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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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by Liao,Bonnie on 2012-07-03

Dear Parents,

Another long, busy day today! It was only the second day that we did the mile run in the morning, because of the bad weather and that we have been late getting home. Congrats to Alice (age 10!) for being the first girl to finish.

After breakfast, we headed to the China Science and Technology Museum. Bonnie required that the students spent the first 30 minutes or more in the Glory of China exhibition hall, which displayed many ancient Chinese technology invention and innovation as well as ancient Chinese science exploration. For the rest of the visit, the younger students (and many of the older students) had lots of fun at the interactive exhibits; others could make connections with what they learned in science class.

We then went to lunch at a local resident’s house, making all of the teachers happy for having a taste of home. The students also did a good job of sharing the small fried dumplings so each of them got one. To get to where we ate, we rode in a rickshaw (san3 lun2 che1). Bonnie encouraged the students to give a 5 yuan per person tip at the very end of their rides; Bonnie and I both hoped that this would cause the students to reflect on how hard the riders' jobs really are, especially in comparison to their own lives. We then had “Liu Yeye” (of New York Times fame, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/world/asia/chirps-and-cheers-chinas-crickets-clash-and-bets-are-made.html?pagewanted=all , Liu Yunjiang) told us about crickets, actually using some of the words in the article, about eating better than we do and being worth more than a horse. He is charismatic and well-spoken, and the students enjoyed the talk immensely, translating for each other and listening avidly.

After the introduction for the cricket culture, we went to another local resident's house to learn about painting on the inside of small bottles. The hostess introduced herself and her family—her aunt taught her the trade and lives in the hutong small house that we went to—and then talked about how to paint. The paintbrushes are made from wolf hair and the bottles have to be specially sandpapered in order for the paint to work right. The students had a chance to try and to buy some products, and many once again had the lesson drummed into their heads that many things are harder than they look. We then visited the drum tower and were able to see/hear a drum performance. The view of Beijing was quite nice, though Tian An Men square was obstructed by Jing3 Shan1, which we’ll visit next Monday. It was also really fun to see an original ancient drum as well as its modern reconstructions.

We had Peking duck for dinner, and then got held up by traffic. On the bus ride, many of the girls decided to learn and sing along with the recording of the YiB’s theme song, Peng2 You3 (Friends), and we were impressed with both their enthusiasm and how well they were able to sing after only hearing the song once.

We arrived at the acrobatics show around 30 minutes late, but we still got to see many amazing, fantastic, scary performances. One performace was 8 motorcycles in one small hollow sphere, going around in circles with their glow-in-the-dark motorcycles. It looked quite cool, but also extremely scary—Bonnie had her hands over her eyes for most of the act.

The youngest girls performing the "spinning disks," are only 13 years old, who were doing all kinds of acrobatic moves while each hand kept five disks spinning at the end of rods! However some of our girls did not believe the spinning disks were real skills; they thought that the disks were fixed to the end of the rods. Bonnie wanted our kids to meet these incredible performers to debunk their skeptism and to have a closer look at the life of these hard-working young performers, who are at their ages. Normally such a wish would not be granted. Fortunately incidentally Bonnie ran into a Chinese counselor from 2005 (the year Rachel went to YiB), who has a close tie with the troop. With her help, our kids got to get on the stage after the end of the show and spent some valuable time with some of the cast and . Our kids got a chance to try to spin those disks at the rods' ends. Again, for something looks so easy when one of the girls demonstrated for us, it was actually VERY hard for our kids to get the five disks started spinning let alone keep them spinning (and doing those incredible acrabatic moves!). Bonnie hope that the students could appreciate the level of skills these young performers have.

They had to practice at least 4-5 hours a day since they were 6-7 years old and then for an entire year to prepare for their first performance.

We had no formal reflection tonight, though Bonnie and I encouraged students to reflect on their own. Tomorrow, we’ll take interested students (Eileen, Jamie, Alice, Serena, Seehanah) to go see Beijing New Talent Academy, where they are going to, or planning to go to, study for five months.

Rachel & Bonnie


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