GAIL Conference 2019 - Shanghai
Day 1 – We have Arrived at WISS, Shanghai...
Landing in Shanghai on Saturday for the 6th annual GAIL conference was such a buzz. As expected, we were all exhausted when we arrived but we were all very excited to meet the delegates from all the other GAIL schools - Scotch, KUA, Prestige, Woodstock, RGC, WISS and Newton. We all meet in the hotel lobby, where KUA invited us to play cards with them. We did reasonably well with just 2 hours of sleep. The next morning we awoke feeling much better and went to the mall to get lunch. Of course Sophie, being the American she is, had to get a Starbucks, that was our first taste of authentic Shanghai-nese food. We arrived at WISS at 2.30pm ready to being our GAIL conference.
After an introductory assembly, we split up into our groups (which included a delegate from each school) and did a scavenger hunt around WISS, to familiarise ourselves with the campus. Of course Jason’s group won as they had inside knowledge. This was followed by an official opening ceremony, led by renowned Psychologist Dr. Sadock, with a presentation on what the ideas of a balanced life might mean and it set the scene for the whole conference. Shortly after this, Shaolin Monks performed their kung fu and wushu skills which left us all speechless and a little terrified. We then had a barbeque dinner in the cafeteria and buses took us back to the hotel. We went straight to bed as we were all so sleep deprived but excited for the following days.
Overall, we really enjoyed meeting all the other delegates, everyone is so welcoming and friendly and we can tell that this is going to be a great conference.
By Sophie Bradly and Pernille Geo
Day 2 - Building Relationships
Today we went to 360 Bounce, a giant indoor trampoline and activity place, which was massive in comparison to NZ Jump. It was a blast! Everyone got stuck in and had a great time. We left pretty exhausted and needing a nap. However, it was back to WISS to partake in a special workshop, which everyone is split into smaller groups to do. One of the best workshops was the UV prints. We made some awesome artwork!
After the Shaolin performance yesterday at the opening ceremony, we were excited about training with the monks in the afternoon. They came to the school and we learned how to balance our inner chi. Although we didn’t walk on fire like the movies we did however learn to attack with our spears.
After an exciting yet exhausting training session with the monks we enjoyed a cultural performance from Prestige College. It was musical, with chants and dancing, which was interesting because it gave a unique insight into their culture.
After tea, KUA taught us how to play American dodgeball, somehow we all survived. It got pretty competitive at times. The day finished on a high when we all got onto the buses and arrived at KTV a special Karaoke venue.. We will never forget this, it was great to spend time with our team members and break the ice, with two hours of laughter. Memories and friendships were sparked as we sang (screamed). What an amazing day. Finally time to sleep.
By Rohan Farmer and Charlie Jenkins
Day 3 - Workshops
I can’t believe we’re halfway through the conference and as we continue to experience a growing amount of cultural activities, our understanding of the importance of balance in our lives is forever growing.
We started the day with different workshops at WISS. Rock climbing exhibited a literal idea of balance, which Adam could not uphold, not quite making it one of the walls. On a deeper level, we learnt about success and failure when challenging ourselves and reaching for new platforms, all characteristics of a balanced life. Dumpling making was a relaxing activity following, for which e made traditional northern chinese dumplings. After the activities of the day, we proceeded to tiger hall to receive the profound cultural offering of Robert Gordens college, Caleigh Dancing. After 45 minutes of wild circling and throwing of arms all over Tiger Hall, it was time for dinner. This was followed the cultural offering from WISS, traditional chinese activities such as calligraphy and fan painting. We finally feel that we are diving deep into chinese culture.
The evening entertainment finished with relaxing in front of the highly acclaimed Toy Story 3. While we tried to watch, many couldn’t help collapsing on the semi-giant beanbags to take a nap. Looking forward to a big sightseeing day tomorrow!
By Adam Sharp and Kazik Grochowicz
Day 4 – Seeing the city!
