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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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"YingHua in Beijing" 2012 Summer - Final Reflections


by Liao,Bonnie on 2013-03-24

[The following reflection essays were written by students attending the nonprofit “YingHua in Beijing” 2012 Summer Language & Leadership Institute. Almost every day, the students would sit in a circle to reflect on the day’s experience through writing and sharing. On the last Saturday before they went home, they were asked to reflect on their 4-week experience and what they would tell other kids about it. They had 20 minutes. All 24 students shared their experiences here. More information, such as the institute’s daily announcements and schedule, can be found at www.yinghuasummer.org . Contact: Dr. Bonnie Liao bonnieliao@yinghua.org (609.530.0399). Please feel free to share this document with your friends.]

Alexandra (13)

These past 4 weeks have been a lot of fun and tough. Some days have also been tougher than others, but I’ve learned you can push through those days, and suck it up happily!

The most I’ve enjoyed about this camp are the field trips. I like sightseeing and learning from the tour guide, Frank. One of my favorite trips was the Great Wall. We all got through it together, and we kept pushing each other. I also enjoyed eating ice cream and water melon. The classes were a little tough because I’m not that good in Chinese, but luckily we only had classes every other day. One thing that I didn’t enjoy was filling out the yellow books. Every time we went on a field trip, we had to take it out then put it away. To me it was just annoying because some days I was just really tired and sweaty. The Guang Ai School was a lot more fun than I thought. We really got to interact with the students when we went on the Great Wall trip. We also built up muscles on the trip as well. Also in the morning almost every day we did a morning routine and we ran the mile. At Guang Ai, there was a leadership program. I was in that group out of 7. It was hard. At first, no one would pay attention, but as we went on they would gather really quickly. This camp has been really a new experience.

I would recommend this camp. It would be a new and great experience to others. The only thing is when we go to Guang Ai School, I would still stay at the hotel rather than on campus. I’ve really enjoyed this camp and I hope to come back to China again soon.

Alice (10)

This YingHua summer camp has been a big change in my life. I LOVE this camp SO much & I’m considering coming next year. I think a lot more people should come. I know so many people who are not grateful about what they have, they don’t have great leadership skills, etc. This program will make them more grateful, a better leader, and all the other things we’ve learned. This is really fun & I like how we learn … in a fun way!

Visiting the Guang Ai School touched me. I liked working, and it was fun! I liked seeing the smiles on their faces whenever they saw us. They don’t really smile that much, & all this work is worth it. When we weren’t at Guang Ai, we had class and stuff. Class was really fun, & my teacher was really nice. Even if we annoyed her, or didn’t know a thing, she’d smile brightly at us and try to help us all as much as she could. I NOW know how hard it is to teach kids from my experience at Guang Ai, and I’m happy that a lot more people would have her as their teacher. The field trips were fun and tiring, & I was SO tired. I think all the energy was worth it because I learned so much about Beijing. That was part of the “physical” part including morning exercises. It was tiring, but I ended up getting 2nd place a few times in a row. Leadership, I learned that mostly at Guang Ai. I also learned it before the summer camp, but now I learned tons more. Being a leader ISN’T easy.

I think more people should come to this program because, 1, it’s really fun, 2, you learn SO much, 3, you feel like a better person, 4, you become more of a leader, & 5, you make new friends. Having fun is important because if there was no fun, why would you come? (At least that’s what most kids think.) Learning is important because if you come here & learn NOTHING, what’s the point? Being a better person is also really important because it’s like you come in like a rusty old penny, but come out as a golden coin. Being a leader is very important for it gets you ready for the path in front of you, & making new friends is very important or else you’ll be lonely.

Carmen (12)

This YingHua summer institute has taught me so much. I’ve learned the art of Chinese crafts, did physical exercise, learned about thankfulness and other virtues, and improved our Chinese. We’ve visited many cultural landmarks and tourist spots in Beijing and I’m starting to realize how important Chinese culture and history is.

We’ve spent many classes learning about Chinese brush painting, calligraphy and art with clay, learning that can further my understanding of China and its difference from other countries. The teachers tried their best to give all the understandings we need to learn in our classes and to let it sink into our brains forever or at least a long time. I’ve learned the hardships others have to go through every day that we have never even seen or heard about. Kung Fu (martial arts) is another thing that deepened our cultural experience with China. One of our trips was visiting Guang Ai School which is for kids that were a lot less fortunate and suffered many disasters in life. There I learned the art of giving instead of taking. I learned to cherish the things we have now, to also not take it for granted.

