What a fortnight! From 11th to 20th November, twenty-four students from Singapore Chinese Girls’ School (SCGS) descended on Reach Hall in Cambridge for a tailor-made academic course exploring topics within three key themes: society, culture and ethics. Through lectures, debates, group work, individual work, and fieldwork, the students expanded their understanding of the world and critically appraised their role and impact within it.
The students partook in 45 hours of tuition on a variety of topics including:
Experts in the field delivered these courses, and the majority were associated with the University of Cambridge. One highlight of the Social Anthropology course was the fieldwork project. In groups, students designed questionnaires and interviewed members of the public in Cambridge city centre. Research topics included capital punishment, medical testing, and the impact of culture on individuals in a city. The groups then analysed and presented their data in light of their secondary research at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The exceptional quality of the final presentations proved that the course had improved the students’ confidence, advanced their critical thinking skills, and developed their ability to form and defend their own opinions.
The academic themes of the programme were supported and extended by trips to:
For example, at Radley College, the students experienced first-hand what teaching is like in a UK all boys’ school. Similarly in Stratford, the students visited Shakespeare’s old school and interacted in a 16th century-style Latin lesson with the schoolmaster. During a walking tour of the other formative places associated with Shakespeare’s early life, the students debated the influence of Shakespeare’s education, family background, gender, and personal experiences on his ability to succeed as a culture-changer. Back in Cambridge, the students linked the trip to Radley College with their debate in Stratford to explore how their own social and cultural context influences their actions and opinions, and how these influences could be embraced or managed.
In addition to the formal teaching on the course, the students experienced day-to-day British culture through food! A Sunday Roast, Fish & Chips, and Full English Breakfast all featured on the menu. The students also seized the opportunity of being surrounded by Cambridge University graduates, asking excellent questions about university life and the UK university application process.
It was a joy to watch every student open-up as they learnt from the cultural experiences and intellectual challenges presented by this tailor-made course.