We woke up feeling excited not sure what to expect of the special day in Shanghai. We were broken up into two teams to experience the city with a different perspective. We headed out on jeeps into the Europeon influenced historical parts of the city centre. The jeep was cool, we blasted the music as we saw the sites and ended up parking next to Joy’s house, which was pretty funny. They live next to the historical slaughterhouse which is now filled with arty shops. We also did a historical murder mystery activity that involved making poison and counter poision with some pretty disgusting ingredients. It was really cool learning about the French Concession and it was a new way to see the city, walking a massive 7km. Everyone felt pretty exhausted after the big day of touring,
Dinner at 021 Shanghai with a variety of dishes from different places from around China. The meat was definitely welcomed, not sure about all the vegetables though :) After dinner as we walked out on the street we all started signing with the prestige students, and we had a small crowd gather round and film us . We then walked the busy streets, it was impressive that we made it to the waterfront without anyone getting lost! The Bund was a ‘whoa’ moment for so many, everyone was taking photos and staring in awe of the lights and the ships travelling along the Huang Pu river. We returned to the hotel feeling like we had seen a really different part of Shanghai and for many of the Chinese student it shined a new light on Shanghai
By Jason Yang and Joy Xu
Day 5 – Cultural Sharing
It was great to wake up an hour later today, we really needed it after such a big day. Today we had our last three workshops, which were really diverse. In the first session we looked at customs and verbal versus non verbal when in comes to on-line social media communication. We debated on whether technology is a positive or negative thing for communication, but there was no real winner as there is no one answer. We also made dumplings to explore the symbolism of bringing people together in China. Getting stuck on the rock climbing wall was definitely one of the most memorable moments of the day for Pernille.
The cultural sharing session was Scotch who had 5 stations where teams showed their knowledge of Australia. We won the overall ‘most like Australia’ competition, which made sense. Some of us got to try vegemite for the first time and it wasn’t even that bad! Then the Woodstock crew took over and we had a spicy Indian food competition, in which Pernille and Jason won! We then had a chance to have a lively Bollywood dance with our new friends, which was fun!
Finally the evening ended with the GAIL talent show. Everyone was so talented, especially Veer from Woodstock, who sung an amazing song - we were all speechless! It was great that Charlie represented Kristin, we were all grateful for, he did a really good job! I can’t believe we only have one more day!
By Daisy Zhou and Pernille Gao
Day Six - Our Final Day
This was the day of bringing all the learning about the conference theme together, asking the 6 teams to share all the new ideas about ‘balance’ in life, new understandings they had gained from being a part of this conference. Students were able to choose any method to communicate. Some selected drama, others poetry, some quizzes, others art and sculpture, video and so much more. After a morning of preparation, teams shared what is meant to balance all parts of their life, using the PERMA model (positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment). The afternoon presentations were so cool! So much wisdom was shared by all the students, with amazing collaboration and creativity - everyone had learned something, it was inspiring!
The afternoon finished with the Kristin School doing their cultural activity session. This involved teaching the girls the Maori song Tutira Mai and the boys teaching the haka. In just 40 min everyone had learned the words and movements and as a whole group of 80 people, we performed the haka in honour of Dr Brunton, the Director of WISS, to thank him for hosting the conference.
The conference ended in a Spanish restaurant, of all places! The owner of WISS, Mr Jiang, treated us all to a 6 course meal at his restaurant! Dr Sadock returned to close the conference with her keynote speech about the importance of values, reframing situations, creating boundaries and seeking support from those around you. We farewelled Mr Oughton, thanking him for his vision of GAIL and for all he has done to bring the idea of global connections to life. Finally, after all the thank you’s, there was the party! Loud music, great dancing and just lots of fun with all the new friends that everyone had made! All part of having balance in our life - the hard work over and now it was time to celebrate a life changing week!
As Mr Oughton says - it’s not goodbye, it’s just see you later….
By Sarah Wakeford, GAIL Champion