Saturday, November 10, 2012

Reflections by Celine

City tour of Honolulu

We visited the main areas of the city, such as the Govenor's house, and the building which hung a huge bronze plate of the Hawaii state symbol. We also saw a statue of King Kamehameha, who was the first king and who successfully managed to unite all the tribes to work together. His statue was placed as it is significant to Hawaii's history for if it were not for him, the tribes would still be in conflict and Hawaii would not be able to progress to what it is today.
The state building of Hawaii

Bishop Museum

It shows the historical artifacts of Hawaii, like the several weapons and items the ancient tribespeople used and also the art and sciences that they had practiced even back then. It also showed the gods that the people believed in and explained their religion. This again preserves the history of Hawaii and shows that the ancient people also had religions much like we do today and also found their own methods of adaptation and survival. This then sustained the culture of Hawaii as it educates people about the methods use in the past.
An exhibit on display at the museum, showing the 'evolution' of mankind

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor maintains the history of WW2 and retains the memory of the many soldiers who gave their lives on that day, 7 December 1941. From this we can learn that war is a terrible thing and the deaths caused are enough to make anyone not go to war, no matter which country they're from. It keeps the memories of the soldiers and civilians who died and shares these memories and experiences with the rest of the world and the later generations so we know the impact of war and how it can affect and hurt all of us, even if we're not soldiers.

At the memorial:
The marking of where the USS Arizona lies untouched ever since it sank.

The whole list of names of the soldiers who died on the ship.

How it happened:
The US wanted to deter Japan from attack them, so they moved their entire fleet of ships to Pearl Harbor. They were also angry about Japan's invasion into China in 1937. As Japan was invading and taking over Asia, US also did not want to lose out. But the US already had many problems, so they decided to stay out of it for now. The fleet that was moved to the harbor had the ships USS Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada, and many more. 1,500 men alone were on the USS Arizona. The American military believed that they were prepared for a surprise attack if any, as they had carried out their own drills. In said drills the USS Arizona proved itself to be a formidable force, covered in armour with 14-inch guns. Their planes were parked wingtip to wingtip with guns unloaded to save space.
In Japan, General Yamamoto believed that Pearl Harbor had to be destroyed as it was where most of the US's military was and if they took out part of the US they could go ahead and invade SEA without any interference. They picked to have the attack on 7 December as it was a Sunday where people were more relaxed. Coincidentally, there was a concert for the soldiers the night before, further lowering their guard.
At 6am, 220 miles north of Oahu where Pearl Harbor was (also the island with Honolulu), the Japanese launched their planes. Fighters went first, followed by attack planes with special armour-penetrating bombs or aerial torpedos and lastly dive bombers, a total of 183 planes. 30 minutes later, a second wave of 167 planes followed.

The Japanese code words to signal the attack, and showed how quickly it was finished.

A picture describing how the Japanese aerial torpedos worked in shallow water, and the rough arrangement of how the battleships were aligned.

They sent the message but it took awhile before they realised it was a real attack.

How the Ward took down the midget submarine. After this, they noticed a high number of planes incoming on their radar. This was also sent to the commander, who assumed that the large number of planes were their own B-17 planes that were due to arrive in Pearl Harbor from California, and told them, 'Don't worry about it.'

Showing that the soldiers were not daunted even if the attack was unexpected. The USS Arizona was destroyed completely when a bomb penetrated its armour and reached its ammunition reserves, which later exploded.

The torpedo that was recovered. This was only the tail end of it, as the actual torpedo was about 6m long.

From all this it simply shows, again, the tragedy which serves as a reminder how bad war can be and the effects it has on not just soldiers, but also normal people and that we should just try to all get along with each other. Learning about Pearl Harbor can be linked back to Singapore as we too have our own war memorials to remember these brave souls and also to remember the losses and the sacrifices they made so we can have a better future, to understand why they did so, why the outcome was what it is and everything in between from the past, and to honour all that they had done for us.
It was significant to the US as it represented a time when they were not only caught off guard but also showed that they were at their lowest point, being knocked down, but they managed to bounce back and rise back up and eventually win despite the losses. Since America is a superpower, it wanted to also show the rest of the world that they had the power that gave them their reputation.
WW2 showed that firstly first-mover advantage was part of the reason as to why countries go to war. Japan did not want interference from the other superpower USA when it was invading other countries in its quest to get more resources, therefore decided to attack Pearl Harbor in the hopes of preventing US from fighting back but instead did the opposite. USA was enraged about Japan's actions and immediately declared war on Japan so as to 'get revenge' for their sacrifices.
It also showed that war could cause many consequences, mainly being people losing their lives and having to go through hardship no matter which country they were from, be it if they were a soldier or a civilian or a POW, everyone suffers in times of war. Therefore it shows how bad war can be.

