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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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by Liao,Bonnie on 2011-07-05

Dear Parents,

Today has been an incredible day.

We departed at 8 a.m. to visit the Temple of Heaven for two hours based on the trip plan designed by the students (sort of).

Then we visited a pearl factory, where the students learned the characteristics of fresh-water pearls and how to tell the real pearls from the fake ones. Some students carefully picked presents for their parents, grandparents, or even siblings.

We then went to a special dumpling place, called 天津百饺园 \"Tianjin Hundred Dumplings\", for lunch. The students observed how the professionals make dumplings behind a large glass window and took some pictures. We tried 8 different kinds of dumplings.

Then we went to the Beihai Park (\"Winter Palace\") to row boat for an hour. It\'s the traditional kind of row boat - with no motor and pedal. The students were split into 5 boats. It was a fun learning experience as most of the kids did not know how to row a boat!

We then went to the \"9 dragon screen\" and \"Hall of Spiritual Peace\" to watch special gold fish. Matt was kind enough to spend 5 yuan for the special fish food and let everybody to use his fish food to feed the fish.

We walked to the Jade Flowery Islet with the symbolic white dagoba. It\'s a long walk, but we were singing along to the music of \"Peng You\" (Friend), \"Lean on Me,\" and \"faiy tale.\" The students sang the America\'s national anthem at the top of the Dagoba celebrating July 4.

We rushed to Jingshan Park next door and climbed to the third pavilion (the biggest one) to practice our songs. We sang Peng You, Lean on Me, Thankful Heart, and National Anthem. It was very exciting.

We left Jingshan Park and heading to Beijing Sheng Ji Art School about over an hour drive away.

This school was founded in 1996 and has graduated over 3000 students. After the 5-12 Sichuan Earthquake in 2008, this school has accepted over 40 orphans and very poor students from Sichuan and Qinghai. Most of the students from that area are Tibetans.

The 40+ students were waiting for us. We had dinner together. Learning how to order food was a challenging and new experience for our students, but the food was very good at the cafeteria.

After dinner, the two groups of students had a performance (both on short notices). The Sheng Ji students have been studying performing arts for over two years and have toured 13 countries including four times to the US.

They performed Tibetan dances, songs, and marshal art. Our students performed \"Lean on Me\" first. Then Dave performed a special marshal art routine. We also performed our group marshal art routine. Then Matt and Ben played Guitars. Robert played Guitar and sang a song. Then we did the morning exercise routine (guang-bo-ti-cao). Then Ben and Matt played a song using one guitar while Chauncey accompanying with a Chinese drum.

The final piece started with our students singing the American National Anthem (the third time in the day) following by \"Peing You.\" As they were singing, we encouraged the Sheng Ji students to sing along and get on the stage.. It was a beautiful  scene.

The last song was \"Thankful Heart.\" The Sheng Ji students knew the full sign language and our students followed them. During the chorus part, everybody knew the sign language and expressed their \"thankful heart\" using sign language to the teachers watching them and to all those who have cared and helped them. The performance reached a climax. Many were moved to tears.

Here\'s the lyrics for the song \"Thankful Heart.\"

我来自偶然像一颗尘土 I\'ve come from nowhere like a grain of dust
有谁看出我的脆弱  who can tell I can be fragile
我来自何方我情归何处 wherever I come and wherever my feeling flows to
谁在下一刻呼唤我 don\'t know who would be calling my name next

天地虽宽这条路却难走 The heaven and earth are wide though this path has been difficult for me to travel
我看遍这人间坎坷辛苦 I have seen all kinds of the hardship in this world
我还有多少爱我还有多少泪 for how much love I have left and how much tears I have left, 
要苍天知道我不认输 I want the \"god of heaven\" know I will never give up!

