A new group of students came to sunny Hawaii in this golden autumn of October and walked into Punahou School whose campus, underneath the blue sky and white clouds and surrounded by coconut trees and the sounds of ocean waves, was as beautiful as before, sending out the vicissitudes of history and vitality of modern times, and giving newcomers new discoveries and gains while leaving old visitors full of memories.
One of the missions of every group of exchange students from SCLS is to spread Chinese culture to help those in Punahou School understand China and learn Chinese language. After entering Chinese classrooms in primary, junior and senior middle schools, all the children did everything they could to live up to our trust, holding hands with younger children, teaching them Chinese characters and talking to them in Chinese with their innocent voice, illustrating twelve Chinese zodiac signs and demonstrating Chinese paper-cutting and board games.
How to teach first graders to learn Chinese characters? It’s not that easy. One of the best ways is to illustrate them with pictures so the very young students can match the glyphs with their meanings. By writing and drawing, the first graders learned five to six Chinese characters in just one lesson. With the self-made interesting and unique pictures, many children wanted to draw more Chinese characters even after the bell rang.
With a history of nearly 150 years, the oldest teaching building of Punahou School stands quietly beside a lawn. A stone tablet, on which the first students’ names were carved, marks the beginning of the school that has brought up two presidents: one is Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the first president of the Republic of China, and the other is Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States. Dr. Sun Yat-sen once said, “This is my Hawaii where I grew up and received education. It’s in here that I understand the essence and meaning of modern civilized government.” Mr. Obama also spent his most important adolescence in the school.
The SCLS students were lucky enough this year to have the opportunity to visit the latest facility of the old school --- the engineering technology laboratory. Completed in 2018, the lab owns the most advanced 3D printers, laser cutting machine, and numerically-controlled machine tool. Under the guidance of teachers, students can design products on computers and send their designs to these machines to make them.
On December 7, 1941, Japan launched its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and inflicted great loss on the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The sunken battleship silently lies in the water and thousands of young soldiers, whose names are carved on pure white marble stones, sleep at the bottom of the ocean forever. The memorial at Pearl Harbor is a base of American patriotism education, a place where every group of SCLS exchange students must visit every time. All peoples should remember the history and honor the martyrs.
The old soldiers survived have gradually faded away since the fierce battle broke out 77 years ago, but we were lucky to meet one of the witnesses to the Pearl Harbor incident, Mr Lee, a soldier at the age of 21 then, who introduced his position and the process of the battle and took a photo with us.
The bright Hawaiian sunshine is the passion of nature, the blue Pacific waves the charm, and the magical volcanic rocks the symbol. Blue ocean, white tides, golden sunset, winding coastlines and undefiled beach --- these kinds of scenery are seen only in books and movies at ordinary times but this time the children can appreciate the beauty of nature.
Beside the ocean and the beach, the students had the chance to make intimate contact with the volcanic rocks --- hiking on the Diamond Head. The children have become no longer afraid of the sunshine and fast after hiking nearly two hours, climbing onto the crater and overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean.
Based on the centuries-old Chinese traditional culture and the whole world in view, SCLS students keep growing up through communication with the world by embracing nature and technology.