Going to a different country for a month and leaving your friends and families over summer vacation can be quite frustrating. I know I’ve been there. But you will soon learn that this will help you in the future. I hope that anyone who is going to this camp just because of their parents will stop and think about all the good things you learn like the culture and practicing your Chinese. I felt annoyed when I first came because I really didn’t want to go and now on the last day, I don’t want to leave and go home: I’ve learned so much and every person should learn as much from this as I did.

Dennis (12)

So during the 4 weeks that I was here, I had mixed feelings. Some good thoughts, some bad thoughts, but I never really made up my mind if I liked this camp or not. However, on the last day, I made up my mind. I really do like this camp. It’s just sometimes not suited for some people, as this camp really does require a lot of perseverance and hard work, both mentally and physically.

During the first week, I felt really unsatisfied that I was made to sleep on the temporary bed, which was as hard as wood. However, in the second week, I grew accustomed to it and could sleep in it just as well as the bed that I could sleep at home. This has taught me to be thankful for what you have and if you don’t like something, suck it up happily.

On the final week, we went to Guang Ai. We stayed in a motel which had actual beds and working TV. This taught me that once you grow used to things that are below your standards, the once “normal” things become a luxury. While teaching Chinese Yo-yo at Guang Ai, I felt frustrated because some students just kept on returning to me after I repeatedly showed them how to solve the problem. I had learned that patience and perseverance are a huge part of life.

So after these 4 weeks, here I am on the last day, writing my summary of the 4 weeks. The final part of essay criteria is whether I would recommend this program to a parent or kid. My answer is a definite yes. You don’t only learn things like Chinese and Chinese history/culture, but a lot of life lessons like integrity, hard work, and leadership. You will also have experiences that you will not find anywhere else, like visiting Guang Ai or bargaining at the markets. You will not only learn the things in the program, but actually experience them. This program holds so much fun and excitement, but also at the same time teaches so much, too. So really, if you are considering this program, I strongly recommend it.

Eileen (12)

Over the past four weeks at YiB, I’ve learned so much and done so much. I have climbed up the plant covered trail of the wild great wall, made lots of friends, learned how to “Guang Ai” my plate, and ran down a flooded Beijing street barefooted (water up to your knees) shouting “YOLO!!!” in the most unattractive voice ever.

When I first got to this camp, I thought all we were going to do was sit behind a desk for hours and learn Chinese in the most unfascinating way possible. I was wrong. Day by Day, I realized Chinese class was quite interesting. I was making lots of friends, and learning about the world every possible time I could. I learned so much about Chinese culture and history. Did you know that the empress kept glass tables in her living quarters at the summer palace so that they can be used to keep fish in? I learned to be more inquisitive and principled - being a little more curious to most things and to put my foot down and do what I thought was right. I learned that even though I’ve been told how grateful I should be for what I have, it is definitely true. The last week was a shocking blast of reality.

So if you’re a parent who’s considering to send your kids to this camp or a kid considering to go to this program, I hope you know you’ll do more than just learn more Chinese, you’ll have an experience that will last a lifetime.

Emily (13)

Throughout this YingHua summer program, we have done a lot of things and we’ve experienced a lot together. I liked this program and I would recommend it to students looking to improve their Chinese, physical strength, leadership skills, and knowledge about Chinese culture.

During this program, we tried Peking duck, made dough sculptures, jiaozi and friendships. We also went to the Guang Ai School, where we got to be leaders and work for others’ benefit. We also realized that some people have much less than we do, and we learned to be grateful for what we have. I like making dumplings (and eating them!), tasting duck and being with my friends during our lessons the most. The first two activities were cultural experiences. I will be very sad to leave my friends. At the Guang Ai School, a few of us (including me) helped build a wall for the Guang Ai students to draw pictures on. It would be called the “Ai Xin” Wall. It was hot and tiring work, but for 3 days, I worked endlessly on it until we were nearly finished. I did it not only for the Guang Ai kids, but also because it was fun. Also, we climbed the Grate Wall with a few Guang Ai students. It was tiring, but it helped us bond with the students. Thank you to YingHua camp for bringing us these opportunities.

I would definitely recommend this camp to anyone who wants to learn more about the Chinese culture and more of the Chinese language. My only complaint is that we can’t eat snacks, soda or fast food. Otherwise, this program has many fun activities and trips, including visiting TianTan [Temple of Heaven], YiHeYuan [Summer Palace], the Great Wall, TianAnMen, and more. One last thing: Watch out for the ku gua.

