Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Punahou School Visit

Punahou School Visit

Punahou school is our last and final destination for our trip to Hawaii and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. At first I thought it was going to be a boring and school with un-relatable students and teachers but the moment we stepped into class, I realized how wrong I was. The Students are very friendly here and despite being if not the most then one of the most renowned schools in O'ahu and Hawaii, it had students from all walks of life. They were a lot like us in that sense and none of them were the tops of everything and exceptional at their work but they were in fact you average students. I felt that just that alone helped me to feel much more at home in the school. 

Throughout the whole day at the school, I learnt a lot about how the American school system worked, at least at Punahou School. 

The first thing I noticed was the way english class was conducted. They used iPads as well as Hard copies of the book, A Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare, The app on the iPad allowed for a visual representation of the play, interpretation of words that are not commonly found in modern english as well as a synopsis of each Act of the story. This really helps to deepen the understanding of the students. 

Another thing I noticed throughout the day was how creative their lessons were. In Social Studies, Their assignment which they presented asked them to come up with how Jazz is related to Democracy. All the students came up with songs, raps, poems, so on so forth to express and present their ideas instead of the boring old essay. Whilst this has its advantages in training the creative side of our brains, it also requires a lot of time to be done up. 

Yet another thing I had gleaned from todays session was the fact that the students development was very holistic. They had classes that would be considered CCA's for us such as choir and swimming. This allows for there to be no need for CCA's to be compulsory and there is no need for in integration of a leaps system to try to cultivate a holistic development in a student as it is already included in the curriculum. This allows for the students to end school relatively early each day at 1400 hrs  to about 1600 hrs. It also gives students the chance to express their talent in at least one class. This then leads to Punahou's students being more engaged in class as apart from their core subjects, they are also offered a chance to study subjects that they take interest in. 

Also, the Punahou school uses the homeroom system where students move to different venues to take classes rather than the teachers moving from place to place. This has both its pros and cons. Some might feel that there is no sense of belonging to one class and there is a lack of deep bonds being formed while others argue that by using this system, a much broader network of friends is able to be made. Thus it is a challenge of Breadth vs. Depth. This system also gives the teachers time to prepare for the next lesson and thus be ready to teach upon students arrival. However some students will tend to arrive late due to venue changes or other "hindrances". This teaches the students discipline and how important it is to be connected. 

Lastly, at Punahou, students interact very differently with their teachers. They have a sense of being that more of a slightly lower subordinate rather than teacher and student, the line drawn is made thinner and this is both good and bad. It is good that teachers are able to understand the students humor and their feelings better, however this also makes it such that the teachers don't receive as much respect as they should be. Often the teacher has to make several calls to the class to get them to calm down.

Overall I believe that there are both pros and cons to both education systems, Singapore (SST) and America (Punahou) and that neither are the better of the 2. Both could learn something from each other and only then may they both become more superior. 

Day 5 and 6

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay was a very very popular hotspot for both tourists and locals in Hawaii due to its extremely beautiful beach and bay areas. Approximately 5 years ago Hanauma Bay was closed due to over tourism which affected the marine life there. Much of the marine life was being threatened due to the high human traffic. The high Human traffic resulted in pollution of the waters in turn harming the eco system in Hanauma Bay. Today it is re-opened to the public. However tour groups are only allowed to view the bay from a distance and only a maximum of 300 guests are allowed on the beach per day in an effort to keep the preserve the marine life. The east coast is a sanctuary to many animals such as the humpback whales and Sea-lions, just to name a few. This shows how Tourism can actually damage or harm the environment. It was due to the large amount of human intervention that the marine life moved away from Hanauma Bay disrupting the eco system there. However in contrast to that, Hawaii's biggest industry is in fact Tourism consisting about 70% of the state's economy. Without taking advantage of Hawaii's natural environment, to receive tourism, the state will loose a large portion of its economy and therefore cannot be eradicated completely. As such compromises such as allowing a certain amount of people in per day help to create a balance between allowing us to appreciate and enjoy nature whilst preserving it for others to enjoy and thus creating sustainability. Today many countries invest in Eco tourism as well which helps both the economy and the environment. 

