Wednesday 12th November 2008 by C. Freeman
Students and staff from Brooke Weston visited great landmarks during a 12-day trip to China. They flew into Beijing and saw the Forbidden City, Great Wall and the iconic Bird's Nest stadium before flying to Shanghai for six nights.
There they stayed in the international division of a massive school where they slept in dormitories, attended lessons on Chinese geography and culture and mixed with students, some from other visiting British schools. They witnessed all 1300 Chinese students marching in perfect formation for the patriotic 'raising of the flag' ceremony. The Brooke Weston contingent were given an in-depth tour of Shanghai, where two Chinese students acted as tour guides for each of the British visitors, showing them the city's parks, museums and landmarks.
Sixth Former Edward Lockwood said: 'The students who took me round were called Unis and David, they knew the whole of Shanghai, its history and where to go. Shanghai is really a developing modern city with neon lights, six lane motorways, lots of traffic but surprisingly very few traffic accidents. They've got the things we've got and more advanced things like 3D television and high definition TVs that span the whole sides of a building.'
Other highlights included visiting the Shanghai World Financial Centre which, at 492 metres high, is currently the world's tallest building. Unfortunately the views from the 100th floor were obscured by fog. The Chinese hosts, Hanban, also organised cultural excursions and extravaganzas, such as an acrobatic display and an extraordinary water, light and music show.
As well as sampling stunning food, students also got the chance to barter for souvenirs in local markets. They also visited landmarks like the Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the final resting place of Chairman Mao, whose body lies in a crystal coffin inside a purpose-built mausoleum. The 14 students from Years 11 and 12 were accompanied by teachers Mr Barrett and Miss Nicholson for the 12,000-mile round trip.
Mr Barrett said: 'Everywhere we went was just fantastic. They didn't tell us what we were going to see or do; we just turned up and it happened. We had a fantastic acrobat show. When visiting the Great Wall of China you must bear in mind that it was built in the 14th century and everything was made locally. They couldn't transport materials very far, plus they had to garrison builders there and feed them; it was an amazing feat of engineering. It was a fantastic trip.'
Edward said: 'Western people are such a minority but every Chinese person was so welcoming, pleased to see us, wanted to show us everything that they could and wanted to know about our lives as well. China has grown rapidly and we learned so much about its history and culture. It's now changing and it wants to welcome the outside world. It doesn't want to keep itself contained. Shanghai is a very interesting city and it's a place everyone should get the chance to visit. We made many new friends. It was certainly the most amazing trip I've ever been on.'