May 30

Day 7: Fangzhou Primary School

After the normal morning routine, we were picked up by the Fangzhou Primary School driver (yes they have their own driver) and Jordan (our visiting Chinese teacher from 2017). We travelled 40 minutes to the school through thick smog and heavy traffic (every day has been thick smog and traffic!). On arrival we met the Principal, Vice Principal, Kevin (Big Hill PS student visitor 2017) and Jessica (Kangaroo Flat PS student visitor 2017). Kevin and Jess toured us through the school…we couldn’t get over their art facilities – one room for calligraphy, one for painting, one for wood/Lino cutting etc. The school specialises in The Arts and Soccer and has 3000 students.

We went to a school assembly where each of us spoke to the 3000 students. What an experience! All of the children were waving and calling out “Hello” – this continued every time we went past them in the corridors or grounds. Smiles everywhere.

We had a calligraphy painting lesson, where each of us shared a piece of paper with a Chinese Student. One person worked on the right and the other on the left…together we created a traditional picture of a Tongli Watertown Village. At the end we both signed the art…and have it ready to bring home. From here we went into a class with Jeffery and Ada – where we learnt about Chinese Festivals and then made rice dumplings (paper versions). These came up a treat!

Before leaving we had lunch with the Principal, Assistant Principal and English speaking staff who had visited Big Hill (Sabrina 2014, Jordan 2017). The meals were in trays (like you see in American schools or prisons) and the food was quite nice! There were also real rice dumplings in the middle of the table (sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves and tied with twine in the shape of a triangular based pyramid). Matt couldn’t believe that there were crystal chandeliers in the Principals Banquet Room!

We farewelled Fangzhou for the day and headed back to the hotel. We changed quickly and Ciana headed off with Ada, Lachie with Kevin (Kangaroo Flat visitor 2017), Charli with Jeffrey and Abi with Alice for the night. Lach was impressed with the New Mercedes he had to leave the hotel in 🙂 One student actually left in a red Ferrari!

The 4 Big Hill students enjoyed the afternoon and evening with their host families. Activities some experienced were: cruising Jingi Lake, ice skating, shopping at a large Chinese shopping mall, dressing in Chinese gowns, eating out at a restaurant, walking famous Suzhou streets and much more. Matt still went with the teachers and students of other schools not doing Homestay – visiting The Humble Administrator’s Garden…a beautiful Chinese garden with ponds, plants, rockeries and buildings. Matt has had an important dinner with the Suzhou Industrial Park Principals and Bureau to discuss the success of the trip and plan for future years.