For the love of our children

(Front row, standing, fifth from left) Bryan, Athena, Amelia, Xiang Lin and Gabrielle Ann posing with the star performers who are trained in Shaolin kung fu.

IN conjunction with Teachers Day last month, The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education programme (Star-NiE) ran a mini contest inviting students to convince the organisers why their favourite teachers deserved a holiday in Resorts World Genting.

The students submitted their entries in earnest, least expecting to earn anything in return. But lo and behold, the contest sponsor, Resorts World Genting, decided that it was an apt moment to treat the students too as the highland resort held their own International Children’s Day festivities from May 27 to June 11.

The brainchild of Resort World Genting’s communications and public relations vice-president Katherine Chew, she hoped that the students would go back to school with valuable experiences.

And they most certainly did! The students who submitted the top five entries from the Primary and Secondary school categories were invited to join the festivities up in the cool highlands on an all expenses-paid two-day, one-night trip.

Jumping at the chance to enjoy the holiday were five contest participants: Gabrielle Ann Jeremiah, 15, Bryan Wan Jia Jie, 13, Athena Siow, 12, See Xiang Lin, 11 and Amelia Siow, 10. The other students who were not able to make the trip will receive an indoor theme park ticket each when it reopens later this year.

(From left) Athena, Amelia, Gabrielle Ann, Xiang Lin and Bryan enjoying the Awana SkyWay cable car ride that offered them a birds eye view of the forest at Genting Highlands.
(From left) Athena, Amelia, Gabrielle Ann, Xiang Lin and Bryan enjoying the Awana SkyWay cable car ride that offered them a birds eye view of the forest at Genting Highlands.

Upon arrival at the rainforest-themed reception area of First World Hotel, the festivities quickly caught on as pretty ballerinas were seen flitting around in colourful dance skirts and tutus. “Paradise: Forest Fairies Ballet Dance” saw young performers whirl and twirl as they entertained visitors in a land of make-believe.

The resort-wide festival carried the tagline “art, dance and music” and it was a feast for the senses as the students soaked up the carnival atmosphere.

After checking in to First World Hotel, a Guinness World Records holder as the world’s largest hotel with a record of 7,351 rooms, students took photographs with favourite characters from “Storyland: Cosplay Meet & Greet” at the Open Car Park of Genting Grand.

Among some of the characters were Belle and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, Naruto, Sailor Moon, Snow White and the Joker.

After soaking up the festive sights and sounds, students moved on to an exciting and mouth-watering activity – pizza-making! This culinary experience was carried out at Motorino, a world-famous pizza franchise.

Motorino, hailed by New York Times food writers as the best authentic Neopolitan Italian pizza restaurant in New York, has multiple outlets in New York, two in Hong Kong, two in Manila and one in Singapore. The Motorino outlet at Resorts World Genting is Malaysia’s first and was opened in December 2016. It is owned by Resorts World Genting.

Chefs can be seen through gold-bordered Italian windows as they knead dough on white marble countertops. Restaurant guests whet their appetities as they see chefs preparing pizzas in the open concept kitchen.

The restaurant, located at SkyAvenue, takes on the look and feel of an old refurbished space and keeps to the design of American outlets in the 1920s.

Eye-catching features of the restaurant include two large pizza ovens shipped in from Naples in Italy. These ovens with low dome and narrow mouth cook pizzas in 60 to 90 seconds.

Supervised by the resort’s SkyAvenue F&B executive chef Andrea Zorcolo, students were shown how to handle the dough for the pizza base. After shaping the base, they had the freedom of choosing their own toppings to create their very own pizzas.

The students were assisted by sous chef Mohd Syahriman Zulkifli and demi chef Mohd Mokhzani Safie.

Zorcolo was impressed at how fast the students picked up the pizza-making skills.

“Brava! They’re good! Impressive – look at what they did!” he said.

He was especially impressed with the youngest participant, Amelia, who was able to shape the pizza base on the first try. “She’s a genius!” Zorcolo said as he gave her the nickname Mini Chef.

Nicknamed Mini Chef, Amelia tries to insert her pizza into the oven assisted by sous chef Mohd Syahriman.
Nicknamed Mini Chef, Amelia tries to insert her pizza into the oven assisted by sous chef Mohd Syahriman.

Gabrielle Ann thoroughly enjoyed the pizza-making experience at Motorino. “Pizza making was my favourite part of the trip!”

