Learning outside of the classroom provides students with opportunities to engage meaningfully with their local community and forge connections abroad. For this reason, experiential learning is considered an important arm of Vanke Meisha Academy. Through experiential learning programs, students cultivate important 21st century skills, including: problem solving, observation techniques, collaboration, and critical thinking.
Since first being proposed by famous educators, John Dewey and David Kolb, a wide range of definitions for experiential learning have been developed and refined. Experiential learning cycles typically involve four steps: concrete experience, observation and reflection, abstract conceptualization (concluding/learning from the experience), and active experimentation (trying out what you have learned). Due to the exponential growth of information made available by the Internet, there has been a need to shift our educational philosophy and fundamental practices. Teaching methods have been reinvented and the walls of the classroom have been gradually broken down. Knowledge is no longer restricted to the classroom and we can all learn through online mediums, whether by reading articles or watching class lectures anytime and anywhere.
To quote an ancient Chinese proverb, "reading thousands of books is not comparable to traveling thousands of miles". These contrasting activities do not contradict each other, rather they promote and complement each other as a new form of learning. Kolb once stated, “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”. Thus, we believe that the experiential learning process can take place beyond the traditional classroom and that it enhances the personal and intellectual growth of our students. At VMA, students engage in a diverse range of activities beyond the classroom. As a necessary step in the learning process, they reflect on the importance of gaining access to relevant knowledge and developing hands-on skills in order to build up their personal values and developing their capacity to contribute to the community.
Theme: Urban Sustainability
Urban Sustainability Singapore is known as the ‘City in a Garden’ and is often seen as a model city for its urban planning, which prioritizes livability and sustainability. Many countries, including China, have tried to learn from the failures and successes of this tiny cosmopolitan island-state.
But what does true sustainability mean? How might we manage the tension between urban development and environmental sustainability? Explore the latest strategies, policies, and initiatives of the different sectoral stakeholders that contribute to addressing social and environmental challenges in Singapore.
In this course, participants will examine the factors that make a city livable Specifically, they will investigate how sustainable architecture, urban planning, and the principles of participatory design are essential to creating a sustainable and livable city with a vibrant community. They will also get the exclusive opportunity to meet social entrepreneurs and to develop competencies in critical social innovation skills like design thinking and asset-based community development. These skills and experiences will help to prepare them for making a sustainable positive impact in college and beyond.
This trip has shown me that urban sustainability is a vision too grand to be fulfilled by the government alone. It demans efforts from the government and its people. No one can truly stand on his own.
PEI Ruiming (Qing House)
1. Explore how Singapore manages its city planning; understand how scarce land and resources are managed by incorporating vertical greenery and sustainable energy-efficient features in its buildings through visits to innovative housing sites and nature parks.
2. Find out how social businesses can support and nurture a culture of social innovation and urban sustainability by hearing from award-winning social entrepreneurs who will share about their work.
3. Visit an urban farm in Singapore to learn how they can play an important role in the urban environmental management system.
4. Go on a guided trail at Lower Peirce Reservoir to understand the importance of preserving nature and how the green lungs of the city help to maintain a sustainable urban environment.
5. Learn from experts in inclusive and community-centered design; discover how they make planning and design more participatory to make the city more livable.
6. Visit the Singapore Botanical Gardens, the first and only tropical botanical garden on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List; learn how the gardens relate to Singapore’s colonial past.
7. Learn about Singapore’s multi-racial national framework and experience the value of diversity in Singapore’s community through educational guided tours of both glitzy areas and the heartlands of the city.
8. Stay at the boarding school of one of Singapore's most highly ranked high schools.
9. Meet with students from Yale-NUS College, Singapore’s first Liberal Arts university, and learn about how young people are actively using social innovation to make a positive impact in their communities.
This is definitely going to be one of the most memorable experience in my life. The singaporeans' are truly pracicing their love and caring of the nature. Singapore has really achieveed the coexistence of the human and the natural world.
Ray Chen (Xia House)
Theme: Chinese history and culture
Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China, has the largest number of World Heritage sites. It was also the center of politics, economy and culture during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. Overlooking Beijing, almost most important buildings are spread along a line called the "Beijing Central Axis". The central axis of Beijing is 7.8 kilometers long starting from Yongdingmen to the Bell Tower. Allegedly, it is the most outstanding model of urban design in the history of world. Liang Sicheng once lauded the construction, saying: "Beijing's unique and magnificent order was established by the Central Axis.” During this trip, we will examine the Central Axis from the perspectives of city, architecture, history, and folklore with the Project-Based Learning to uncover the cultural code behind it.
Navigating in the metropolis that is old and new at the same time, I felt the marks of cultural identity engraved in my bones. This is a sensation that can only be fully appreciated when you are actually IN that city. Everyone should go to Beijing at least once!
Coco Lin (Song House)
Students will experience the legacy of Beijing’s history and explore the geographical, architectural, and cultural highlights of the city. Focusing on the city’s central axis, Vanke Meisha Academy’s ELP Beijing Route will allow students the opportunity to understand how Beijing came to be the city it is today, and how that change, in return, influenced Chinese people’s thinking pattern.
The Beijing program is interdisciplinary and exploratory, examining the intersections of literature, history, political science, and geography. Students will be expected to reflect upon their experience every night, visually presenting the results via mind-maps. With the help of their program facilitator, students will be led to exchange ideas on relevant historic and contemporary issues, which eventually will benefit their critical thinking.
VMA’s mission is to cultivate global leaders and citizens with Chinese identity. It is our hope that while our students are striving to actualize themselves and achieve their aspirations, they do not forget their cultural roots. Only when they truly understand their cultural identity can they make real difference with their lives.