Sea Life Park

The sea life park is also one of the common tourist hotspots we visited. In the sea life park, species of different marine life are preserved and also used as entertainment. There were dolphin shows, Sea-Lion enclosures and even marine birds were among the various diversity of marine life showcased at the Sea Life Park. A key point I picked up from the Sea life park was that while mainly being a tourist attraction where many come to watch the various "shows" put on by the animals such as dolphins, penguins and sea lions, they also try to do their best to educate the public about protection and preservation of the environment. At the end of each show, they will always remind the audience how to take care of the environment and how to help in the effort to reduce our harm to the environment. The sea life park even goes to the extent of having a "no straw" rule to help prevent litter from being thrown into the ocean, potentially harming the marine life. This shows the sustainability of the environment being both practice and imparted to the audiences. Tourism as such is both for enjoyment and education, resulting in a highly "sustainable" industry.

Waimea Valley 

Waimea Valley to me is more of a preservation of culture than anything else. Sure it may hold its geographical wonders and beauty but to me, its true beauty lies in the people that lived there and made their home out of it. Before entering the valley which is known to be sacred to the Hawaiians, we are to "ask for permission" to enter as a form of respect and to check our intentions for entering the valley, wether for good or bad. If good, often or according to our guide, a faint breeze will begin to pick up. This would indicate that permission is granted for entry into the land. Upon Hawaiian methods, using rocks against rocks as well as using modern chisels and such. However one thing that remains true is the rocks that he carves his works from. These rocks were gathered from water sources as "good" specimens can be found in those areas. Although that may be so, he still has to "pray" or ask for permission to take the rocks for that specific purpose. For example if he is looking for a hammer stone, he will have to pray the night before he goes hunting for it and according to him, more often than not, in doing so, you will be able to easily find the rock very quickly. 

This practice as well as many more show how much respect the Hawaiians give to their land and environment. They only take what they need and not what they want from the environment. This practice whilst being highly un-applicable to modern society in its raw state, can still be attempted. Try to take less and use less. Do not be greedy. This simple principle of not taking what you don't need will allow the environment to continue flourishing and it is through this that the environment is sustained. 

These practices and in fact this tourist attraction is an embodiment of preservation of culture. It is through places such as Waimea Valley and the Polynesian Cultural Centre that people learn about their culture and therefore it is preserved and not lost or drowned out by modern influences. Simple activities that are carried out here by the true Hawaiian people help to keep the old Hawaiian culture going even though technology today would allow for much easier lives, they choose to hold on to their roots and traditions. Keeping the diversity! 

Another interesting activity that we enjoyed here was the playing of 2 games both of which were applicable in war time. Often these games were played during the season of peace or harvest where it was understood that wars would not take place. This allowed them to practice their skills and hone them whilst having fun and relaxation. As such, they're skills at waging war would not fade or backslide so when they next went to war, they were already at the top of their game. 

Individual Reflections by Ziying

City Tour 

The city tour around this small island was an eye-opening experience which reveals the meaningfulness behind each detail behind the architectural design and the other details in the city state which reveal the interesting truths to the people. For instance, at the Washington Place, there are 3 flags hung outside, namely the Governor’s flag, the flag of the State of Hawaii, and the flag of United States. If the Governor’s flag is hung down, it means that the Governor is not in the house. If the flag of the State of Hawaii is hung down, it means that the Governor is out of the state. In addition, for the Capital State Building, it is designed in a way which show all the key features of Hawaii: being a volcanic island, being surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and so on. Hence, I think the younger generation in Singapore should continue to be educated about such meaningful buildings and landmarks in Singapore such as the status of Sir Stanford Raffles so that we will always remember our past and remain thankful for how far we have come as a nation.

Bishop Museum

At the Bishop Museum, the design of the building signifies the way the Hawaiians think: the museum consists of 3 stories and the first story signifies “ocean” by the use of a video showing the live activities taking place in the ocean as well as by the use of sharks’ models. Ocean is the way the Hawaiians think as they believe that everything originates from the ocean, let it be life forms or land forms. This architectural aspect of the museum shows the culture of the Hawaiians and which with the rest of the showcased in the museum together indicate that the Hawaiians want their culture to be sustained and passed on to the younger generation. Therefore, it is essential for such cultural centres to be present and to adapt to the changes of each generation by making the way the contents are being conveyed to the new generation more interesting so that the culture can be sustained. 

