Earlier this summer, a group of 5 UTS students visited No. 2 High School at East China Normal University (No.2HS@ECNU) in Shanghai. The trip took place from June 29 to July 10, and was part of the exchange program between the two schools.
The No.2HS@ECNU is the UTS partner school in China, and is well known for its outstanding performances at regional, national, continental, and international contests in Mathematics, Science, and Computer Science. The school is recognized as one of the top four secondary schools in Shanghai. Here is a brief description of our activities in Shanghai.
During the first two days we had classes at Eucal Art School, finishing the first day with a dinner celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary.
Then we took a trip to West Lake. West Lake is a famous tourist attraction. There are many temples around the lake, and it also has an artificial island with four ponds in the middle of it. Legend has it that the natural beauty of the place has inspired poets and painters for centuries. In the evening, we watched a beautiful fountain show in the lake. That was a lovely ending for the day.
It was interesting to see how ancient China interweaves with the most modern advancements. We went to West Lake on a bullet train. Such trains can reach speeds of up to 300 km/h. We took a photo of our train’s display screen showing 293 km/h. Yet, there are high-speed trains in Shanghai that connect downtown to Pudong International Airport that work on a magnetic cushion – those trains can get up to 400 km/h!
The next two days were devoted to excursions: one day in Zhujiajiao Ancient Town and one day in downtown Shanghai. On the evening of the last day we saw an acrobatics show. That was truly amazing! For me, the 90–minute show seemed to fly by in one breath!
The following 3 days were full of classes at the host school. We has courses in Chinese Calligraphy, Drawing, Mask Painting, 3D Design, Robotics, and Tea Ceremonies. All in all, the school impresses through the design of every detail. Classes are large and well equipped. Each student had plenty of room, and all necessary equipment was kept in excellent condition. They seemed to have special classes for every activity…even soldering.
To close off the memorable trip, each of the UTS students got to spend a day with the family of a host school student, who will come to Toronto at the end of July. The family day was full of activities, including movies and dumpling cooking.
Overall, the exchange was an amazing experience. We look forward to hosting the students from No.2HS@ECNU when they come to Toronto, and can't wait to show them the same warm and welcoming hospitality they showed us.
Mathematics and Computer Science teacher
University of Toronto Schools
Speaking about the city itself, Shanghai has changed a lot over the last few decades. In particular, Pudong was mostly a rural farm region some 30 years ago. Now it is one of the most modern parts of Shanghai with an area of about 1000 km2 and population around 5 million people! A lot of globally known firms have their offices in Pudong, in particular at Zhangjiang High-Technology Park, where No.2HS@ECNU is located. For example, the world–known computer production company Lenovo is right down the road from the school.
Looking at their roads and urban planning in general, Pudong's design is spectacular. The city is very clean and very green. Lines of trees separate sidewalks from roads and create dense shadows all the way along sidewalks. The trees are clearly young (~20-25 years old), and all of them have some kind of supports. Clearly, the city planners thought about the "green city" program well ahead and implemented it with great diligence and care.
Roads have 2 or 3 lanes, and there are full lanes devoted to bicycles, both motorized and not, on both sides of the roads. Green colored fences or flower stands separate bike lanes from car lanes. The number of cyclists and bikers is beyond imagination. The overwhelming majority of motorized bikes are electrical. In fact, I noticed only 2 rather old bikes running on gasoline. The city has plenty of bikes and cars that can be used on some kind of a pay–as–you–go basis.
All of the taxis in Pudong, and most probably all over Shanghai, are Volkswagens. Clearly, this world-famous automaker company was in the right place at the right time and made a profound business decision!
Given that trees and bushes cover the ground level, it seems that buildings occupy the entire space above the trees. Residential areas are extremely dense. Apartment buildings range in heights from 4 stories and there are also some that go all the way to the sky. Over the last 20 years, Shanghai grew enormously, thus increasing the quality of life of its population as well! During that time, the living area per person in Shanghai increased by a factor of 4: from about 40ft2 to 160ft2. Apartment sizes range from 600 ft2 to 720ft2 on average, and the prices are equivalent to those in Toronto.