Pali Lookout

It, like King Kamehameha's statue, is an important part of Hawaii's history as it was the exact place where the fight took place and where the king won to be able to unite all the tribes together. It was also where the Japanese planes 'hid' before attacking Pearl Harbor so they would not be detected by radars. It was incredibly windy, as it is a mountain range and is the only outlet for the wind to pass through where it was coming in from the sea, and therefore may or may not be a good lookout (due to hair getting in the way of good photos, etc.) It holds much significance to Hawaii's history and also has a lot of nature, so it needs to be preserved as it not only sustains the history and then indirectly the culture of Hawaii, but also the nature/environment as well.
The view from Pali lookout.

Polynesian Cultural Centre

It is used to teach the people about the culture and tribes of the people who lived there before urbanisation took over. It makes sure that we do not lose who we actually are at heart, through representing 6 main tribes and their way of living. It sustains the culture of the native people and their ancestors. The six tribes: Hawai'i, Aotearoa, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti all have their own unique methods of survival and their own rituals.
Its main idea is that culture needs to be taught to the younger generations so that they do not forget their roots and believe that the age they were born into was the only thing that the human race started with when it dated further back than it did.
It highlights several main characteristics about each tribe, for example, Tahiti dances usually had the women who could shake their hips vigorously, and Samoa tribes had specialized tree climbers to get coconuts which were too high up normally. This allows for easy absorption so visitors can learn more and also understand more about the tribes and the ancient civilisations.
No photos because my camera died, whoops ><

Diamond Head

It's a natural crater and though it does not appear to have much greenery, it should still be preserved as it is like the main symbol of Hawaii. People recognize Hawaii by its beaches and by this crater, and therefore it should not be destroyed and measures taken to be able to preserve it from the high number of visitors who climb it everyday. It is like how the Eiffel Tower represents Paris/France. It sustains Hawaii's environment.
The view from the top of Diamond Head

Hanauma Bay+blowhole+beach+mountain

Hanauma Bay, or Dragon Bay, from its majestic appearance, can easily show how it needs to be sustained and also since it was completely natural, showed the natural side of Hawaii, which is something rare that can be found in Singapore. Along with the blowhole created by a lava tube, a beach filled with volcanic rock and the mountain with the red (albeit small) lighthouse, these landmarks clearly display the natural side of Hawaii and needs to be sustained as it provides a good environment and can educate people to treasure our earth and its beauty.

Waimea Valley

Although it is a national park, they still keep the beliefs of the ancient people, as before we entered we had to do a ritual where we had to ask if we had the permission to enter the supposedly believed to be sacred area. They sustained the old culture and behaviour of the olden days, as they also had exhibits of the houses the tribespeople lived in and the guide also explained their way of life in depth so we understood about the ancient Hawaiian culture as well. They also took a lot of care on the environment, as they grew native plants of Hawaii and also re-grew plants that were endangered even though their use by humans was not needed anymore as it was the only way to make sure the plants did not die out as said plants needed human intervention to reproduce.

Punahou School

It was a very enriching experience as I got to know more about how the American students study. In classes, the teachers were rather informal with them, treating the students as though they were friends but yet still held that form of status above them. The students were still respectful to their teachers. They were also allowed to eat in class and not wear uniforms, but reason for the former was that some students' schedules did not allow for any lunch break, so they would have no choice but to eat in class. I think that this can also be implemented in SST, for if we students were allowed to eat in class, then the lunch break time could be used for lessons and other curriculum time. In between, the students were given about 5 minutes to walk to their next venues for lessons, and some, like my buddy, had breaks in between, where they could either study, do homework, or socialize, or, in the case of my buddy, go to work. As they were all gathered in the same school, my buddy could help out with the teachers teaching the younger students during her break, and even get paid for doing so, benefitting both parties. Being able to attend the same school throughout all her school years also allowed her to forge close bonds with her previous teachers, and she was able to visit them whenever she got a break just to catch up with each other. I thought that that was pretty neat, as when most of us left primary school, we rarely returned to visit our past teachers, visiting them only once a year whereas the American students could go back any time they could. The design of the school was also very conducive, with open areas and loads of places where the students could study and do work, yet also socialize and chat with friends. The design was also beneficial to the environment, as they had large water tanks and 'rivers' to collect rainwater which could be used to water the plants, and one large tank that collected spring water from underneath for all their basic needs. They also had solar panels installed which could power an entire building by themselves, thus effectively cutting down on their use of electricity the 'normal' way. Most of the lessons were also very engaging and the teachers gave students many opportunities for them to express themselves and encouraged them to be more outspoken and not hold anything back. I feel that SST and maybe even the Singapore education system has a lot to learn from America in general, though of course they still have their flaws.