Pearl Harbor - USS Arizona Memorial

At Pearl Harbor, there is the USS Arizona Memorial which enables the Americans and tourists to remember the day of the Pearl Harbor attack.  During WW2, the Japanese army destroyed 8 battleships which were located at the Pearl Harbor as they wanted to prevent the US from interfering their conquer of Asia and also to ensure that they could conquer Asia before the US could recover from the military attack. However, this tragedy in turn united the US Citizens more deeply and fostered their determination of fighting back. This milestone of American history is then being remembered at Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial serves to sustain the painful memories of that part of the American history which ensures that the old and the young will remember the incident, the experience of the people involved and so to lead to a better future for each individual such as being more supportive towards the peace of the world.

Diamond Head

The hiking at Diamond Head was extremely enjoyable and it taught me the process is what matters the most for whatever challenge which we take on. Although the scenery at the ending point of the hiking at Diamond Head would be the most marvelous, the sceneries and beauty of Hawaii were magnificent along the way too. Thus, if we were to focus too much at the end product for any challenges we take, what we are missing out is going to be the unforgettable experience gained by the process and our own soul-purifying internal reflections. Thus, we should pace well by knowing ourselves well and to enjoy the process of the journey while achieving our ultimate goal--as the journey is the reward.

Nuuan'u Pali Lookout 

At the Nuuan'u Pali Lookout, we are able to deduce the cause for the  strong wind experienced by observing the geographical features of the location. At the poly point, the wind is pretty strong because there are 2 mountains by the side of the only avenue in the middle for the wind to escape through. It’s always good to observe the environment around us and to apply what we have observed about it  to various situations to resolve problems. For instance, the Singapore government wanted to create a natural wind flow to the areas of the Central Business District like the areas outside the Raffles MRT Station where a lot of workers will gather at and better ventilation is needed. To achieve this, efforts and much thinking were put into the urban planning stage where by the way the buildings are arranged and built in a way that more wind is allowed to flow into the areas for a cooler environment. This is an example of how we can link the learning about the nature and apply it to various situations like that of architecture. 

Polynesian Culture Centre
The Polynesian Culture Centre showcases the culture of the 6 tribes such as Hawaiian and Tahiti. The performances and activities in the centre are the measures put forward to sustain the various cultures so to prevent them from being forgotten, making them to be able to be passed down from one generation to another. Culture is one’s root of values and past and knowing one’s own culture is an act of appreciation of his ancestors for the courage for survival and defense in the past. From the exhibits and shows, it is also evident that despite the 6 tribes lived on different lands, they had languages and dances which were common with that of other cultures in one way or another. This shows that no matter what the culture is, the needs of mankind such as communication and celebration are needed to be satisfied in order to united the whole tribe and to progress and advance as a whole. 

Makapu’s Light House 

@Reflection on Sustainability of the Environment
The journey of trekking to the Makapu’s Light House was enjoyable for the greeneries, bluish skies and ocean which have been well-sustained. Coastal landforms such as shore platforms and cliffs could be seen along the journey and the view of the breathtaking waves added significance to the process of trekking. By trekking all the way to the Makapu’s Light House, I have got a chance to get a closer touch with nature and to appreciate its beauty in silence. However, all the memories would not have existed if the environment in the area were not well-sustained. In Singapore, the beach in Sentose needs to be sustained constantly due to the destructive waves which cause much erosion all the time. Hence, to ensure that the beaches at Sentosa remain as attractive tourist attractions, fine and smooth sands are to be imported from countries like Indonesia and Australia. Hence, the beaches will remain beautiful and tourism can be carried out as per normal, boosting the economy of Singapore. Therefore, this shows the importance of sustaining the environment 

@A Personal Note:
The scenery in Hawaii is always so ‘hawaii’ no matter where we go--there will always be deep blue oceans which meet endlessly with the skylines, beautiful skies which make photographs look like paintings and greenish coconut trees with no coconuts. The trekking trip to the Makapu’s Light House was an extremely enjoyable process as the scenery along the way was magnificent especially those near the Makapu’s Light House. Despite having taken many photographs and videoclips, I still feel sorry as I think I am unable to make my friends and family realise the beauty which I have witnessed through the photographs and videos. In addition, I used to dislike walking for long distances. However, this 2-hour journey of trekking seemed to be too short. Perhaps my dislike for such exercises is due to the fact that there is not such marvelous scenery along the canal in Singapore which I exercise by; or it is me that need to look out for the beauty in disguise. Anyway, I love to be at outdoors and enjoy such trips which have never fail to teach me the true meaning of “The journey is the reward!” Yes, the process of the journey will be all I’ve got and that is the reward which should be profoundly appreciated.

