Eunoia GO

Eunoia GO – A documentation of the 2018 BSP Chongqing-Chengdu immersion trip

Led by 4 teachers, 35 Eunoians in the Bicultural Studies Programme (BSP) embarked on a 12-day immersion programme to Chongqing, China on 24th November 2018. This immersion programme is an enriching one, comprising enterprise visits, interactions with locals in schools and communities, city explorations and many learning opportunities. By having first-hand experiences of local life, we had a more comprehensive understanding of the local customs in China. 

Day 1: Beginning of a wonderful journey 

After a 5 hour flight, we finally arrived at Chongqing. Filled with anticipation and curiosity, everyone was excited as we headed to our first attraction – Chongqing Hongya Cave. As we departed from the airport, we saw the bustling nightlife and beautiful city lights of Chongqing from the windows of the bus. I was mesmerised by the numerous high-rise buildings and bridges that were well-lit by neon lights. The traditional Ba-yu architecture of the Hongya Cave caught our attention too. It is said that this is one of the places that the anime Spirited Away took inspiration from. I immersed myself in the lively atmosphere, surrounded by people everywhere; we could also see a whole variety of stalls on the streets, stall owners selling local specialties and mala skewers, “spicing up” our first impressions of Chongqing as we concluded our first day.

Day 2: Dazu Rock Carvings

We visited Dazu Rock Carvings– which is categorised as an AAAAA-level tourist attraction– and admired the spectacular Buddhist culture of the Song Dynasty. As we listened to the guide’s explanation, we realised that this attraction was truly fascinating: every Buddha sculpture was extremely detailed. We were impressed by the effort put in by those who managed to carefully carve these sculptures 800 years ago. What shocked us more was that when placed together in a gallery style, the sculptures of Dazu Rock Carvings told a full story, which displayed the faith people had towards their religion. From the story, we also learnt the importance of filial piety, and to always be thankful for what we have.

Day 3: The charm of Chongqing

After breakfast, we got to experience the transport system in Chongqing by taking the Chongqing Rail Transit to the well-known Liziba Station where the trains travel right through a housing block. Although we have seen such videos online before, being able to witness it in real life was a totally different experience. Chongqing is located in an area with many mountain ranges, making it a challenge to construct a developed rail transit system. Liziba Station is proof of the great planning and wisdom behind Chongqing’s rail transit system– one that is worth learning from!

In the afternoon, we paid a visit to Raffles City Chongqing in Chaotianmen (built and run by CapitaLand), where the person-in-charge introduced the features and meaning behind this project to us. Chaotianmen square was once a port used to welcome imperial edicts, hence carried great historical importance, and it is now located in a prime area in today’s Chongqing. The fact that this location is being used for the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, a priority demonstration project between China and Singapore, demonstrates the close ties between the two countries. We then proceeded to Changan Automobile Factory (one of China’s state-owned enterprises), and observed how the factory manufactured cars, as well as learnt more about state-owned enterprises. As dusk fell, we visited BreadTalk at Chongqing’s Shin Kong Place, and immediately felt closer to home at the sight of a familiar Singapore brand. The wide variety of bread and pastries had us uncontrollably buying a few to taste –and they were delicious, even though many of the bread sold in Chongqing were different from the ones in Singapore. The bakery had found ingenious ways to integrate Chongqing’s food cultures into the bread, creating interesting and unique local flavors.

Day 4

Chongqing No.8 Middle School has a history of 80 years, and is a very well-known school in Chongqing. We were given a guided tour of the school’s newest campus, the Yubei campus, by enthusiastic teachers and students. One could really tell China’s emphasis on education and their efforts towards grooming the students. During our tour in Chongqing No.8 Middle School’s archives,  the teacher placed great emphasis on the school motto “Nurturing talents”. This showed how much the school valued the students’ conduct and behaviour, and I believe that their achievements today must be closely related to the way they firmly enforce their founder’s ideals. 

Chongqing No.8 Middle School arranged enriching lessons for us, ranging from a fun Wushu lesson to a tie-dye workshop where we handmade our own tie-dye products. We also participated in the community service activities, where we visited a nearby old-folks home with the students of Chongqing No.8 Middle School. Each of our groups prepared a performance item for this visit to show our spirit of giving back to society. The elderlys there were really friendly, and were  excited to know  that we were students from overseas. They were more than willing to share their experiences with us. This was the first time we did volunteer work overseas, and even though our interaction with them lasted for only a few short hours, it was really an unforgettable experience.