Reflections by Joshua

City Tour
We went around the whole city, basically, and managed to see many sights of Hawaii such as the statue of Kamehameha and the Little White House, along with some beaches. These monuments were probably built in order to sustain culture by getting people to remember how Hawaii has come to be what it is today. The statue of course, could be somewhat likened to that of Sir Stamford Raffles' in Singapore, but with gold and probably more expensive. Also, Singapore should probably have more monuments about its history to promote more understanding among citizens, although it might be a problem due to Singapore being relatively young.

Statue of King Kamehameha I

Bishop Museum
The Bishop Museum taught us all about Hawaii, from its gods, to the elites and several kings, even the tools used by the tribes back then when fishing or storing food and such. It definitely helps to sustain understanding of the culture of Hawaii because it shows visitors about a lot of the history of Hawaii and how it has developed by having exhibits about the different leaders and what they had done to allow Hawaii to become what it has become today. Singapore could actually have some sort of a museum to showcase its history to the public, though I doubt that it could be as grand or with that many exhibits, such as the cloaks the elites in Hawaii wore, as the Bishop Museum. Singapore's short history would, like mentioned above, once more be a problem.

Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial
Pearl Harbor taught me about the sustainability of the memories and the importance of peace as well. The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial served to let people remember of the tragic event on 7 December, 1941, where many people - marines, civilians and those in the army, died. This was so they could learn from the mistakes they made that day, such as not being prepared for everything, which in this case was an aerial attack. 

Learning from these mistakes would help people like us in Singapore to be able to minimise the number of casualties in any war that could take place in the future, well, especially with the really small population for the workforce and all. Though in the first place, hopefully there will be no wars anymore once people understand how war can have such devastating effects and human costs.

A picture of the many names of people who lost their lives in the attack of Pearl Harbor 

There were also interesting things about the attack on Pearl Harbor such as how people constantly trained for an attack (though in the end the outcome was far from what was expected of course) and how soldiers were alerted via radio to get back to battle stations during the attack.

Pali Lookout
Pali lookout was definitely one of the most enjoyable attractions that day due to the strong currents of wind blowing in between the two mountains. Apparently, we were also very lucky that day, since our tour guide mentioned that the winds were blowing stronger than they usually were. Of course, it was not without its historical value. The two peaks of the mountains at Pali Lookout were used by the Japanese as landmarks to identify the island when they were going to attack Pearl Harbor.

View from Pali Lookout

The Polynesian Cultural Centre
The Polynesian Cultural Centre (PCC) also taught me about how people preserve and sustain their culture though most cultures are quickly disappearing as the American one is becoming more and more prominent almost all around the globe. The PCC is a non-profit organisation where people from six different tribes: Hawaii, Tonga, Aotearoa, Fiji, Tahiti, and Samoa, all showcase the different tribe practices, ranging from coconut tree climbing to spear tossing. 

In Singapore, we could come up with large scale non-profit organisations such as the PCC, some existing examples being Chinatown and Little India, to showcase our culture to all citizens and make them feel proud about it so that it can continue to live on.

Picture of just one of the six different tribes that comprise the Polynesians, Hawaii

Diamond Head
We all hiked up Diamond Head's, an extinct volcano, crater, which was pretty fun to say the least, especially the part when we went through a tunnel. Sure, the steps were a handful and I was really glad to have taken the easy route upon exiting the tunnel, which did not include as many steps. However, once I got to the top, any fatigue that I had was forgotten. The view sure was incredible from up there and we could even see as far as the next island. 

View from the top of Diamond Head

Small Circle Island Tour
The different places of Oahu has helped to sustain the environment there as well as the diversity there. 