Ethan (9)

This whole camp was good. I say this because that we get to go to different places in China, learn new culture, eat new food, and live in different places. We also get to learn Chinese. I would recommend this to someone because it is fun.

Evita (16)

The four weeks in YingHua in Beijing Leadership Program was not how I expected it to be. The day I landed in Beijing, I already missed home and wanted to take the next flight back home. But I didn’t have to trudge around feeling depressed because this program surprised me and actually made me not want to leave so early.

Some memories are the ones that will stick with me forever and change the way I act and see things. The friends I made here are friends I will never make again. They have given me all the joyful memories of this camp and these people I met are the reasons why I wished I had more time in this camp. It wasn’t a program that only had fun. All the language classes I had to take and all the field trips we went on taught me a lot about Chinese culture. Being able to stand in all the ancient Chinese areas made me feel a sense of pride in my race. Every step I took was tiring and I did complain a lot, but looking back at the experience, I realized how valuable the memories actually are. Even though I was expecting a less strict program, I ended up having more fun than I thought I would only because I let myself have fun.

Coming to this program was definitely not a mistake even though I thought it would be one. All these memories I made with the people I met will stick with me forever. There is a lot of hard work, but a lot of the work is a once-in-a-life-time experience. I have suffered the last week, but it was all for the Guang Ai students and honestly, I would never be able to say in my life again that I helped build a brick wall. I was pushed to my limits physically through the heat, and mentally through the thoughts of leading people without being their leader. I had influenced people to do what was deemed “socially acceptable” and I learned how to use words to influence those people.

This program has done so much for me. I learned about Chinese culture and language so I could feel a sense of Chinese pride. Such memories as running to the ice cream stands and climbing the mountains of the Great Wall with my friends will always remind me that no matter how different the background, holding onto their past will only stop me from moving forward. I have experienced many things that I will never experience again the same way and that will change how I think and act in the future.

Frances (16)

Over these four weeks, I have learned and experienced a lot. In the beginning, I was a little skeptical about how this four-week camp would help me.

However, after the second week, I was starting to see the changes. For example, all our field trips made me more knowledgeable. For the topics I had already studied (Chinese-Japanese war, Forbidden City, Great Wall, etc.) I actually learned more. In the classroom, I got a chance to actually enhance my speaking and reading ability. It was really tough in the beginning because I had never been taught simplified Chinese. The most interesting part of being in Class B was reading “Journey to the West.”

The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I should be grateful for what I have. Even though I had always been taught and believed this, I got a good firsthand experience in this. This was especially ingrained in me when we went to Guang Ai School. While I learned a lot, what made the camp the best was the people. We got really close and have been dreading the day of “goodbyes.” Only at this camp have I ever gotten so close to people – especially this fast. I’m very glad I spent this past month here.

Jamie (12)

I really enjoyed these past 4 weeks with YiB. Of course, there were times when I wasn’t really happy, but I have good memories. I made friends and had fun, which was part of what I like about this program.

There were some really good times, like when we got ice cream or snacks. During free time, we hang out, talked or did homework. The times that I didn’t like was when I had to skip my shower and stay up late to do homework, and also sometimes at night when I was thinking about the mile and a half we were running the next day.

When we went to Guang Ai for the last week, it was a really good experience. We got to use some of the things we learned in leadership classes, and I liked helping to lead the group.

Also, I really enjoyed our field trips to famous places. Some places were really cool. I might want to go back sometime.

I was put in C class for Chinese classes, and though I struggled a little, I’m glad I was in that class. In my Chinese school, some things are pretty easy. And I’m glad I learned something.

Some of the classes, like calligraphy, puzzles, painting, etc., were really fun, especially the one where we learned the 9-ring puzzle. I really enjoyed solving it.

Almost every morning we go to Chaoyang Park for morning exercise. We run half a mile to get there, exercise, run a mile around the lake, and walk back. In the beginning, I dreaded going to the park because I hated running. I was always the last one to finish. I got really unhappy every morning. But after a while, it wasn’t so bad. Now, I don’t hate it any more, just dislike it.