Day 5: Goodbye Chongqing

The visit to the Three Gorges Museum allowed me to understand the historical landscape of the Three Gorges and the importance of Yangtze toward Chongqing’s development. Chongqing was the temporary capital of China during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and it became an important anti-fascist city. Chongqing’s geographical location also brought about development in the city during post-war times, causing it to be one of the major cities in China today.  

Thereafter, we visited Zhou Jun Ji, a private enterprise in China famous for its steamboat seasoning. We learnt more about their manufacturing process and bought some of their products afterwards. Through this visit, we also learnt about the challenges these private enterprises face and their respective development in China.

In the evening, we concluded our time in Chongqing and boarded the high-speed rail to Chengdu. The rapid advancement of the high-speed rail and its well-developed system has brought great convenience to the people and allowed China’s economy to flourish as it links up the various major cities in China. We spent the first night in Chengdu in a communist-themed hotel, which was designed based on the Mao Zedong era. As the hotel was located on the outskirts of Chengdu, the lack of facilities affected our quality of rest, but I guess this was a rare opportunity for us to experience a different kind of lodging.

Day 6: Travelling across China

Early in the morning, we first visited Liu’s Manor and Anren Town. Through these historical buildings, we learnt about life back in the olden days and the cultural history behind them. Afterwards, we visited the Jianchuan Museum Cluster where we visited museums with different themes. For example, we learnt about the days when the Nationalist Party and Communist Party battled against Japan together, the hardships they went through as they worked together and the times when they fought against each other. Each museum allowed us to gain new insights of the history of different periods in China’s modern times.

Day 7: Singaporeans in Chengdu

We were very fortunate to have a chance to visit the Consulate General of the Republic of Singapore in Chengdu and learn from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officers. They shared about the future development and opportunities in China’s West region and also the collaboration between Singapore and China. The experiences they shared about their work as MFA officers greatly benefited everyone.

Following up, we also visited Raffles’ City under Chengdu’s CapitaLand. We received a very warm welcome from the project manager as he brought us around and introduced to us the way of management and their ideals. He also shared about the knowledge he has gained in China. Afterwards, we had dinner with fellow Singaporeans who were either working or starting a business in Chengdu. They shared about their life in China and work experiences, giving us lots of advice and allowing us to understand the development of China from different points of views.

Day 8: Exploring the city map

We finally had the long-awaited city exploration activity! We needed to explore the local way of living in groups in the form of group competition. I found this learning experience especially interesting as it allowed us to thoroughly explore the city and understand how life there was really like. We had many opportunities to interact with the locals to learn more about Chengdu culture from their perspectives as we moved through the city to complete our tasks. During the exploration, each group tried their best in order to win and the competitiveness made the entire process exciting and fun. It was definitely a memorable learning experience.

Day 9: Crossing mountains and rivers

Our stamina was really put to test on this day of climbing and trekking, but everyone still had a blast! We first visited the majestic looking Dujiangyan Irrigation System, understanding its importance to the entire Chengdu’s irrigation system. The knowledge and wisdom of people from thousands of years ago was truly remarkable.

We also went to Mount Qingcheng to learn about its history and religious cultural value. Mount Qingcheng is one of Chinese Taoism’s places of origin and this famous Taoism mountain is said to be highly valued by all dynasties. It was a pity that it drizzled that day. Even though everyone persevered through and climbed to the top of the mountain, it left some regrets in us as we were unable to fully admire the scenery and pay tribute to Taoist deities. But this was made up by the Sichuan Opera show later that night, which was simply incredible! Enjoying and appreciating all the talented performances with the locals allowed us to experience how life is like living in Sichuan.

Day 10: National Treasure

We definitely cannot miss visiting pandas when we visit Chengdu, which is the home of this “national treasure” of China! Our anticipation grew as we approached this day listed on our itinerary, and we were bursting with excitement when we finally saw those cute pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Pandas. After watching the way the cute pandas laze around, everyone could not help but fall in love with them. All of us had a blast there!

Moving on, we paid a visit to ByteDance, the company that founded TopBuzz and TikTok. We learnt about the strategies they use to develop different applications and also the development of digital media in China. I found out that many China corporates are now focusing on their development in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and that innovation and continuous research in the age of digital media will be the new main driving force for China’s future development. This is definitely worth our attention and we can learn more about it.

Day 11: School Exchange

On our second last day of the trip, we went to Chengdu’s LongQuan No. 2 Middle School and interacted with their teachers and students. Once we stepped into the campus ground, we immediately felt the warm welcome extended by the school members. Afterwards, we joined the students in paper cutting class and martial arts class. We joined the school’s international class students, who were studying one foreign language (Korean, Russian, Italian and French), along with the two languages they are already learning in school – Chinese and English. They were all trilingual, and we were extremely impressed! LongQuan No. 2 Middle School is an arts and sports school, hence students were given many opportunities to develop in their co-curricular activities. The students were all talented, passionate and proactive, and we befriended one another in no time at all!