感恩的心感谢有你 Thankful heart, grateful for there is you.
伴我一生让我有勇气作我自己 accompanying me all my life encouraging me to be myself
感恩的心感谢命运 Thankful heart, grateful for fate,
花开花落我一样会珍惜 whether flowers are blossoming or withering, I shall treasure them the same. 
You may watch a video of the song sung by the children from a newly built elementary school in Sichuan (thanks to Nestle) at http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNzc1ODY4MDg=.html

This second video is the song sung by the children at the Guang Ai school that we\'re going to visit next week.

We left Sheng Ji Art School at 10:30 p.m. and got home at 11:30 p.m.

So much for now.


Dear Parents,

Thanks to Bonnie for updating you even though we got back really late last night at 11:30. I did not write anything because of the time. I think it took a lot of effort for her to do this. The importance of the daily e-mail took precedence over her extreme exhaustion from yesterday and I assume she pushed herself just to write it. Personally I thought the sleep was more important and instead planned to write something today, so thanks to Liao Laoshi again for writing the e-mail even in those trying circumstances. Liao Laoshi already covered all the basics so I\'ll just try to fill in some interesting details.

We learned that the Temple of Heaven had two visits from the emperor a year, one in the summer and winter solstice, to pray for rain and good harvests. There was a lot to see.

The Temple of Heaven Park is sort of a gathering place for a lot of Beijing Elderly. They like to go there and congregate, play jian zi, dance, do martial arts, taichi, and play a special kind of ball-game. The kids got to play jianzi and the ball game with some gracious elders who offered toe  play with us.

At the top of Jingshan Park and Beihai Park, we also practiced our performance songs for that night and sang the American National Anthem because it was Independence Day, July 4th. We drew a lot of attention because of this and many people filmed us and took pictures of us.

The rowboating at Beihai Park was really a good team-building exercise because the stakes were high to work together. First, there was competition but more importantly, if two people could not row the boat in approximate unison, that boat would never be able to dock and would just be floating on shore. I was in a boat with Dave, Darren, Matt, and Brandon. Brandon, 9, was very quick to be yelling orders and getting angry and worked up when the boat was not getting anywhere, although he was not doing any rowing. It was the first time I saw him so extrovertedly emotionally invested in something. It reminded me of when people get really emotional when watching football games, although they have zero control over the outcome.

The most exciting part of the day was visiting the students Beijing Sheng Ji Art School. Everyone was first reluctant to mix with the other students (except me), but eventually Bonnie and I pushed around our kids to get to mixing. I moved James\' food to another table with strangers and at first he was adamant about not going but I saw him enjoying himself over there a couple of minutes later. 

The kids were really amazing to talk to. All of us here at YiB being so blessed and fortunate and privileged, we almost never get the chance to encounter, in reality, the tragedy we just simply talk about. But here we were, sitting, talking, and eating with these kids who have lost their friends, families, and their entire way of life due to the Sichuan earthquake or due to poverty. It was definitely a much more eye-opening experience to encounter these people in the flesh rather than just talk about it. I think at the end of the day, whatever notions we students have assumed about these kids or kids like these, our perceptions become clearer because of these opportunities and we learn that we are all not so different and that we should all help each other. Later in my room when we got back, Darren, Brandon, Dave, and I all prayed for these kids among other things( We our Christians).

The performances were extremely exciting. I think some of our kids felt awkward having to perform our shoddy performances in between the refined and skillful performances of the Art School Kids, however, what can one expect right? Anyway, we got treated to a lot of cultural dance routines from Tibet, and some Tibetan style singing as well. Later I tried to ask the guy who sang to try to teach me his Tibetan singing style because I\'m a singer. I couldn\'t grasp the essence. He told me it would take a couple of years. I thought it wasn\'t that hard but it\'s definitely a lot harder than it looks.

As for the atmosphere of the place, all their kids had tests the very next day. Despite this daunting pressure on the horizon, they were extremely warm, friendly, and hospitable, and very very enthusiastic in their performances, in clapping, in cheering, and in talking with us. There were a lot of pictures taken, and although we pushed their schedule so late, a lot of them came out as we were leaving to wave goodbye to us. I personally could not imagine anything better.



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