Monthly Archives: January 2017

Day 12: Making new friends & market shopping

After enjoying lunch at different restaurants around the school with their hosts, the Porter’s girls attended three more classes before having to say goodbye to their new friends. Even though we only spent one day at DGS, the girls made strong connections with their hosts. The experience was enriching and broadened their knowledge of school culture and curriculums in China/Hong Kong.

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After school, we took a walk up Kowloon’s largest main road, Nathan Street, towards the “Ladies Market” shopping area. The Porter’s girls practiced their bargaining skills on the 1-kilometer market with over 100 stalls of bargain clothing, accessories and souvenirs.

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After two hours of shopping, we ate a a local restaurant near our hotel that had delicious noodle and rice dishes, as well as some other unique options!

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As we pack our bags for our trip home tomorrow, we are all very grateful for this experience. With some sunshine in the forecast, we will take one last stroll around Kowloon before leaving for the airport midday. See you soon, Farmington!

Day 12: Shadow day at DGS

On our last full day in China (Hong Kong), our location at the Eaton Hotel allowed for an easy walk to the Diocesan School for Girls (DGS). Upon arrival, our girls met their individual host students in a small lecture hall and we were then led into an auditorium which accommodates their entire student body of about a thousand students.

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On stage, there was a speaker’s podium and two rows of seats for the “Student Prefects.” Joining them in the front row of seats on stage were Kayley Gibbons and Naya Lipkens who were scheduled to make a power point presentation and show a short “drone video,” on Porter’s. After a few announcements by DGS’ Deputy Principal, Director of Religious Studies led the school in singing a hymn, followed by a biblical reading. Speaking in Cantonese, two students then made an announcement about an upcoming debate competition with their brother school. Throughout the meeting, power point images were projected on the screen behind the speakers in English and then Cantonese. Naya and Kayley did a great job with their presentation. They were well prepared and they spoke in a clear, calm, and confident manner.

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As the students filed off to classes, the Porter’s contingent met in the library where we were broken into small groups for student-led campus tours. This provided the students with an opportunity to ask questions and compare curricular and extracurricular programs between Porter’s and DGS.

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Following the tea, the girls shadowed their host student to their regularly scheduled class, followed by a tea with the Deputy Vice Principal, Mr. Oddie.

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The girls went to one more class with their hosts before heading to lunch. This afternoon they will sit in on two more classes before saying farewell to our DGS hosts.

Day 11: The Peak, Shopping, and Tea!

Today we had our first breakfast at Kowloon’s Eaton Hotel. It was the same type of buffet-style setup, but a bit more Western-oriented than the previous hotels in China. Though raining lightly, we decided to proceed as planned to the Peak Tram despite the potential for less-than-ideal weather and limited visibility. It turned out to be the right decision.

IMG_6711 IMG_6712 IMG_6714 IMG_6715 Constructed in the 1880s, the tram is a relic of British colonial rule.  About a ten-minute ride to the top, it climbs a surprisingly steep grade, made obvious by the angle of the buildings in the near distance. At the top, there is a huge complex which includes an extensive shopping mall, and spectacular views of the Hong Kong business district below, as well as the surrounding lush green hills.  Breaking up into groups according to interest, we agreed to a meeting place where we would get together after time for exploration and/or shopping. IMG_6717  IMG_6722 IMG_6723 IMG_6725 IMG_6726 IMG_6727 IMG_6728 IMG_6729  IMG_6774 IMG_6776 IMG_6777  IMG_6780 IMG_6781 IMG_6782 IMG_6783 IMG_6785

After lunch in one of the Peak’s Cantonese restaurants, we were grateful for the tram’s braking system as we headed back down the steep wooded incline.

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In the afternoon, we enjoyed a spectacular bus ride along Hong Kong’s southern coast which features spectacular shoreline geography, beautiful beaches, and high-rise condominiums. Our destination was the “Manhattan” where Moka Quinlan (Parent of Aisling ’17) hosted a lovely reception for our current students (+ Wendy from SFLS!), ancients Maria So (’95) & May Sim (’99), Cynthia Lau (Parent of Martine Ma ’17), and prospective students, Wendy, Jenny, Rachel, and Michelle, and Teagan Quinlan & friend Eleanor. It was a fun and rewarding time for all, complete with delicious sandwiches, drinks, and pastries (adorned with tiny daises!). Our girls we excited to share new and old traditions with ancients & potential new classmates!

