place by themselves. This could actually make the tourist attraction more popular and interesting. After dinner, a staff gave me a "孔明灯” for me to light it up. It was my very first time lighting one so I was very excited. It was very fun as I get to see and experience things I never experienced before.

Day 7 reflection
We are heading back to Singapore later that afternoon. But before that, we went to the 921 earthquake museum of Taiwan. Damage caused by the earthquake included 2,415 deaths, 29 missing, 11,305 severely wounded, with 51,711 buildings completely destroyed, 53,768 buildings severely damaged, and a total of NT$300 billion worth of damage. It was one of the most severe natural disaster. I feel saddened with the loss of lives and the trauma the people experienced during and after the earthquake. After witnessing some infrastructures that were destroyed during the earthquake, I feel so relieved that I live in Singapore where no natural disasters will occur. We must have taken our safe living environment for granted, without knowing how much other people in other parts of the Earth must suffer from the natural disasters. We should be thankful for our safe living environment as not all country gets to enjoy such safe living conditions Singapore has.

Over the past 6 days, I learnt a lot from Taiwan. I have learnt that Taiwanese emphasize a lot on their culture and historical event and tried their very best to preserve them. A few examples would be the 921 earthquake museum where infrastructures damaged during the earthquake is preserved and the Chihkan Tower. The Taiwanese wanted to make themselves remember and learn from them. For example, the 921 earthquake museum is to let the people remember what sufferings have  they gone through and be ready if such thing were to happen again. Another thing about Taiwanese is that they are very welcoming which leaves us a very good impression. The buddies and their parents looked after us well and brought us to take a look at Taiwan's tourists attraction to understand Taiwan even better. One thing that leaves me the most impression would be their lifestyle. When I visited the pineapple plantations in the rural areas, I realized the people there are constantly putting a smile on their faces. Their living condition is not as good as Singapore, such as living in olden brick houses but they seems contented. For people living in urban areas, such as Singapore with high standard of living conditions and many electronic equipment to keep ourselves entertained. But many of us do not seems happy or contented. They strive for more, competitive between each other to show who's better. We do not wave to strangers and say "hi" as that would be too strange and weird. But the place I visited, despite not knowing each other, they would smile and wave to us and talk to us, engage in conversations. I feel that people nowadays are moving too fast. We move in a very fast pace to become better. But we should also learn to slow down a bit, notice things that we did not notice before as we were too busy. This would make us feel happy and contented with what we have now.

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