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"YingHua in Beijing" 2011 Summer - Final Reflection by Robert, the Counselor

by Liao,Bonnie on 2011-08-07

My name is Robert Zhang. I am 20 years old. I was a counselor for YingHua in Beijing 2011. How do you know what a person is all about? That is, how do you know what kind of man he is? I will ask him his intentions. Why does he do what he does? For what reason does he do anything that he does? This is a hard question to answer for anyone, but it is vital for every person to have a clear answer to this question in his own heart, for the alternative is that a man does something haphazardly, randomly, and these only become recipes for vanity. The answer that proceeds out of that man, in truth, describes what kind of seed he has planted to grow, in his work or his life or his relationships, and therefore what kind of fruit he will bear in spending time doing that thing, or nurturing that seed.

So how will one judge a Summer Camp? I will ask it the same question I asked the man. What is its intention? YiB gives all its students and teachers a very clear answer. It is a Summer Language and Leadership Institute and it exists to teach the Chinese language, the Chinese culture, to cultivate leadership qualities, and in a broader sense, through all things, guide students in ways that they may discover themselves in order to become better people. So in all things, in all things that YiB spends its time doing, this is the seed that it nurtures and its fruit is great. Look at all the final reflections of the students from this year and years past, and the fruit becomes evident, therefore the seed becomes evident, and therefore YiB has not made false claims concerning itself, and we have heard and judged correctly.

One out of the many things that makes Liao Laoshi a great teacher in relation to what I have learned this year as a counselor is that she creates for her students, like me, the opportunity to discover for themselves how to become better people. This method of teaching is the one of the strongest, but also the most difficult, because it is hard to tell when to push and when to let go, but Liao Laoshi excels at it. The first seed she plants in her students is a mindset of positivity, a self-willingness to learn, and to actually try to be better at whatever they\'re doing. Then she will believe in you, and you will try harder or smarter than you ever did because of it, you will realize your own results, and following that, you will begin to believe in yourself.

How do you get kids to feel like you believe in them? Paradoxically, you don\'t do much. More importantly, it\'s what you choose not to do. And Liao Laoshi is great at this. When the average educator might reflexively lecture a student after he does something wrong and be done with the whole situation, Liao Laoshi takes this opportunity to really make clear to the student that he should really just think about it himself. What exactly did you do wrong? How do you feel about it? How can you be better in the future? Write a small essay, give it back by the end of the day, and we\'ll talk about it. 

By doing this, she implicitly sends this message: \"I am entrusting you with your own discipline. I believe that you can discipline yourself.\" And then the student will actually reflect and discipline himself, more than if he were to simply be on the receiving end of discipline, just blankly absorbing all the lecturing and punishment without really making any effort to change. This time, the discipline comes from within and is therefore significant. If no one ever trusts that student with his own discipline, no one gives him the chance to ever let him change himself, and he will never learn how to do that. This is why Liao Laoshi is a great educator. The lessons students learn in this way create strong and lasting impressions. This method has the power to really change the core of how a student makes his choices. Not only in disciplinary situations, but in trying new things, taking responsibility, and pushing oneself past limits, anything.

And I\'ve learned so many things, because she\'s used this same method of teaching on me. She only told me explicitly to help her write the newsletter, and outside of that, honestly I could just be on vacation if I wanted to do because she has no time to be breathing down my neck, but nevertheless she expects me to do a good job on my own, and knowing this and feeling this, that\'s enough for a 20 year old to rise up to the occasion.

Now the hard part is, now that I have free reign, what exactly do I do? I get in what I put in so I have to think about it my intentions and goals and once I felt like things were going smoothly enough with what I was doing and how I was doing it, I learned that it\'s definitely a bad idea to stop there. I have to go the extra mile while I\'m feeling content. But a nagging question is \"Why should I exert myself to go the extra mile?\" And this is where establishing intentions come into play because I can remind myself in times when I would rather be lazy. So I would think, for the benefit of the students and the teachers around me.

And what else I learned is that I should definitely ask for feedback and seek criticism from other people when I feel like there\'s nothing more I can do, because I can\'t presume to be taking into account all aspects of my job. I\'m just one guy. Furthermore, I\'m just one guy with a self-absorbed mindset. Therefore, other people should have extremely valuable criticism I can learn from because they hold an entirely different perspective. And it\'s going to be uncomfortable to hear, and might even hurt, but it\'s for the better. I have to push through that pride and humble myself in order to change. Then, I analyze and reflect on the criticism according to my best judgment and then change my behavior in the future to make YiB a little better. It\'s always going to be an adaptive process, and feeling disappointed with myself sometimes and feeling that things are difficult are actually good signs. In order to be successful, it\'s always going to feel hard, because I always have to push past my comfort zone in order to do better. If I\'m feeling content and restless, I\'m probably doing something wrong because I could be doing more. And that\'s what I learned.

And that\'s YiB for me. It\'s a great experience for kids of all ages, and for Liao Laoshi and all the staff it\'s a labor of love. Profit incurred from this entire venture by Liao Laoshi is negligible. The reward is in the work for her and for all of us. So as for our intentions? We do it for the the kids, and the fruits are clear to see.



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