Hanauma Bay
Five years ago, almost all the fish had gone extinct in Hanauma Bay due to many tourists feeding fish and doing what typical tourists do. Alerted by this, the government banned too many visitors from visiting each day, limiting the number to around three hundred, so as to allow the species to recover. This worked and the bans are still in place, along with another limit to the time tourists can spend taking photos of the bay - fifteen minutes. Perhaps something like these bans could be done for the mangroves in Singapore as well to reduce pollution there.

Picture of Hanauma Bay with the mountain resembling a dragon... or a big lizard

Halona Blowhole
This blowhole is unique in the fact that it is formed by a lava tube. According to the tour guide, only if waves hit a certain point, the blowhole will well, blow up. Even if any other spot is hit with a wave, no matter how big or small, the blowhole will not blow up. Of course, it seems likely that this lava tube and the whole blowhole could actually erode over the years. However, I do not think there is any need for actions to prevent it from eroding and to sustain it. This is because the whole geyser would just become lower and lower, since the water only erodes the top of the blowhole and the insides, which could make it wider. I don't think it could totally cut off the whole blowhole from the surface.

Bottom left corner is where the blowhole is, with some steam-like gas escaping from it 
(I didn't manage to get a picture of the water gushing out though)

Sea Life Park
Sea Life Park was interesting, but rather small, since I ran out of attractions and shows to go to not long after I entered. However, the shows they put on such as the sea lion, dolphin and penguin shows were really entertaining. I also learnt how the Sea Life Park did help to sustain certain species which had trouble in their natural environments. For example, the people carrying out the live dolphin shows mentioned that populations of dolphins in the wild were suffering from overfishing, and that dolphins were treated well although in the Sea Life Park. This kind of system could be implemented in Singapore, using the Singapore Zoo, to protect species such as certain snakes and insects which are native to Singapore. The Singapore Zoo is already doing this but not all species they are protecting are from Singapore, in fact, most are from other places around the globe.

Picture of one of the sea lions at Sea Life Park

Waimea Valley
Waimea Valley is an enormous nature reserve, with many structures used long ago when tribes were dominant on the island of Hawaii such as the sleeping quarters of men and women. Also, there were certain areas, like the game area with rolling disks, which helped to give the visitors a more hands-on kind of experience of Hawaiian life in the tribes. There was also a man talking about his different uses of stones, some from which he made pestles. He mentioned how people had to ask for permission of the gods for use of simple things like rocks. They also had to state their mission and their purpose. Should they be with good intent, the gods will sent them a sign, a common one being a wind blowing, which will give them permission to get the rocks. Also, after doing so, one cannot deviate from what he has asked of the gods, for example, if he asked to take this kind of rock, he could not take another kind he stumbled upon while looking for his desired rock.

The 'Family of Rocks' meant to symbolise a real family with the biggest one being the father

Punahou School 
I was paired up with a student of Punahou School, Andrew, following him around campus for his various lessons. First up was Spanish, where I hardly understood a thing and had to use a textbook to participate in the class activity of drawing what a phrase means for someone else to guess it. Next was mathematics, specifically, geometry. The teacher was basically helping the students go through the various properties of the different shapes. I did do one of their worksheets too, discussing with Andrew and the other people at the table, Sarah, Laura and Dylan. Right before break was Medieval History, something absent from Singapore's syllables. We watched a movie, titled 'The Emperor's Club' which was about the values and morals people strived for back then. It was a pity we didn't finish the movie though as it was extremely interesting. The last lesson I had with Andrew was biology. The biology lab was something to be marvelled at. It had many aquariums, one with a large freshwater terrapin, another with various fishes and an eel and one with an endangered species of shrimp. The activities were really engaging because we actually had to taste various foods, ranging from a sweet named 'Sour Punch' to vinegar in order to find out how a berry could change our body's 'sour taste' to sweet.

On the second day, we attended Chinese and Physics classes with several Punahou students. 

All of the lessons were really interesting and engaging. Even the classrooms had several posters on the walls related to the subject. For example, in Spanish class, there were posters of football clubs such as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and in Maths class, there was a poster giving a brief history of Blaise Pascal. The teachers teach more through getting students to do things first rather than to tell them the concept straight from the start, which I find is a very useful technique.

Reflections by Gwendolyn

Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial

The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941 was a turning point in World War 2, and which without it Japan might had taken over all of Asia. It was because American lives were lost that the US decided to enter the war and fight against Japan. From it we can learn that war is a tragic thing that can and will take many lives, including innocent ones, and we should not go to war because of the huge human cost. The USS Arizona Memorial reminds us of those lost during the war and pay tribute to their sacrifices, and it helps us understand the tragedy of war and why we should avoid it as much as possible.

