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"YingHua in Beijing" Honors Program Journal

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9/17/2005


by Lihongxie on 0000-00-00

I don¡¯t quite know where to begin to tell the story of my daughter Xie Rachel Kulikoff¡¯s adventures in the last few months. An easy place to start is to report my phone conversations with her this weekend.
I look forward so much to Friday and Saturday mornings when I can have long conversations with Rachel and we speak in Chinese almost entirely.
On Friday morning Rachel reported to me her scores on a math test and a Chinese test:
¡°I got my lowest score ever¡ªguess what it is; guess low.¡±
¡°50?¡±
¡°You really think I am that bad?¡±
¡°70?¡±
¡°Yah, I got 70. There are some Chinese words I don¡¯t know. If I know all of them, I may be able to get 100. The highest grade is 97 and the lowest is 50 something.¡±
She said she really likes the math classes. For one practice, the teacher gave the students three problems. If you get one problem wrong, you get 33 points deducted; if you get one step wrong, you get 5 points deducted. She got 95 for having missed one step. To help the students improve accuracy, her teacher will sometimes give only one problem: if you get it wrong, you get 0; if you get it right you get 100. Rachel says she is slower than some kids (though not all of the kids) in computation because she was not trained the same way. She wants us to bring math workbooks to her so that she can practice to improve her speed. I suggested that she talk to her math teacher about it.
Then onto Chinese and English.
¡°For Chinese, I got special treatment. My teacher told me to do only parts of the test and she adjusted the grading for these parts. I got 71. If I had to do everything other students did, I probably couldn¡¯t even get 20.¡±
I told her I was very proud of her, as I find myself saying again and again these days, in e-mails to her and in phone conversations.
She got 97 on the first English test¡ªthree points were deducted because she didn¡¯t know the Chinese term for which she was asked to provide the English equivalent. For the second English test, her teacher asked her to take a look at the test. Students get 40 minutes to complete the test. After she told her teacher she can complete it in 5 minutes, her teacher told her not to bother. (She had been reading Harry Porter 6 during English classes¡ªtwice¡ªbecause she had nothing else to do. This is something that my husband and I want to discuss with someone at Limai when we go at the end of September.)
She told me about marching (jun1 xun4), something that students at public school did before the start of school. She said she didn¡¯t understand the command¡ªit doesn¡¯t sound like Chinese to her. So I mimicked a few commands¡ª¡°xiang zuooooooooooooooooooooooooooo zhuan¡±; ¡°xiang you kannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn qi¡±¡ªand she laughed. She said she had trouble distinguishing using the toe part vs. the heel part of her foot for turning¡ªI couldn¡¯t help her there.
I asked about biology; she said she now can understand a little (after the first biology class, she told me that other than three English letters¡ªDNA¡ªshe didn¡¯t understand anything else in that class). She told me that she can follow politics alright¡ªcan even read the textbook. (About a week ago, I talked to her politics teacher and asked about the material for that class. She said that this semester it focuses on moral values and psychological health¡ªconcept of bravery, etc. My very left-leaning historian husband was quite disappointed: he had hoped that Rachel would be learning about the four modernizations or the Gang of Four.
We talked about other things as well, but my memory is getting foggy. I will end here with a few comments.
As I ¡°watch¡± my daughter from this great distance in my mind¡¯s eye and see a happy, resilient girl taking confident strides toward her own future, I cannot help but think about the not-too-distant past--those difficult times when the challenge of being a good parent to a precocious and very stubborn daughter overwhelmed me, when the daunting task of guiding her through the turbulent pre-adolescent (and adolescent) years seemed far beyond my reach. As parents we do not always understand how and when our children change, and we are often surprised for better or worse. But I am happy about where Rachel is¡ªpsychologically and emotionally¡ªright now. Nothing alone accounts for this new Rachel, but I believe that she went to the YiB summer 2005 camp at the right time, and the triumphs and difficulties she experienced there were a good preparation for the bigger step she has taken.

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