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After some short R&R, we grabbed some dinner at our new favorite restaurant chain across the street from our hotel. We are turning in early for the night to get some sleep before school tomorrow at Diocesan Girls School tomorrow.

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Day 10: We made it to Hong Kong!

After a final breakfast at the Shenzhenair hotel this morning, we boarded the bus for the Hong Kong Border area. Stopping on the Shenzhen side of the border, we disembarked and began the queuing up with the countless other people heading into Hong Kong on this Saturday morning. Having cleared the Hong Kong checkpoints, we hopped on the metro to take us into Kowloon, the mainland portion of the Hong Kong Special Administrative region.

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After a bit of confusion over the location of our hotel, we arrived at the Eaton Hotel where we dropped our bags before heading out to convert our remaining Chinese RMB into Hong Kong currency; we also found a nearby Chinese restaurant where Ling could try out his Cantonese while the rest of us could get a sense for the local food and culture, fighting our exhaustion from the morning border crossing.

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Using public transport again, we took a city bus to the Hong Kong History Museum. Breaking up into groups of two to four students, the students spread out through the museum with each group going to the exhibits of greatest interest. While the museum exhibits covered the history of the region from its earliest days, some of the students focused particular attention on the exhibits on the mid- nineteenth century Opium Wars, and the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong during WW II. But whatever the era, the students gained an appreciation for the rich, varied, and complex history of the region.

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One of the great things about being in Hong Kong is to walk the streets and take in the sights and sounds of the city. That we did, jostling among the crowded city streets from the history museum to the hotel. By the time we arrived at the hotel, our rooms were ready for occupancy. After a brief respite, we hit the crowded streets again walking in the general direction of the Ferry Pier, but stopping midway at a restaurant for dinner.

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With little time to spare, Ling led us in a brisk pace to the Star Ferry dock where we enjoyed a cruise in Victoria Harbor between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island and the “Symphony of Lights” over the Hong Kong side of the harbor. Though we dressed for cool weather and wind, instead we enjoyed a beautiful evening and a great way to acquaint ourselves with the geography of the region.

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Tomorrow morning, we will get another perspective of the region when we take the tram to the highest point on the Island of Hong Kong.

Day 9: Shenzhen Museum, Huawei visit & our farewell dinner

After a bit of a sleep-in this morning, we headed off to the Shenzhen museum in the heart of the business district. Upon entering the museum, there is an expansive model of the Shenzhen metropolitan area that takes up the entire first floor.  IMG_6539

After walking the length of this topographic model and identifying the location of SFLS relative to the business district etc., we began our tour of the museum starting with the exhibit on Deng Xiao Ping’s  “reform era” –the development of the Special Economic Zones and the city of Shenzhen. This was a meticulously detailed history of the Reform Era right up to the present, ending with huge flat screen video of current President Xi Jinping visiting Shenzhen. Also on the top floor, there was an exhibit on the Mao Zedong Era. Being careful not to overtly criticize the “Great Helmsman,” the exhibit narrative nonetheless made it clear that Deng’s reforms were a necessary cure for Mao’s excesses.

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Having started on the top floor, we then descended in small groups through the exhibits on the lower floors. This included displays on the ancient history, the folk cultures, and ethnic composition of the region.

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After leaving the museum, we had some “free time” for shopping and lunch before arriving at the high tech company, Huawei which is reputedly one of the most successful corporations in China.

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We were given a guided tour through an expansive showroom featuring all sorts of innovations in wireless technology, data-storage & video capabilities. The tour ended with the group dividing in two parts, entering different rooms, and having a video conference in which we found ourselves looking at a life-size image of our counterparts in the other room as if sitting across from us.