Interesting Facts:
The bombing began at 0755 and ended at 0955.

Because December 7 was a Sunday, many people were resting or at church, and the day before there was a concert for the sailors. As a result Hawaii became vulnerable as the people were not prepared for an attack.

A soldier shot a Japanese midget submarine and reported it to the higher-ups, but by the time the reply came it was too late to perform preparations as the attack had begun.

Nine of ten people in the midget submarines died; the remaining one became America's first Prisoner-Of-War (POW).

Said POW sparked a controversy regarding the Japanese people in Hawaii.

The USS Arizona and other battleships were named after the states in America.

I have no photos of Pearl Harbour or the USS Arizona Memorial because I forgot to bring my camera there.

Polynesian Cultural Center

Polynesian Cultural Center is a theme park about the 6 different tribes living in Hawaii: Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa.

It keeps their traditional traditions and culture alive, and enriches visitors when they come with their culture. For example, visitors will learn how the Samoa obtain coconut oil with their various tools, and their family structure; the men does most of the chores, such as hunting, fishing and cooking, but they are allowed to have up to seven wives.

 Traditional Hawaiian dance.
 Traditional Tonga dance.
 Traditional Tahiti dance.
 Traditional Aotearoa dance.
 Traditional Samoa dance.
 Traditional Fiji dance.

Traditional Tahiti wedding

Pali Lookout
Pali Lookout is a lookout located in the middle of a mountain ridge. Because it is the only way in between the mountain ridge, all the wind blowing towards it concentrates in that one lookout and thus the wind is especially strong. It is a site of historic significance as it was the place where King Kamehameha finally managed to unite all six tribes by pushing his enemies off the cliff and thus should be protected, and the two peaks between it was used by the Japanese as guides to Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941. It is sustains the
history of the Hawaiian people, and thus the Hawaiian culture, and it is also sustaining the surrounding nature.

Diamond Head
Diamond Head is a natural crater in the center of an extinct volcano and it is of great historic and economic value to Hawaii. Diamond Head was named by Captain James Cook as when he was at sea he saw its apex glittering and thought he found diamonds, but instead he found calcite crystals and the island of Oahu. Thus it is a well-known landmark of Oahu and a popular tourist destination. However, because of its popularity, the hiking trail on Diamond Head might not be good for the environment. Tourists who do not respect nature often toss rubbish off the trail into the bushes, including cigarette butts which could lead to a devastating fire. An example of the consequences of disrespectful tourists is Hanauma Bay. Tourists overfed the fish in the bay and the overfed fish died. Now, after fish stock increased, there are limitations when visiting the bay. To wrap up, Diamond Head is an important historic site, but its current use as a tourist attraction might not be sustainable.

View of part of Hawaii from the top of Diamond Head.

Hanauma Bay and Blowhole and Beach and Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail
Hanauma Bay, the blowhole, the beach and the trail to Makapu'u Lighthouse were all very beautiful and scenic, but if they are not properly maintained the consequences could be disastrous. For example, as mentioned above, tourists at Hanauma Bay overfed the fish in the bay and the overfed fish died. Now, after fish stock increased, there are limitations when visiting the bay to ensure the same incident do not happen again. These places are very educational places and they show us how beautiful nature can be and hopefully learn how to treasure and protect them for not just the next generation, but for the good of Earth.

Weimea Valley
Weimea Valley is a scared place to the people of Hawaii as it used to be where the high priests and other important people lived. Before entering one must seek permission from the spirits by singing a song. Within the valley, the rangers cultivate endangered plant species, with special attention to taro because they cannot grow without human intervention. Most of the taro species have been made redundant by modern inventions – a species of taro which tubers when mashed makes a sort of glue is an example – and are thus in danger. The guide was very detailed about the old Hawaiian way of life and the reconstruction of the old Hawaiian housing involved very in-depth research. He and others sustain the culture and traditions of the olden days and ensure that their culture will continue to pass through the generations to come.

Punahou School
Punahou School is an American school that caters students from kindergarten to high school. It is one of the best private schools on Oahu. Their school system is very different from the typical Singapore school system. Each student has a different daily schedule for a six-day week and no two student has the same schedule while in Singapore, we are separated into classes and each class has their own schedule. They are also much richer in terms of courses offered as the graduating criteria is different in America and Singapore: America only needs a certain number of hours of each subject to graduate, while Singapore needs students to pass a nationwide examination to graduate.