Eunoia G.O. 2019 Chongqing & Chengdu – A Tale of 2 Cities

Will ‘Made In China’ be the new ‘Made In the USA’?

Written by: Dillon Phang (19-I4)

Designed by: Lee En Tong (19-U2)

Photographs taken by: Dillon Phang (19-I4)



The Belt and Road Initiative (source)


The Belt and Road Initiative (一带一路), China’s ambitious project to link up with countries all the way from Erope to Southeast Asia. “Belt” refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt that links from Europe to East China, while “Road” refers to the Maritime Silk Road, which passes Southeast Asia, Australia and Europe. This project is an iconic representation of China’s rapid development in recent decades. Chongqing and Chengdu are 2 cities that are key in China’s development and themselves have seen much growth. The country’s growing influence and strength is why the China Studies in Chinese Syllabus (CSC) was introduced. Of course this trip is heavily related to the CSC syllabus, and the Bicultural Studies Programme (BSP). I went on this BSP trip as a non-BSP student, and yet, what an eye opener it was, to have a chance to visit China and have first-hand experience in learning about its history and current developments. And so, here are some moments from this trip I’d like to share. 

Upon arriving in Chongqing, one of the first things I recall the tour guide told us to take a look at the highway construction. Peering out of the bus window, we saw a complicated network of several layers of roads stacked on top of each other and at least a dozen exits. The tour guide even joked that if you took a wrong turn here, you might as well prepare to spend the night somewhere else. Looking at this, I wouldn’t doubt that. 


Chongqing’s road network


That was the first thing that really got me intrigued about the city of Chongqing. For the government to have to construct such a convoluted network of roads, there must be something really special about the landform here. Chongqing is nicknamed “山城“, or Mountain City. Despite the mountainous terrain, the urban planners have done a remarkable job designing the city. The way they made use of high-rise buildings and how they designed their roads and rail network to accommodate to this terrain certainly reflects the urban planners’ ingenuity. One instance of this that I find really interesting is with Hongya Cave (洪崖洞). 

We alighted the bus and entered Hongya Cave on level 1. We then exited the cave on like the 11th storey only to see we are next to another main road. Learning about how the government developed this city was one of the main objectives of this trip, and that is also backed up by our visit to Raffles City Chongqing and the Three Gorges Museum (三峡博物馆) on Day 3. 


Hongya Cave, Chongqing


While Chongqing is filled with mountains, Chengdu is known for its plains. Chengdu is blessed with favourable weather conditions and fertile soil, and is also well-protected by surrounding mountainous regions. These favourable conditions saw the city thrive and earn the reputation of 天府之国 or Land Of Abundance. Chengdu was also hence established as the capital for several Chinese dynasties. In comparison to Chongqing, Chengdu would seem more liveable, and the pace of living is much more relaxed here. Its slow pace and good natural conditions even led to it being called 一个来了就不想回去的城市, translated as a city one does not want to return from. And yeah, I feel like going back there now that I recall those days.

I think the one place we visited that best exhibits this relaxed pace here will be People’s Park (人民公园). 

Street food stalls lined the park and there was a teahouse where we saw people getting their ear wax cleaned. Groups of elderly people dancing just like how the elderly in Singapore have morning exercises. There’s even a corner where elders in their families would put up blind date notices to help their children look for their significant other. The whole atmosphere was just very carefree and lively. The closest comparison I can think of would be Chinatown, where we see dozens of old folks coming together to watch some of them play chess. 

The first couple days of this trip were focused on the culture and history of this place, as we got to visit cultural sites like Hongya Cave itself. Hongya Cave is interesting as it showcases some of the developers’ creativity in making a shopping street and tourist attraction out of an otherwise inhabitable cliff. 


Dazu Rock carvings, Chongqing


Another site was the Dazu Rock Carvings (大足石刻). Dazu is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Chongqing, and was first constructed in the Tang Dynasty (681 – 907 CE). The carvings come from 3 different religions; Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Despite the fact Dazu was constructed in the Tang Dynasty, the intricacy coupled with sheer size is still something that modern stone carvers may not be able to replicate. Taking into account the lack of technology back then, we get a sense of the wisdom, passion and dedication that these ancient people had towards this ancient art form. These carvings bring ancient religious teachings to life, in a way that is fascinating even for us tourists hundreds of years later. The carvings that we saw told stories about Buddha’s deeds, each of these carrying lessons on filial piety, and discerning between good and evil. This place showcases how religion has been used by the rulers of Ancient China to pass on and preserve the teachings and values they want their people to inculcate. 


