On the 25th of May, a group of 30 Trinity football students set off from the Trinity Lutheran College bus stop at 5am, bound for the city of Chengdu in Central China. After a long day of travelling including a stopover in Singapore Airport, we arrived in the beautiful city of Chengdu where we were warmly greeted by our lovely tour guides, who we all grew very close to during the course of the tour.
We visited four different schools and were met each time with enthusiastic and friendly greetings that far exceeded our expectations. The students and teachers were so kind, eagerly inviting us into their school and sharing their culture with us. Both the girls' and boys' teams played two friendly games each against these schools. It was definitely tough competition; the Chinese students train twice a day, five days a week, which obviously proves why they won!
Each day included many different highlights and adventures:
We arose bright and early to a delicious buffet of a mixture of western and Chinese food. After breakfast we visited Chengdu museum where we learned about the history of Chengdu, and had our first traditional Chinese lunch that included duck, bok choy, rice, a range of bamboo soup. For some, it was a welcome surprise, for others, a bit of a culture shock. We then visited Jinli Street and Kuan and Zhai Alley where we shopped around the ancient Chinese markets.
This was our first day visiting a Chinese school via a bus ride to Chengdu Tanghu Middle School. The welcome we received included a red carpet with hundreds of students waving flags, greeting us with their national animal, the panda, which surpassed all expectations. The girls got ready for their first game and we were literally stunned by our opponents amazing skills, conceding a defeat of 7-1. After the match, we were invited to visit the dormitories the students reside in for the term. You would be surprised that 6 students are able to live in such a small space! We then went to a cultural experience which was traditional Chinese papercutting, where we learned how to create many beautiful patterns and designs. In the evening we went to watch the Panda Cup, Thailand vs. China.
The boys' first game was against the no.1 school in West China, Chengdu No.7 Middle School. The students and teachers were keen to show off their magnificent school and gave us lessons in calligraphy, traditional art classes and martial arts, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. The boys then played an intense game against the host students which they unfortunately lost 6-0.
The girls had their second match against Wenjiang Middle School in weather that was rather bleak and cold. More confident as a team, the girls played a much better game, but unfortunately, the Wenjiang Middle School girls were just too good, and we lost 7-2. That afternoon we participated in some traditional Chinese music classes where we learned ancient opera and ethnic dancing. An experience we will remember for a long time to come.
After checking out from our hotel in the city, we travelled to Dujiangyan, a more rural town. We visited the Dujiangyan Irrigation system, an amazing architectural structure that was built thousands of years ago. We then went shopping in some more ancient markets.
Our final school visit of the tour was to Puyang Middle School. Whilst we were there, we were bombarded by Chinese students wanting pictures as well as our autographs. At the school we had calligraphy and seal carving experiences. The boys played their final game, a very close and heated match, which they unfortunately lost 4-3.
A much anticipated highlight of the trip for many was our visit to Panda Valley, where we got to see live pandas up close. They are magnificent creatures that looked almost fake, as we had only ever previously seen them in pictures and movies. We then got to participate in a traditional experience of jasmine tea picking, a great cultural experience.
These experiences are ones that we will never forget; from the really great ones like seeing real pandas, to the not so good ones like using the infamous squat toilets. This trip was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we will all remember forever. We all bonded as a group and supported each other along the way. We would like to thank all teachers who took time out of their busy lives to accompany us. We are all very excited to see the Chinese students again when they visit Australia later in the year.
By Misha Schofield, Tabitha McCallum and Dhruvi Patel