Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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.

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