Sanxingdui Museum, Chengdu


Apart from learning about Chinese history, having a chance to look at ancient artifacts really exposes us to the wisdom of ancient people. As mentioned earlier, the countless rock carvings of Dazu gives us a first taste on how dedicated ancient carvers were, to be able to construct artworks that are 10m high, intricate and durable enough to last all the way to the present, all without modern technology. I was in awe once again when we visited the Sanxingdui Museum (三星堆博物馆) here in Chengdu. These artefacts date even further back than Dazu, all the way back to 1200BC. The displayed artefacts included statues and masks made of bronze, and ornaments made of jade and gold. Some of these statues were up to 3m tall and stupendously heavy, and some ornaments only a few millimeters thick. All these, without technology. Some of these, unreplicable even with modern technology. We would think that we are way more capable than our ancestors, to be able to do more with less, due to technology. And yet, these artifacts showcase to us just how remarkable ancient people were.


Chongqing No. 8 Secondary School

Next, we have the one event from this trip that I enjoyed the most, our visit to Chongqing No. 8 Secondary School on the 4th day. We visited 2 out of 5 of its campuses, one being its largest and newer one, and the other being the original and oldest site. The best part about interactions between schools from different countries will always be us getting the chance to interact with students from vastly different countries and backgrounds. I got to learn about the lifestyles and attitudes of the students there. They face the same exam stress that we face, if not more, preparing for their National Exams (高考), just as we prepare for our A-Levels. However, their school life is possibly even more dreadful than ours. Their school hours last longer, and even after school, they have to self-study until 10pm. On top of all that, they are not allowed to use their phones or laptops at all. And yet, they have no complaints, and I respect them for that. Our JC life doesn’t seem that bad now, does it? Another thing I noticed was that the students here are friendlier with their teachers. In a music lesson that we sat in, I got to see how the teacher and students are basically friends with each other, cracking jokes and having fun together. 

My biggest takeaway from this trip would be the opportunity to be able to witness China’s development, especially since we visited 2 cities which are integral to China’s plan to develop its Western cities. It was not so long ago where China was lagging behind all Western superpowers. It was not so long ago where we had made fun of “Made in China” goods. Yet in a blink of an eye, the country has become the one we see today. A good representation of this is perhaps how quickly technology has evolved here. Cashless payment, something that Singapore is yet able to establish nationwide, is ubiquitous in China, even in the smallest of shops. The high speed rail that we took from Chongqing to Chengdu, covers 308 kilometres in less than 2 hours, and is smoother than our own MRT rides. What’s more impressive is China’s ability to retain its rich culture and heritage despite its rapid development. We see that in how Chongqing is developed without forsaking most of its identity as a Mountain City, and how Dazu Rock Carvings and artifacts from Sanxingdui Museum have been preserved to keep alive their ancient heritage. Hongya cave has also demonstrated how modernisation can take place hand-in-hand with preservation of heritage. 


The rise of China is why Singapore aims to establish these bilateral ties with them. We got to learn about that on this trip, from our visits to Raffles City Chongqing and the Consulate General of the Republic of Singapore in Chengdu. The architect for Raffles City, Moshe Safdie, is also the architect for Marina Bay Sands, and you may see some obvious areas of resemblance between the 2 buildings. With 3 Government-to-Government Projects established, we see how Singapore has been able to seek out these opportunities where our strengths in  may come in useful for this superpower. But this responsibility does not just lie on our policy-makers, we as people of this country need to better understand China as well. The best way to build these ties between the 2 countries would be for us, the next generation, to expose ourselves to their culture and better understand its people and its beliefs. 


Here’s a panda to end it off!


Bridging the Cultural Gap: The Memorandum

The Origin* presents ‘The Memorandum’, the latest addition to our BSP series.

Written by: Zhao Keyang (19-I1)

Designed by: Athena Lim (19-A4)


On 16 August 2019, Eunoia Junior College warmly welcomed principals from various schools in Chongqing, China for a visit. One of the principals is from Chongqing No.8 Secondary School (重庆第八中学校) and the main purpose of his visit is to sign a memorandum that will strengthen the relationship between Eunoia Junior College and Chongqing No.8 Secondary School. Generally considered to be one of the best schools in China, we are honoured by their willingness to form a partnership with us. This partnership will provide Eunoians with the opportunity to be more culturally intelligent and learn more as bi-cultural students because it guarantees a programme where Eunoians and students from the Chongqing No.8 Secondary School can interact and exchange ideas with each other. 


