Chinese Culture trip in Malaysia and Singapore
In October 2023, UCS Hampstead travelled with the Learning Adventure to Malaysia and Singapore. The group was comprised of Year 11-13 students (age 15-18) of Mandarin or Geography and led by Head of Mandarin Pia Maggioni.
We spoke to Pia after her trip to find out about her experience travelling with The Learning Adventure (TLA).
What were your motivations for taking your students on this trip?
To make their learning real. I think with Mandarin it can be trickier than with other languages they study to do this. A trip to Asia is not something they do with their parents regularly, so it’s good to have that opportunity in place for them to travel and have their learning become real.
This trip came about after a previous trip that we had organised to China was cancelled because of Covid. When we could start taking trips again that itinerary wasn’t possible, so we thought again about where we could take them. This trip kept the Mandarin focus in mind, but ending up in Malaysia and Singapore meant it was also relevant to the Geographers as well.
What were the key activities that you chose to include in your itinerary?
The Learning Adventure was very helpful because I didn’t have to come up with the activities myself. It was very helpful to have tailored activities around Chinese culture and Geography. There were things like a calligraphy lesson, trips to the Chinese quarters in Malysia and Singapore, and the Nyonya Heritage museum. These made clear the purpose of our trip to the students.
What made you choose to travel with The Learning Adventure?
I had a previously great experience with The Learning Adventure. I did my first trip to China in my first year of teaching with TLA, and that went extremely smoothly. It was a very successful trip, both from my perspective of the smooth organisation and from the students who attended that first trip – they had a great time and went on talking about it for many years after. So, I really had no doubt in reaching out when I was organising this trip because I had no reason to want anything better!
What were the top 3 highlights of the trip for your students?
The amazing food! Apart from the food, they really enjoyed the Petronas Towers, the Batu caves (especially the Geography students), the Marina Bay in Singapore was a big highlight, and the surprise Changi airport wonders!
What were your top 3 highlights as a teacher?
I loved the Batu caves! I also hadn’t quite appreciated the extent to which Chinese culture was present in Singapore and Malaysia. I loved learning more about the Peranakan culture, and visiting the Nyonya Heritage museum was eye opening. There is a whole history of migration and the mix of cultures that came as a result which we could see in food, specific clothing and types of housing.
What were your educational goals for the trip?
This was most definitely a cultural appreciation trip. It was great to have them totally immersed in the culture and that was really about the little things – it was about experiencing where people eat, seeing lots of written characters around, hearing people talk to one another, seeing the colours, the smells. It’s just an experience that they don’t get in any other way than a school trip, and it was amazing to see them experience so many things for the first time.
How did The Learning Adventure team assist you during the booking process before your trip?
There are different people for different stages, and that is managed in a very slick way – it’s always very clear about the next phase and each person knows everything about the process so far. It’s all kept to a minimum level of stress for the teacher. As teachers we also appreciate people when they respond quickly. If I’ve sent an email with a follow up question, it’s nice to have that addressed quickly, especially in the first phase of getting the trip up and running. Time is key and as a teacher you need to pass information on to SLT, then write to parents, etc. So top grades for that effective and quick communication throughout!
We understand the importance of risk assessments and health and safety for a school trip. How did you find the support for health and safety from The Learning Adventure team?
I was sent a PDF booklet of the risk assessment of the trip. It meant I didn’t have to think about the specific risks at, for example, the Petronas towers as it has been risk assessed already and put together to make life easy for me. The next step is our own school risk assessment procedure but that is made much quicker by having that detailed activity risk assessment provided. On the trip, everything also felt very safe at all times.
How did your local Adventure Leader enrich your trip?
From the teachers’ perspective it’s a stress relief, and I wouldn’t consider any trip that doesn’t have that person in place. The kids loved interacting with someone else who wasn’t their teacher and asking them lots of questions! The Adventure Leader was very knowledgeable – I could have done a lot of research about the places we were visiting, but it would have been quite a heavy toll on me as the teacher and I’d never be as good as a local person who knows all the aspects of the local culture we were exploring.
Would you book with The Learning Adventure again and why/why not?
Absolutely! This trip was very stress free from The Learning Adventure side. I’m really happy with the experience that I’ve had! I have recommended The Learning Adventure to every teacher I know. In fact, my colleagues in other language departments have already booked trips as a result. My students would really love to go to China next, but I would go anywhere with The Learning Adventure!
Explore our trips in Malaysia and Singapore as well as culture trips in a range of destinations. Remember, all of our trips are fully customisable. If you would like to speak to an educational specialist about planning a school trip then enquire now.