 Waimea Valley 

The visit to the Waimea Valley was a very thought-provoking and fruitful journey; in fact, there were so many learning points that I did not have sufficient time to think through each of them thoroughly. Anyway, I will just write them down in either the point form or in paragraphs. 

@Reasons for such cultural destinations to exist:
In today’s society, whenever we do reflections about the things around us in terms of why  they exist, we tend to think towards the aspect of what are the benefits the things can bring to our lives, making those the reasons the only reasons for their existence. However, the visit to the Waimea Valley, where has a rich Hawaiian culture and traditions weaved in the exhibits and sceneries, I have learnt that the existence of the Waimea Valley is not solely to raise the awareness of the Hawaiian culture and to bring mankind benefits like improving their quality of life, but to show appreciation to the ancestors for their brilliance in thinking of ways to survive and defend themselves in war time. Indeed, like all the other civilisations, each tribe has to think of ways to develop strategies and skills to defend themselves against their enemies after being able survive in a new island. Without the great minds of the ancestors, the new generations of people would not have existed. Thus, we should always remain thankful about our history in the past and to inherit the fighting spirit of our courageous ancestors. 

@Challenges of Sustaining the Culture
In today’s society, the advanced technology brings about convenience and speed and which make the creations of the ancestors in the past seem dull in contrast. Thus, it is becoming more challenging to educate the young and make them appreciate their past. In another words, the sustain of cultures is becoming more difficult due to the modern lifestyles and influences from other countries which may dominate the countries nowadays. However, such cultural centres or destinations are still important to be present for the people to visit and experience their past as what they help to sustain is not just the culture, but the memories and the environment too. It is crucial to sustain the cultures in the world to ensure a diversity of cultures as which enable people to be rooted to their values and also for all the civilisaitons to learn from each other and improve in one’s thinking and way of doing things. This is when mankind will advance and progress as a whole as we live on Mother Earth. 

@Learning points in point forms:
~When each civilisation or tribe settles down, after adapting and finding ways to survive in the new environment, it is always crucial to develop strategies and skills to defend themselves against their enemies.

~The creations of the ancestors were always amazing in a way which involved the application of simple laws of physics. For instance, the Hawaiians used marbles or rocks to surround their sleeping areas on the floor as which will keep them warm during cold days and allow them to stay cool during hotter days. From cases as such, I have learnt that we can always look back to our own history and to discover the brilliance of mankind and which will also enable us to understand the ways of applying the knowledge we learn in schools or from books. 

~I’ve also learnt that we should always trace back to the origins of each creation such as the Hawaiian games which we played in the Waimea Valley today. In our point of view today, those hawaiian games were simply games for entertainment. However, as we traced back to their origins such as the purposes for those games to be created, we realised that the games were meant for the men to practise and enhance their targetting and hitting skills so that they would have a higher chance of winning during war times. Hence, every creation becomes more meaningful when we are willing to discover their purposes of being made. 

~Sustainability is a really big topic which covers most of the things which enable the human race to continue to exist; let it be the environment which mankind lives in, the biodiversity which mankind interacts with and depends on, the cultures which enable cultural diversity and allow mankind to stay rooted in terms of values, and the memories of the past which mark the footsteps and milestones of mankind. In addition, I feel that each human being is responsible of spreading the influence of their own culture to raise the awareness of the world while ensuring that the cultures are passed down from one generation to another, especially in the era today whereby the cultural diversity is decreasing daily in terms of native languages and other aspects. Moreover, the insights shared by our awesome tour guide, Budde, have allowed me to pause for a moment and think about how can I make use of my hobbies and what I want to pursue as my career to help in sustaining Singapore’s culture and that of other civilisations. 

