China 2011

Categories: School News School Trips

On 9th October, Mr Dearie (Art Department) and Mrs Martin (Library) set off for China, to participate in a two-week language and cultural immersion course as part of a group of 23 teachers from all over Scotland. The course was organised by Learning and Teaching Scotland Confucius Institute and the Chinese cultural organisation Hanban, and was aimed at staff involved in the Confucius Hub project, which is based in local authority areas throughout Scotland. The aim of this project is to increase interest in Scotland in the Chinese language and culture, and the Hub schools, of which St Ninian’s is one, hold large collections of materials on these subjects.

The group was based at the Tianjin Experimental High School. The city of Tianjin has a population of about 12 million, and the school has around 4000 pupils, so everything was on a larger scale! The school campus is very impressive with a large fountain in the front courtyard, and various statues of famous former students dotted around. The sight of the entire school out in the playing field and courtyards, all doing their morning exercises to the accompaniment of commands and music through the loudspeakers, was also very impressive! Further information about the school can be found at

The course included lessons in Chinese characters and Pinyin, as well as poetry, songs and tai chi, and traditional Chinese crafts such as calligraphy, painting, knotting and paper-cutting. Lessons started at 8.30am and finished at 5.30pm – this might seem like a long school day but the Chinese students were in classes for even longer, and those in their third year, who had important exams, had to come in for classes on Saturdays! All the Chinese teachers were very patient with their Scottish pupils, as they struggled to master the various skills.

However, not all the time was filled with classes – trips were arranged to local places of interest, such as the traditional courtyard house of the Shi family, the Ancient Culture Street, an artists’ studio, a tea ceremony, an evening river cruise and a visit to the Tianjin Planning Exhibition Hall, which laid out the city’s plans for future development on a truly epic scale.

The highlights of the excursions were undoubtedly the two day trips, one to the Great Wall, and the other to Beijing. Both days were blessed with clear sunny weather. The Great Wall stunned everyone into silence – there were very few other tourists at the part visited by the Scottish group, and it was a rare opportunity to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World in perfect conditions. In Beijing, the group visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, and attempted to haggle for bargains at the Silk Market.

The trip was rounded off by the closing ceremony, at which the Scottish teachers put on a display to showcase some of the skills learned in the classes. A few Scottish items were also added, the last of which was a rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’. This was a fitting end to the hugely informative and enjoyable course – the Chinese have a version of the same song, and the last chorus was sung in Mandarin, so everyone could join in together.