Students who are going on the year-end Chongqing Eunoia Global Orientation (Eunoia GO) trip, Chinese Language teachers and various school leaders of Eunoia were able to meet with some of the principals and have a conversation with them over lunch. We had a fruitful discussion about school life and curriculum in Singapore and Chongqing. On a lighter note, we chatted about the food Chongqing and Singapore have to offer.     


We showcased the trip videos that were created by the JC2 students who went on the Eunoia GO trip to Chongqing last year. Our principal, Mrs. Wong-Cheang Mei Heng, courageously gave a speech in Chinese and expressed sincere excitement at the prospect of a partnership. The principal from Chongqing No.8 Secondary School also gave a speech and spoke about how happy he is during his time spent in Singapore. He then proceeded to convey admiration towards the students and teachers of Eunoia, mentioning specifically how much he enjoyed the trip videos made by our seniors.     


The last event of the day was also the most important. The principals from both schools sat down at the table and signed the memorandum, forming an official partnership. I believe that there is a lot for us to gain from this agreement and look forward to meeting and interacting with our peers in Chongqing.  



Bridging the Cultural Gap: A Guide to EJ CSC

This article is the second and (hopefully not final) part of the ‘Bridging the Cultural Gap’ series, which is about H2 China Studies in Chinese (CSC) and the Bicultural Studies Programme (BSP) offered by Eunoia Junior College.

Written by: Beverly Tan (19-E3)

Interviewers: Beverly Tan (19-E3) and Zhao Keyang (19-I1)

Designed by: Lucas Loh (19-A4)


Do you have a passion for learning about China or have plans to work there? H2 China Studies in Chinese (CSC) may be the subject for you. To gain more insights about studying the subject, I interviewed Chen Xin Tong (19-A1), Tessa Chiam (19-U2) and Ong Chong Yu (18-A1) to share their CSC experiences.

Question 1: Why did you choose to study H2 CSC?

Xin Tong: I took up the BSP scholarship in Secondary 2 and studying CSC was one of the conditions of the scholarship. I’m also quite interested in knowing more about China as it is doing very well in the economy and being exposed to their national affairs will definitely benefit me.

Tessa: I am a BSP scholar so it was compulsory for me to study CSC. In addition, I enjoy travelling to China and I felt that if I learned more about China, I would be able to appreciate China better.

Chong Yu:  I studied CSC because I was nominated for the BSP scholarship. After considering it for some time, I decided to apply for the scholarship because I was interested in CSC and received it. Due to the heavy emphasis on biculturalism in my secondary school, I wanted to view China in a broader perspective, instead of focusing on narrowed down topics like its economy.

Question 2: What topics do you learn in H2 CSC?

Xin Tong: China’s economy, environmental problems and income inequality are some of the many topics we learn in CSC.

Tessa:  We have to study China’s economics, politics, society, environmental problems and policies that the government has to solve this issues.

Chong Yu: China’s economy, politics, foreign relations, societal issues like the one child policy, ageing population, rise of the middle class etc. – are topics we study in CSC.

Question 3: What challenges have you faced so far studying CSC? How have you overcome these challenges?

Xin Tong: I need to read up a lot on every topic and the school’s CSC notes mainly comprise of data, so the notes will not make sense unless I read up.

Tessa: For now, I’m learning (about) China’s economy and there are a lot of key terms about economics in Chinese (I don’t even understand what those mean in English). I have been going for consultations regularly. Do not wait until the last minute to consult your tutor. If you ask for consultations at the last minute, your tutor would definitely be tired because you’ll certainly have a lot of questions and it is very taxing for you and your tutor.

Chong Yu: Understanding the notes is challenging. For CSC, there are a lot of technical terms in every topic. Most students find CSC concepts difficult to understand, until the teacher explains it in simpler terms. There is unfortunately, a lot of room for misunderstanding in CSC essays, which can stem from errors in language use or misunderstanding of key terms. Consultations help to clarify doubts. Several of my classmates try to reorganize their notes into mind maps. By doing so, you can see the links in the topic and across topics clearly. This would definitely be beneficial as incorporating links in the topic and across topics in CSC essays is essential in obtaining higher marks.

Question 4: How are H2 CSC classes conducted?