~Indeed, teachers’ main role in each nation is to raise the next generation of leaders on the land which we live in. As students, we should play our own parts and stay humble and always think of ways to pursue a higher standard of thinking and improving the spiritual richness of each individual. 

~The flowers and leaves in the valley were adorable and the skies were as clear as usual. It is simply identical to the law of attraction that what you give is what you gain: as we love our land by taking good care of them such as avoiding environmental pollutions and sustaining the biodiversity of floras and faunas,  the land and the other living things around us will return us or provide us with what we need to survive on. Hence, we are not alone as we are one on the planet Earth. 

Punahou School (Ziying)

The educational system of Punahou School is flexible and provides the students with rooms for choice and which is the main reason that the students are motivated and are so eager to learn, ask and participate. Each student has the rights to choose his own subject combinations and take up to 3 co-curriculum activities which can be changed each year for them to experience and be exposed to various fields of studies. Therefore, the students are generally well-equipped with knowledge from different fields of studies and the free school culture has allowed each student to be involved in their passionate areas of studies and activities. 

The students have to walk from a classroom to another for their lessons and no one student has the same schedule as the other due to their different interest and choice of courses. Though this system may lead to a waste of time if the students are unable to locate their classrooms or take their own time to reach the classrooms for lessons, the students are quite unlikely to do that for 2 reasons: Firstly, this system empowers the students to be responsible for themselves by checking out the locations of their classes beforehand and the fact that the learning environment is an empowered one whereby the students are responsible for themselves even if they miss any parts of the lesson due to lateness. Hence, the students are more independent and thus more willing to take charge of their academic performance. Secondly, the courses are chosen by themselves which means to say which are highly likely to be their passion for learning, thus they will tend to embrace the opportunities given and to attend the lessons punctually.

As for the lesson conducted, they are sessions which are really thought-provoking and inspiring. For instance, for the English Literature lesson which I attended today, the teacher was evidently well-prepared before the lesson despite conducting it in the form of class discussions which provokes the students to think freely in a free learning ambience. At times, the teacher would share his own theories derived and began a thought-provoking argument with the students. Moreover, in the classroom, topics regarding races and religions can be discussed freely without having any of the students to feel offended. Thus, it is evident that in the State of Hawaii where the population is mostly made up of people from different parts of Asia such as China and Japan, the students are well educated in cross-culture understanding and they are also able to remain open-minded about others’ beliefs. Hence, this is another learning point which the education system in Singapore can adopt--to cultivate the youths’ cross-culture understanding.

For the Spanish class which I attended, the students showed remarkable ability to set their own learning goals whereby they were the ones to decide what they wanted to learn for the day and the teacher would then teach them that. I think this is how learning should be like whereby the students take initiative to make requests and thirst for knowledge instead of having the teachers deciding what the students are going to be taught. 

In addition, in Punahou School, I met a brilliant Maths teacher named Mrs Field who told me that she loved to see the students practising the Maths questions during her class as she wanted her students to finish the work during the day and to get to discuss and talk to their friends. Hence, she would design her lessons in a way whereby the students would get classes regularly which allow them to practise the questions during lesson time. Also, from what I had observed, the students asked each other questions on the doubts that had and they were willingly helping each other.

Besides all the lessons, the students could also choose to attend the chapel service during the school hour and during the service, a theme such as ‘Home’ would be talked about for the students to reflect, students who were talented musicians and singers would perform for the song and those that were good speakers would prepare their speeches related to the theme. Thus, I think that the education in Punahou School is very holistic as the students attend the school for academic learning and spiritual enrichment activities in addition to the physical classes and the optional community services and workshops such as bellydance workshop, cooking classes and so on which they can sign up for based on their own willingness and passion.

Other than the service at the chapel, there was another interesting class named ‘Neighbourhood’ whereby the Ms Susan who taught Psychology in the school would have the students to sit or lie down comfortably in a circle and to have them each to write a question which was related to the theme for the day and that they would feel comfortable to answer. The topic for today was ‘Family’ and after each student had written the questions, the pieces of papers were put into a transparent jar and the students would then take turns in a circle to step forward to play Jenga before picking up a question and answer it. From this experience, I have a greater insight to the family issues faced in the families of the students and I could feel the trust of and the open-mindedness among the students as they shared with each other their answers. Also, each individual appreciated each other’s answers and the class was very relaxing and I think its purpose was to let the teacher know the students better and also to provide an avenue for the students to give vent to their frustration and other emotions in a healthy way without hurting themselves or bottling their feelings up.

