I have a dream – that one day, I could visit America, the Land of Dreams.
Just days after the results for the 57th quadrennial Presidential Elections were announced, 12 students from the Bicultural Studies Programme, together with a teacher chaperone, embarked on a “journey to the West” to realise their dreams.
The journey there was not an easy one as all of us went through 24 hours of struggle managing the switch between time zones. However, it did not waver our enthusiasm to set foot onto this country, which has received so much attention over the decades, The United States of America.
Visit to the U.S Capitol, White House, Lincoln Memorial
Captivated by the intricate designs in the Capitol, statues of past leaders and prestigious rooms filled with austerity and solemnity, we stood in awe as these images flashed past us. Simply put, it was nothing like we imagined it to be.
Abraham Lincoln Memorial
We stood in the room where the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery was passed. We stood on the spot were Abraham Lincoln’s desk once stood. At those exact moments, we felt that we had just traveled through time.
Ever wondered how the life of the U.S presidents was like? The first step is to visit where they live -The White House.
The White House has played host to many events in the history of America, and at that moment of our visit, President Obama might have just been above us in the Oval Office! To be that close to the US President was a dream come true to many of us.
Visit to the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Art is an important part of the American culture as well. History has documented many Americans who sought and used various forms of art to express themselves. Therefore, visiting the Smithsonian Art Museum and taking in the sights and sounds of these famed art pieces was truly an enlightening experience for all of us.
Harpers’ Ferry Field Trip
Harpers’ Ferry is a small town with a rich history, located in Jefferson County, West Virginia, next to the Potomac River. It was famously known for John Brown’s raid and its involvement in the Civil War. As we roamed around Harpers’ Ferry, we were mesmerised by the serenity and peace that surrounded it, yet we were painfully reminded of how history had destroyed this town that once bustled with life.
The last place of interest we visited was the Laogai (劳改) Museum. The Museum tells us about the stories of China’s Labour Reform and how it is still happening today. An ex-prisoner from China, Harry Wu, recounted his struggle in the labour camps, where he suffered under the brutal force of the Chinese. At first, it seemed peculiar to us to visit a Chinese Museum in America. Before visiting this museum, we had the least idea of this system of reform in China. The brutal side of China was magnified and most of us were taken aback. We were aware of past Chinese events that were unacceptable such as the Nanjing Massacre; however we were not aware of such reform through labour that is even happening in our time. It was an eye opener. We were greatly stunned by the fact that America, a country so far away from Asia, has a museum fighting for something that we Asians are not even aware of.
Homestay with our local buddies
Life as an American was full of surprises and fun, and thus we had one of the best American experiences with our host buddies. We experienced the American lifestyle, going to football matches, experiencing one of America’s favourite sport, feeling the atmosphere of a game which almost all Americans greatly adored. Some of us went to the Great Falls, another attraction in Virginia. We also had the chance to experience America’s fast food culture and savour a different variety of food ranging from the Mexican fast food Chipotle to craved desserts such as Sweet Frog (frozen yoghurt), Cold Stone, and many more! In addition, ice skating in the open air with our buddies was certainly an icy blast!
Even staying at home was an exciting experience. Be it movie marathons, baking S’mores, mini-barbeque with marshmallows, or warm dinners next to the fireplace, all of us had a unique and unforgettable time with our buddies and their families. We were all deeply touched by their hospitality.
Local Immersion at Dominion High School
Isn’t that a tennis ball?
Yes! Dominion High School has an innovative way of reducing noise made by the screeching of tables and chairs! This was one of the few creative things that captured our attention in their school. Everywhere on their walls, we could see paintings painted by students themselves. We were also fascinated by the corridor of fame, corridor of flags and corridor of lockers. The school was filled with creativity and self-expression, the students were also very welcoming and friendly as we interacted and exchanged information about our cultures.
There was also a lesson organised by the Freethinkers Club, when we were invited to discuss about controversial issues such as Creationism versus Evolutionism. Inspiring indeed! From the lesson, we could clearly observe the contrast between our conservative society and that of our liberal counterparts on these topics.
Through this trip, we have forged strong friendships and experienced the American culture through valuable firsthand experiences. I believe that all of us would miss our buddies very much and would constantly keep in touch with each other. If you asked any of us if we wanted to go back to the U.S again, our answer would definitely be a YES.
BYE AMERICA, WE’LL COME AGAIN!
Written by Gennie Neo Jing Wen, 12S6E