“I simply love the smell of a fresh oven-baked pizza. Even the raw ingredients at Motorino smelled so crisp and good. Also, I love pizzas.”

The students feted on their own large pizzas. Complemented with Motorino’s chicken wings and meatballs, they could eat to their heart’s content. It was indeed an authentic Italian gastronomic experience!

Later that night, an action-packed theatrical event, called the Soul of Shaolin, was in store for them. The play was the first original Asian production to appear on Broadway.

The critically acclaimed show earned a nomination at the 63rd Tony Awards in 2009. It has also held more than 500 performances worldwide in countries like the United States, Australia, Italy, Norway, India, Korea, Turkey, Macau, Hong Kong and Turkey.

The Soul of Shaolin story begins with a woman who was forced to abandon her son when she finds herself pursued by a group of bandits. The woman hides her child before jumping off a cliff in her effort to evade capture.

The child is later found by Na Luo, a Shaolin kung fu monk. Years go by, and the child, named Hui Guang, grows strong and healthy. He is raised and taught by Na Luo and also Miao Xing, the abbot of the Shaolin temple.

The play progresses with a riveting storyline and an impressive display of Shaolin kung fu.

“They’re so synchronised!” marvelled Amelia as the performance showcased impressive martial arts stunts.

Bryan was impressed to see the kung fu performance live. “My favourite part of the show was the last scene when the main character had to fight his way out of the monastery.” Given the chance Bryan said: “I would watch it again.”

Gabrielle Ann also found the show interesting because it not only exhibited remarkable kung fu moves but also had a storyline that brought forth many feelings. “It wasn’t just action, but also about a mother-son relationship. It was a good watch.”

The day ended with much excitement as the students had an exclusive photo session with the cast of the Soul of Shaolin.

Kung fu enthusiasts would be happy to know that this magnificent martial art show is currently on-going and will end on June 26.

The next day, students had a hands-on ice cream-making class. The lesson was lead by First World Hotel F&B department outlet chef Mohd Rodzee Ramli.

He explained that Resorts World Genting is the only resort with an in-house gelato brand. Those who enjoy this silky and scrumptious dessert can enjoy it without the guilt as its fat content is reduced.

The taste and smooth texture are a result of its quality ingredients, which are imported from Italy. The presentation, texture and taste too originate from Venice, Italy.

There is much focus on the nutrient aspect, hence the product has no added colours, preservatives and additives.

The students had a ball creating their very own ice-cream designs. They even got around to naming some of them. It was a morning where they had all the gelato they could eat.

After the hands-on session, students got to experience the new cable car system, Awana SkyWay. They rode a glass-floored gondola, which afforded them spectacular views as they took a leisurely ride over the forest greenery.

Bryan said that this was the highlight of the trip for him as it was his first ride on board a cable car. “I had wanted to take a cable car in Singapore but it was too expensive. Now I finally get to experience riding a cable car. The view from the gondola is fantastic.”

Xiang Lin too shared that she had never been on a cable car ride. She loved everything about the trip.

“It’s great because I got to learn how to make ice-cream and pizza. I also made new friends along the way,” she said.

For Athena, the best thing about the trip was the weather in Genting. “I really like the fact that it is not hot in Genting!”

She also added that the activities were special. “We not only got to eat delicious food, but we also got to make them ourselves. I had a lot of fun.”

Chew was pleased that the students enjoyed their stay. “With the lessons in making pizza and ice-cream, we hope that it has inspired them and given them ideas of what they can do at home.”

Chew also hoped that the themes in Soul of Shaolin gave students insight on kindness, perseverance and courage. “I hope the storyline about the love between mother and child brings them closer to their families. I also hope it inspires them to be better people who contribute to the community.”

“We want them to know that there is so much more that they can do up in Resorts World Genting. Basically, we want students to experience things that they normally wouldn’t. I truly hope that they have happy and lasting memories of their time here.”

As for the students’ teachers who will be enjoying their trip to Resorts World Genting later this year, Chew said that they can look forward to a relaxing holiday. “There will be a spa treat coupled with shopping and dining experiences. Teachers work very hard to teach, so it will be a time for the lucky teachers to unwind.”

The teachers will be enjoying an all-expenses-paid two-day, one-night trip sponsored by Resorts World Genting. This holiday is slated for November 2017.

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