In the afternoon, we went to Chengdu’s University of Electronic Science and Technology and visited their museum, innovation centre and library, where there was a virtual reality (VR) gaming area. The library used a face identification system that was used in China’s skynet programme to grant entry to visitors. After learning more about it, we realised that China is already very developed in the technology of scientific face identification. This allowed us to have a much better understanding about China’s development in areas of electronic science and AI.

Day 12: Farewell

On the last day of our trip, we visited Wuhou Temple and Jinli Street to learn about the historical importance of Chengdu in the Capital of Shu Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms period. Wuhou Temple was built to commemorate the bright and intelligent Zhu Ge Liang. We also went to the Thatched Cottage of Du Fu, immersing ourselves in the local cultural atmosphere and also its local flavour. Ms Lan, our tour guide, explained about spring festival couplets to let us understand more in-depth about the ancient purpose from those Chinese words.

It seemed only befitting that it started to drizzle on our final day in China; gusts of wind blew past and autumn leaves scattered on the ground. Everyone was busy taking pictures and doing some last minute shopping. Even though we were filled with reluctance to leave, we still felt immensely blessed to have had this rare opportunity of participating in our last bicultural overseas trip. Over the past 12 days, we gained much more knowledge about China’s development in different areas, as well as formed new perspectives on the Singaporean culture and what it means to be Singaporean. Thank you to the 4 teachers for taking care of us, helping us to plan our schedule, preparing information and leading our daily reflection activity. I am grateful for everyone’s participation and forming wonderful memories together!

Translated by Lee Hui En 李卉蒽 (20-I4)
and Quek Zhi Jun 郭芷君 (20-A6)


诺雅行天下 ——记2018双文化重庆成都学习浸濡之旅


第一天 启程

经过五个小时的飞行之后,我们的飞机终于到达重庆,带着期待与好奇,大家兴奋地踏上了旅程的第一个景点 —— 洪崖洞。从机场到洪崖洞,我们在巴士上看到了重庆市繁华、绚丽的夜景:随处可见的高楼大厦和跨越两江的一座座大桥被霓虹灯装饰得梦幻无比,令我感到十分震撼。而洪崖洞独特的巴渝传统建筑特色外观也十分迷人,这里据说也是日本动漫千与千寻的取景地之一。而置身其中,你会发现四周人山人海,热闹极了,而且到处都能见到不同的摊位正在摆卖重庆土产和道地的麻辣串,就这样我们在扑面而来的重庆味道中,度过了我们这次旅行的第一个夜晚。

第二天 大足石刻

我们到了中国 5A级的旅游景点——大足石刻,欣赏了宋代时期壮观的佛教文化。通过讲解员的解说,我们了解了大足石刻的魅力所在:这里每一尊佛像的雕刻十分精致,让我们惊叹800年前人们的伟大,竟能在高山在如此细心的雕刻。而更令人叹服的是大足石刻通过回廊式的雕刻群构成了一个完整的故事体系,显示了人们对他们宗教的信仰。我们也从雕刻的故事中意识到了孝顺父母的重要性,也懂得要继续积德感恩现在所拥有的一切。

第三天  重庆城市魅力






第五天 再见重庆




第六天 穿越民国


第七天  新加坡人在成都



第八天 城市地图探索


第九天  跋山涉水

今天的整个行程非常考验我们的体力,全程又爬山又走路, 但大家还是玩得很高兴。我们首先见证了壮观的都江堰工程,了解了都江堰对整个成都市的水系统的重要意义,古人千年之前的智慧实在令人佩服。


第十天  国宝



第十一天  学校参访



第十二天  惜别




作者:姚文轩 (18-A1)



祖哈克 祖齐弗里:恻隐之心 人皆有之(如何与贫困人士交流)

“The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn’t indicate or promise, and which the other kind of eye couldn’t detect.” Mark Twain

一般人只看得见事物的表面,并且会以此判断一个人或一件事。但是,拥有恻隐之心的人却能看透一个人的心灵,可以看见外表以外的东西,而这是一般人做不到的。—— 马克吐温

In recent times, the invisible, marginalised poor have been revealed to Singapore. Their realities are removed from idealised visions of a first-world utopia some of us hold to. Mark Twain talks about the “seeing eyes”, a sight that is able to read “the heart and the soul.” In this essay, I want to focus on how we can manifest compassion by adopting Twain’s formulation of sight-as-interaction. In particular, I wish to discuss a subtle variety of compassion in interactions with those who are not well-off. Through this act of “seeing”, I hope that we can cultivate an understanding of the underprivileged “other”. To me, this is integral to not just the cultivation of a more compassionate home, but to the notion of seeing things with clarity. 