In conclusion, I find the day spent at Punahou School too short and I felt that the students went to the school for learning and for fun with anticipation and cheerfulness; and I think that is how learning should be like.

Day 6, Waimea Valley

Waimea Valley was a beautiful place with an even more beautiful heritage and culture. Before we entered Waimea Valley we took something similar to an oath or stating our intention. Although superstitious, the Hawaiian gods would give us approval to enter Waimea Valley after stating our intentions (which had to be good) in the form of a breeze or a feeling of peace or calm. We also learnt how we were not allowed to remove anything from the valley and how we had to state our intent before we took anything that we really needed and not wanted. This shows that even before the concept of sustainability was brought into the picture, the Hawaiian natives were well aware that we had to use their resources wisely and took only what they needed.

During the trek up to the waterfall, we passed by plants and trees native to Hawaii, most of which are endangered. We were told about the efforts of the staff of Waimea Valley to preserve the natural vegetation. Almost all the native Hawaiian plants or Polynesian introduced plants were very useful to the Hawaiian people. The 7 (most of which endangered) species of taro plant were replanted. The taro plant grows back relatively easily after the root has been taken, the young shoot is planted again and a new taro plant grows. Although the Taro plant is sustainable it requires the efforts of humans to replant it. This once again shows the importance of sustainability.

We were also able to play some Hawaiian games which were used hone the skills of Hawaiian warriors. The conservation of these games over hundreds of years shows the sustainability of the culture and traditions of Hawaii. These traditions, although merely games, were a very important part of Hawaiian life and were preserved till today.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 5, Small circle island tour, Sea life park

During our tour around the east side of Honolulu, we touched on many geographical points. While at Hanauma Bay, we saw very distinct headlands and bays. The waves hitting the bay and the headlands were very distinct in curvature (convex from the headland and concave from the bay). The waves hitting the headlands were constructive and those hitting the bay were destructive. We also learnt how natural formations like the beach at Hanauma Bay can be conserved - big groups of tourists or people are not allowed to visit the beach and are only allowed the spend 15 minutes around the area. Also, only 300 people are allowed to the beach a day. Furthermore, people who do get the opportunity to go down to the beach are required to pay a fee of $7 and are given a talk on conservation and the regulations of the beach before being allowed to go. Hawaii takes pride in conserving its natural environment and ensures that it is preserved for future generations to enjoy like we do.

On our way to Sea Life Park, we stopped at a sea cliff where we were able to see a blowhole which was formed as a result of lava flow thousands of years ago. The blowhole was formed as a result of a lava tube where the lava was able to flow out of the volcano from that distinct hole. Today we were able to see the destructive waves cause water to rush into the blowholes (previously lava tubes) and spout from them. These are unique to Hawaii and other volcanic islands. Preserving geological formations like these would be difficult. For example, if a seawall was built, there would not be any seawater entering the blowholes or any water spouts, completely defeating the purpose and the attraction.

We also stopped by a beach where we were able to see the lava rocks. We were told by our tour guide that if we were to bring a lava rock away from Hawaii, we would be cursed. This further emphasizes the importance and significance of these would-be souvenirs to Hawaii. These lava rocks were formed many thousands of years ago and should be preserved and left alone just like the rest of the natural environment in Hawaii.

While hiking up to the lighthouse we were able to see the effect of wind erosion on the mountains. The side which the wind hit was more sharp as compared with the relatively flat surface of the other side of the mountain which did not get any wind. This relates to what we learn in the classroom whereby erosion has a great impact on the land and is a very slow process on the larger scale. The mountains were also clad with cliffs which were made from different layers of rocks thousands of years old from the lava flow. The park we hiked at had specific opening and closing hours to ensure the preservation of the natural environment.