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The day ended with the Farewell Dinner at a Mongolian-themed restaurant which included FSLS hosts and their families. There was a musical performance by costumed musicians and chain dancing around the room that excluded no one.

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At one point, the Porter’s faculty, Alan and Kat, were called up to make the requisite ceremonial cuts across the carcass of a roasted lamb to which we toasted in ritual fashion.

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The night ended with a lot of picture taking (one of the whole group), some sad goodbyes, and much appreciation for a wonderful experience in Shenzhen.  Tomorrow, we are crossing the border into Hong Kong.

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Day 8: Opium War Musem

This morning, we met at the ground floor restaurant for a buffet style breakfast. By 8 AM we on the road for the one and a half hour drive to Dongguan, in the Western portion of Guangdong Province to visit the Opium War Museum. Along the way, we saw numerous factories and dormitories for the migrant labor which makes up the vast majority of the local population.

Once we reached the Dongguan city limits, we repeatedly faced the prospect that exceeded the maximum height requirements for some of the roads so that we finally decided to disembark and walk the final mile to the museum. Not only did this provide some much needed exercise, but it also allowed us to pass through neighborhoods with plenty of local color.

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Once through the gates of the museum we were immediately greeted by the statue of Commissioner Lin Zexu, the Ching Dynasty official tasked with putting a halt to the Opium trade.  Off to the side were the shallow pools where the confiscated opium was dissolved setting off the Opium War.

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In the museum, the girls learned about the restrictive Canton trade system, the role of the Hong Merchants, and the impact of opium of the political and social fabric of China. It was also interesting to see how the Communist government chose to explain this turning point in world history when power took a definitive shift from a long era of Chinese supremacy to “one hundred years of humiliation’ when China fell victim to Western imperialism. Before leaving the museum grounds, we visited an exhibit on the history of the local village, and paid our respects at a local Buddhist shrine.

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To reach the bus, we retraced our steps through the surrounding neighborhoods and then drove off in search of a restaurant. Due to a general aversion to fast food, we ended up at a rather trendy coffee shop which featured a young rather hip group of employees and projected music videos on an overhead screen. But while the atmosphere was entertaining and the lattes quite good, the food service was extremely slow. By the time we got out of there two and a half hours later, the idea of driving another two hours to Shamian Island was no longer popular, so we opted for the one and a half hour drive back into Shenzhen, some free time (with bubble tea, of course!), and an early evening before our last full day in Shenzhen tomorrow.

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Day 7: Hi-tech visits and dinner with Porter’s parents

The girls came down for breakfast this morning with their bags packed and ready to check out of the Airland Hotel. After breakfast, we boarded a bus for the downtown area, a technological and entrepreneurial hub, or as one person put it, the virtual “Silicon Valley” of China.  First stop was a company by the name of Appotronics, which specializes in cutting edge visual media. We were ushered into a number of rooms with mind-blowing audio-visual displays. These included the latest in projection, graphic design, and 3 D technology. Kat was particularly impressed with a super compact projector which could be utilized for admissions travel purposes. The girls asked a lot of great questions about the company and the whole financial/entrepreneurial environment of Shenzhen.

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After that, it was onto a company called A-8 where we were joined by Cathy Luo P’16, and Claire Ji’s father and Susan Zheng’s mother.  A8 New Media Group Limited is an integrated digital music company. It sources music content from its own interactive internet platform and from international and domestic record labels. The Group promotes music content through wireless networks of mobile operators and on the internet. The girls toured what is called the “A-8 Live” studio that has a concert hall, a recording studio, and lounges for music-lovers. They had a dance party and Hannah and Kayley even recorded a Taylor Swift song in the student. (Is this the beginning of a new career??)

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We then checked into our new downtown accommodations, the Shenzhenhair International Hotel from which Cathy Luo P’16 and the mothers of  current Porter’s freshmen, Susan Zheng and Freya Ou, led the girls on a “bubble Tea” excursion to the mall across from our hotel.

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We were later joined at the hotel restaurant by a number of Porter’s Parents and friends of school where we had another wonderful meal followed by an exchange of presents and a series of group pictures.

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