Sometimes, we may find ourselves in a group with others who

may not share the same level of privilege. You might unintentionally slide into a discussion about a luxury which others do not have the chance to enjoy. Perhaps it’s the trip you had over the vacation, or some really delicious food at that new cafe in town. It could also be complaints — how your salary is not enough for you to get that handbag, or how your parents should be increasing your allowance. 

有时候,我们可能会和与我们相比之下较为贫困的人来往。你可能会不经意分享自己的假期旅行,或者分享自己去城市里新开张的咖啡厅时品尝到的美食—— 而这些对有些人来说可能是遥不可及的奢侈。你可能也会不经意发牢骚,如自己的薪水不够买自己想要的包包,或者是父母应该多给你一些零用钱之类的。

Be aware of the silent one, or the one who smiles awkwardly, or the one who brushes it off by saying “oh it is alright!” or “I am fine, please don’t worry about it.” It is not simply about everyone sharing the same experience. Instead, the lack of access to these experiences due to their unaffordability can exclude someone from the experience itself. These things are not necessarily limited to material pleasures. It could be having parents who are still married to one another, or having family members who care for you, or having a place to return to at the end of a long and difficult day.


We should always be mindful that others may not come from the same background as ourselves. This may seem like common sense, but common sense may not be so common when we fall into the habits of the everyday cultures in which we find ourselves. This cannot be an excuse to be complacent or to dismiss it. Rather, we can cultivate this awareness, which will only grow in strength. If you can do simple mental sums, then you can surely do this. 


So you’ve realised you’ve entered a conversation that is not inclusive. What do you do? Change the topic. Change it to something which everyone can participate in. It is not so difficult. But don’t make the situation awkward, especially for the individual. This might happen if you give others looks or abruptly stop the conversation. Instead, opt to turn the conversation away and enter a new realm of discussion as naturally as possible — sometimes, the kindest acts of conversations simply begin with “Can we talk about something else?”. 


Don’t apologise to the individual. Apologising just makes things worse because you indirectly single them out as a “problem.” Ironically, it contributes to a sense of alienation for those individuals. There is a place for apologies but this immediate situation is not one of them. Rather, a more gracious thing to do is to apologise personally after the whole thing. 


You might also know a person who is not well-off, to whom you would love to give a treat. This is a nice thing to do. But even in such interactions, there has to be a degree of grace, subtlety, and consideration. Here’s a useful rule I call the “Rule of Self-inclusion”. Whenever you want to treat someone to something, be it having a nice meal or going out to do an activity, include yourself in every aspect of it. 


What do I mean by this? I think it be useful to illustrate this by way of treating someone to food (yes, that Singaporean passion). Instead of buying specific portions of food, you can order a variety of different food items and share it with everyone. In this way, you “include” yourself into the treat, and shift the attention away from the individual you are treating. You not only avert any feelings of discomfort or indebtedness (“make people feel paiseh”), you also enrich the experience by sharing and partaking in a meal with them because the social lines are blurred at the dinner table. 


As far as possible, do not deny the opportunity for the other party to treat you in return. You may feel that they need the money more, but accepting the treat can actually be the kinder gesture. It is in your receiving that a bit of self-dignity is restored for them.


When we engage with discussions on poverty, we should not assume to know better than the underprivileged about their condition. We do not presume to tell doctors how to do their jobs. In that vein, we should not prescribe solutions or pass value judgements on those not as fortunate as ourselves, especially if we have not undergone such experiences. 


And even if we have, we should be aware that not all poverties are the same, with different complexities and considerations. Do not cite statistics, figures, number, citations, studies, surveys, and technical jargon; nobody cares. A better approach is to listen to each individual story. Ultimately, human experiences cannot be quantified. Instead of trying to justify our notions of the nature of poverty, we should instead learn to talk less, and listen more to the poor with a beautiful patience. 


Only by listening, can we cultivate “seeing eyes.”


Teacher’s Comments:  It is interesting that you choose to use “domestication”(归化法) and translate “seeing eyes” as “恻隐之心”. I think that this translation fits the context of the story quite well, but if you want to keep the word “eye” in your translation, you can also consider using “慧眼“.

Empathy by Zulhaqem Zulkifli
Translated by Denise Melody Goh (21-U6)