Xin Tong: Like other subjects, there will be CSC lectures and tutorials. However, the lectures don’t really match up with the tutorial and there is no lecture replay. You have to be very attentive during lessons.

Tessa: We have one lecture per week. The lecture group is small compared to other subjects as there are not a lot of students studying CSC in EJ. I think this is better for students because the teacher can afford to go slow for certain topics and this really helps you understand your topics.

Chong Yu: We have the usual lecture and tutorial system. During tutorials, the teachers address mass issues like answering techniques or going through papers. Tutorials are more content heavy than lectures. The teachers attempt to make CSC tutorials more interesting, so they will sometimes facilitate debates held on new topics that are yet to be taught. This encourages us to do our research before learning new topics.

Question 5: What are the highlights of studying H2 CSC?

Xin Tong: A highlight is that you get to learn in the most beautiful and ornate room in EJ, surrounded by Chinese furniture and tea sets.

Tessa: A highlight would be discussions during CSC tutorials. For example, my class had a debate about the sustainability of a measure designed to improve China’s economy. I was one of the debaters and as a debater, you have to understand the issue from both perspectives. Even though I think I messed up at some point, the debate was an unforgettable experience as it makes us learn our notes and different perspectives in interesting ways.

Chong Yu: A highlight of CSC is attending BSP talks, which I find very informative because the topics are relevant to our syllabus. Besides, I get to interact with CSC students from other schools. Immersion trips are also another highlight of CSC. Our notes “come to life” through hands-on experience and I get to witness the development of cities of varying tiers myself.

On top of coursework, H2 CSC students have to submit a thesis paper that constitutes part of their A level grade in their J2 year. However, do not let this rain on your parade and let Chong Yu tell you more about the thesis paper.

Question 1: What are the requirements of the CSC thesis paper?

The CSC thesis paper is a 3000-4000 word research essay. The topics can be anything related to China and CSC. However, they have to be China-centric. You have to read a lot to get as many examples so you can find something to use in your paper.

Question 2: I heard that you have to write your CSC thesis paper while studying for your A levels, how do you manage your time?

I will pace myself and set deadlines, like completing one paragraph every two weeks. Breaking the essay up will make it less taxing to write. You shouldn’t rush to complete it at the last minute, which would impact the quality of your thesis essay.

Question 3: In what aspects is the J2 CSC thesis paper similar to the Year 4 BSP thesis paper?

I think the CSC thesis paper is more different than similar to the Y4 BSP thesis paper. For both thesis papers, you have to create surveys and analyse data collected from your surveys. However, unlike the Y4 BSP thesis paper which requires an element of comparison between China and Singapore, the CSC thesis paper is China-centric and requires students to build up on past research of their selected topic.  

Question 4: What obstacles have you faced while writing your CSC thesis paper so far?

Sieving out useful information is challenging. Piecing the information together to form a coherent paragraph is even more difficult. It is very time consuming as you have to read a lot.

Question 5: Do you have any advice for prospective juniors who plan to study CSC?

At first, CSC seems daunting but it is honestly not as bad as you would expect it to be. As long as you’re willing to put in more effort to understand and clarify your doubts with the teachers, you should be able to have a good grasp on the topics. When you’re able to grasp topics, you can answer most questions, so don’t be scared of taking CSC. For J1s, I suggest doing external readings, especially when you think certain topics don’t have enough examples. Doing research and arranging consultations will be helpful. In addition, you can practice writing paragraphs and letting the teachers mark them, so they can vet the accuracy of your work. To do well for CSC, you have to be precise and strategic in your analysis and chosen points. Jiayou!

Bridging the Cultural Gap: A Guide to EJ BSP

This article is the first of the ‘Bridging the Cultural Gap’ series, which is about H2 China Studies in Chinese (CSC) and the Bicultural Studies Programme (BSP) offered by Eunoia Junior College.

Written by: Beverly Tan (19-E3)

Interviewers: Beverly Tan (19-E3) and Zhao Keyang (19-I1)

Designed by: Loh Zheng Lucas (19-A4)

‘Just because you’re bilingual doesn’t mean you’re bicultural’ is a quote that has been etched in my memory for a long time. After attending a seminar conducted by a translator during my BSP camp in Secondary 3, the realisation of the importance of possessing cultural intelligence of both Eastern and Western cultures dawned upon me. As we all know, China’s manpower, natural resources and rapid urbanisation is an indication of its advancements towards superpower status. Due to China’s growing importance, the study of contemporary China is becoming a topic of interest, with the emergence of programmes like BSP.  

