On March 17, eighteen students from Wuxi Xiehe International School in China journeyed to the Blue Mountains to take part in a joint Sinofield-KCC camp to experience Australia.
Their time in the Mountains began with a trip to Scenic world. The students caught their first glimpse of the three sisters and travelled over and through lush forests and towering waterfalls by cable car, skyway and railway.
On the second day, the students of Wuxi attended Blue Mountain Grammar School. They had a tour of the primary and secondary campus’ and then took lessons in music, art, design and animation.
The music teachers used recordings of songs in English, French, Italian and German to teach everyone multilingual music skills. Using a saxophone, drums and various other percussive instrument, students experimented with rhythm.
In art class, the students painted waves in shades of blue, black and white. In design, there were demonstrations and discussions of various tools that are used for woodworking. Students were able to get a close look at the machines and hear about different design techniques. In the animation class, students created short Flash animations on computers and feel different experiences.
Each evening, when the children returned to camp from Blue Mountains Grammar School, tutors sat with them and helped them write journal entries recounting the events of the day the practice their written English skills. They would then play creative games to relax after a long and busy day.
On their third day in the Mountains, students took classes in drama and science at Blue Mountain Grammar School. The drama teacher asked everyone to use body language to express a story through dance. Wuxi and BMGS classmates were divided into several groups, some performed more classical styles that were similar to ballet while other performed choreography closer to a kind of musical fight sequence.
During science class, the children split into mixed groups of BMGS and Wuxi students to make qualitative and quantitative observations on a variety of jelly snakes. Everyone was required to weigh the jelly snakes, measure their length, describe colour, shape and flexibility. They then wrote reports and drew graphs indicating their observations. In another activity, students were asked to think deeply about blackholes. Many of the students found it to be very interesting and eye-opening.
After school, the students visited the Blue Mountains Aboriginal Centre to watch an Aboriginal performance, the fall of the Blue Mountains. When the students came to Echo Point, the sky became bright and the sun set behind the rain.
The camp provided physical training for the Wuxi students. Under the guidance of the instructor, the students learned about Australian bush food and medicine, including what plants can prevent mosquito bites. Then everyone tackled the obstacle course, over the wooden bridge, up the net, over the wall, swinging on the ropes.
That evening, the students read famous Australian poems, Dorothea Mackellar's ‘My Country’, and Banjo Paterson’s ‘Mulga Bill’s Bicycle’.
It was a very tiring day, but the students unwound by making damper and enjoying a barbecue.
The children’s last day of the camp was at Sinofield in Leura. Students had the chance to learn about and create Aboriginal art and made hand-painted clap sticks to learn how Australia's traditional people used natural resources to make musical instruments and tools. Students also used instruments invented by early settlers, including the Washboard and the Lagerphone (bottle caps nailed to a stick to form a percussive instrument. The students sang the Australian children's song ‘Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gumtree’ and learned some bush dances. Students called “G’day,” a typical Australian greeting, before bidding farewell and travelling home.