Lastly, at Sea Life Park, we learnt about the conservation of the ocean life. We learnt how human development has resulted in the loss of countless sea life being lost. For example, animals like dolphins, otters and penguins would eat plastic, causing them to choke and die. Sharks, dolphins and large fish also occasionally get caught in large nets. Oil spills similar to the one off the Gulf of Mexico many years back result in the loss of marine animals. Conservation of marine life, most of which native to Hawaii on bigger scale is highly related to the conservation of the natural environment. We have to preserve them so future generations can enjoy beautiful scenery and magnificent animals like we do today. As a step to conserve marine life, places like Sea Life Park were erected and within, the Dolphin Cove ensures that dolphins are well taken care of. Conservation is crucial as it ensures that ancient traditions and natural wonders like the animals and natural formations in Hawaii still remain when we are gone.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Reflections by Matthew & Ilya

Bishop Museum

At the Bishop Museum, we have learnt about the importance of sustaining the environment--as we take care of the environment, it will take care of us. For instance, in the museum, an exhibit showed that the Taro plant and how Poi (the Hawaiian staple food) was made out of it. The leaves and stems are also used in weaving of baskets and creating of rope used in creation of shelter. It shows how the plant "takes care" of us humans by providing a source of food and shelter. We in turn have to take care of this plant by caring and growing it. This principle of environmental sustainability is cultivated through this process where we take care of mother earth and she provides for us. This same principle is applicable to Singapore where we make use of the many trees to provide shelters for our people in Singapore from the scorching sun. Thus, we should sustain the green environment in Singapore so that generations to come are able to live in an environment with such greeneries and the sheltering provided by the trees is an evidence of love shown by the nature around us. 

The museum also mentioned about how there were Hawaii attracted many Japanese to come and work through their sugar plantations. Initially, the first wave of immigrants were the Chinese laborers. However, after the U.S. Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 had shut off the access to Chinese workers, the industries turned to Japan. Farmers and peasants from southern Japan, having suffered a series of crop failures at home, eagerly filled the Hawai'i jobs promising comparatively high wages. Most came from the areas of Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Kumamoto. This resulted in overpopulation of Japanese in Hawaii which soon came to be a problem to the Hawaiian government. They had begun to impose laws to curb the population of Japanese. However this resulted in many conflicts and riots as the Japanese felt they were being ill-treated. Today Hawaii is comprised of 60% Japanese. This shows how we have to be careful when accepting foreign talents. Singapore accepts many foreign talents and it has begun to show stress between the singapore government and its citizens as many citizens are not getting into good universities and schools due to their foreign counterparts being superior academically. Eventually this ends up allowing foreign talent to take away the jobs that were meant for Singaporeans. If this is not handled well, it may lead to riots and strikes. 

Pearl Harbor - USS Arizona Memorial

We learned about the value of technology!
Part of the many reasons as to why Pearl Harbor fell as quick as it did was due to the radar system the Americans had at the time which took a longer time to deliver the messages to and from the highest authority. They were unable to tell if the planes they had saw on radar were Friend or Foes. The Americans were expecting their own planes to fly in from the North (california) as well and thus deemed the dots picked up on radar to be friendly rather than hostile forces. 

The crew of Pearl Harbor was given another chance to realize the impending attack when a midget submarine was shot down however the message was transferred too slowly due to the lousy communication technology back then. 

In Singapore one of our main investments are in the R&D sector (quaternary sector, good for economy as well). While this may not be specifically for military purposes, the main principle of being at the forefront of technology remains. Even me, being in the school of science of technology and the existence of this school, shows Singapore's ever-present push for technological superiority. R&D will always be a sustainable and income creating sector as technology is always improving. As the world moves forward, Singapore will be near the front to lead the pack. 

Polynesian Culture Centre

We walked around the Polynesian Cultural Centre to learn more about the different islands. Although some of the tribes were thousands of miles away from each other, they share some similarities even though they had no contact with each other. For example, the languages of almost all the tribes are very similar. However, when they did contact each other, they shared resources and knowledge among each other which helped them develop and progress. We also learnt how new animals, plants and technology were brought to the islands by the colonials. The main purpose of the Polynesian Cultural Centre was to promote understanding and to preserve the culture and heritage of the tribes of Polynesia. This promotes sustainability of heritage and culture through education of the locals, Polynesians and tourists like us. With the implementation of cultural centres like these, we are able to preserve and sustain culture.