Thus, this leads to the crux of my article – what is BSP? Is it a program that promotes the usage of the Chinese language in schools despite its ‘obsoleteness’ in our post-HCL O level days?

BSP stands for Bicultural Studies Programme. It is a programme helmed by MOE that aims to cultivate a deep understanding of both Western and Chinese cultures in students and engage them in tackling the complexities of contemporary China’s local and international issues, such as trade and foreign relations.

For JIP students, applications for BSP commence in Secondary 2. Actual curriculum starts from Secondary 3, spanning until their J2 year, should they decide to continue being part of BSP. As for non-BSP students who are interested in applying for BSP in J1, they must study H2 China Studies in Chinese (CSC) to be admitted into the programme.

I know there are many people who perceive BSP as a dry and boring programme. Well, these assumptions are not true. Through BSP, I had the opportunity to attend seminars, camps and embarked on an overseas immersion trip to Shanghai and Nanjing in Secondary 3 (note: locations of trips differ across all schools offering BSP). In EJ, our BSP teachers make an effort to make BSP as interesting and engaging as possible through discussions and inviting guest speakers to share different perspectives of China. The insights I gained of China’s construction of its rags to riches narrative, from the ‘Sleeping Dragon’ in the 20th century to the recognised global superpower it is today, are truly invaluable.

To provide more insights about BSP, I interviewed Dania Tan (19-A5) and Khoo Kiat Lun (19-O2), with the help of Zhao Keyang (19-I1), to share their BSP experiences:

Question 1:  Why did you choose to enter BSP?

Dania: I chose to enter the BSP programme in secondary school as I already had a keen interest in China’s development, as well as its culture. I felt that joining this programme is a good avenue for me to understand China better.

Kiat Lun: I thought that BSP was a meaningful programme. Also, I had a strong interest in both the English and Chinese languages. Through BSP, I hoped that I can better understand Western and Eastern cultures with greater depth.

Question 2: What is the content covered in BSP classes?

Dania: I learned about China’s economy, its social demographic and foreign relations. There was also a series of lessons about analysing one of the ‘Four Classics of Chinese Literature’ – The Dream of the Red Chamber.

Kiat Lun: At the beginning, we learned ancient Chinese history, then we moved on to modern China. We compared its society and economy to other countries. China’s relations with other countries were also discussed. For example, we discussed the ‘One Belt, One Road’ policy and its possible developments.

Question 3: How has BSP shaped your perspective of China?

Dania: Previously, I had very little knowledge on China, so I used to often hear things about how China was backward. After attending BSP lessons, I have learned about how China is actually extremely advanced and has a burgeoning economy.

Kiat Lun: At first, I did not see China as a rising power because I did not know that China had the potential to grow. After attending BSP, I get to see China’s rapid development and potential to advance further.

Question 4: Can you share an unforgettable moment of your BSP journey?

Dania: An unforgettable memory for me would be my BSP trip to China with my BSP batchmates in Secondary 3. I got to experience the way of life in China and  the education system there. I visited many memorial halls and gained deeper insights on China’s history. It was a very rewarding experience as I got to know my classmates better and I had a really good time there. Therefore, I decided to apply for the Eunoia G.O. BSP trip to Chongqing and Chengdu.  

Kiat Lun: During my Sec 3 BSP trip, my friends and I experienced ‘culture shock’ when we had a student exchange session at a local school as the students were very hardworking, which was very different from Singaporean student culture. In the same trip, I participated in an entrepreneurship programme, which was very fun and enriching as I learned more about setting up a business.

Question 5: What are your greatest takeaways from being part of BSP?

Dania: I think that one of the greatest takeaway is that I feel that I have understood China at a greater and deeper level and I think that this will be beneficial for me in the future as China is becoming increasingly influential on a global scale.

Kiat Lun: My greatest takeaways would be the knowledge I gain from attending BSP lessons as I understand more about China. The friendship forged between BSP students from other schools is also another big takeaway.

To conclude, BSP is truly an eye opening programme that I am grateful to be a part of. When I first joined BSP, I was expecting to learn more about China. Instead, I found myself becoming a more culturally intelligent and reflective individual. If you’re a prospective student, do consider joining EJ BSP! We may not have cookies but we can assure you that the weekly one hour BSP lesson is nothing short of fruitful.    

Note: Thank you Dania and Kiat Lun for taking the time to participate in the interviews. Also, special thanks to Lucas for helping with the design.