This program did a lot for me. It is a good place to learn Chinese, learn about Chinese culture, go to well-known places, make friends, etc. I think it’s a good program and I recommend it to everyone. J

Julia (13)

“YingHua in Beijing” was a completely amazing experience for me. Before I came here, I was reading student reflections from past years. I remember thinking, “These kids all sound so happy, but this camp sure sounds boring with all the classes. I bet they hid all the negative essays.” Well, that definitely wasn't the case. These past four weeks, I have had so much fun and made so many friends, all while exploring the camp's firm goals of language, culture, physical exercise, and leadership.

At this camp, I took Chinese classes in the B (intermediate) level. We mostly learned from a textbook and read from Xi You Ji. Class is a lot more interesting than it is in my normal Chinese school in New York, and the teachers are really kind and helpful. These factors really motivated me to learn Chinese.

During the fourth week, we visited a Beijing school for underprivileged children called the Guang Ai School. This encompassed all the goals, but the ones that stood out the most were culture and leadership. In other places, learning about culture might be just reading a boring book about how people in Beijing live. But here, we really saw and experienced how people who are less fortunate live. During the fourth week, we also formed a leadership group. The rest of the people in the group and myself helped the teachers with what we were doing and sometimes even planned the camp's activities. It was a lot of work, but that experience really let me learn how to lead others.

If you are reading this and have not yet been to YingHua, you definitely should go. If you're a kid like me, I'll have you know: classes are interesting and fairly easy. You'll make lots of friends. Bring toiled paper wherever you go. You can't eat snacks. YingHua is so much fun! Also, you'll learn useful stuff. In conclusion, I really wish this camp went on for longer, and maybe I'll see you next year.

Justin (14)

The YingHua summer program has been a very exciting experience and has taught me a considerable amount about China and life. When I first found out about this program with my dad, I was very interested but skeptical. I was unsure about whether this program would be worth the time and a month of the summer. However, when I arrived at China, it was through the language lessons, cultural activities, and other people in China with less fortunate lives that helped make this camp so inspirational and educational.

One of the main reasons why I came to this camp was to learn Chinese. I had already attended a Chinese school on the weekends for eight years and accomplished nothing because I never paid attention. I vowed to learn more Chinese and in the camp, the students are separated into three different classes. Class A was the most basic class in which I was a student. Class B is intermediate while Class C is advanced. It is through these classes that I was able to recover some of the Chinese I forgot and to also add to my vocabulary. In fact, the classes made me motivated to study in a school in China for five months to have Chinese classes every day. Another reason that this program has been so educational is through the cultural activities.

Through the course of the month, the students have gone on many field trips to learn more of the Chinese culture. Such places were the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, Hu-Tongs, etc. We have learned many stories from ancient times and I have found them to be very interesting. Other than the areas that we visited, we also learned Chinese yo-yo, how to use nunchaku, feather-kicking, and more. Many objects that are essential with China will be seen. This program is also a leadership program which will help you change for the better.

Future campers will learn how to become better people and learn to be more grateful for their lives. As Liao Laoshi likes to say, “Suck it up happily,” even if you dislike something.

On the fourth and last week of the camp, we visited the Guang Ai School and stayed at a hotel nearby. The hotel had worse conditions than Yong An Hotel. This was the week that inspired and motivated me the most to work harder in everything I do. It also helped me feel much more grateful for my life and family. At the Guang Ai School, the students are mostly orphans or come from families that are too poor to support them. However, even though they have much less than most Americans have, they learn to be more grateful for what they have and seem to have a happier life actually. The Guang Ai students are some of the most talented people that I have ever seen and they are so intelligent and fast at learning. During this week, the YingHua students were to teach Chinese yo-yo, basketball, and English to the students. However, in a basketball game between YingHua and Guang Ai, it was us that got schooled and destroyed. The Guang Ai students work hard and practice intently in basketball, martial arts, badminton, table tennis, soccer, etc. When I see them all happy and grateful for what they have in their lives, I feel more grateful for my life with my parents and appreciate all the things they do for me such as taking me to sports and music lessons. It was through this program that I changed from a lazy person who takes many things for granted into someone who vows to study hard and help my parents more.

To the parents and children who are looking into this program, I strongly recommend it. It has completely changed my attitude on life and taught me to respect others more. It is 100% guaranteed that every student will learn something and I hope you decide to enroll in the YingHua program.

Karen (14)

Every morning we were required to run a mile as well as do morning exercise and martial arts. Physically, we all worked extremely hard and also in Guang Ai. We were forced to go on excruciating but satisfying hikes up the Great Wall (twice!) but in the end, it was a great life-time opportunity to bestow on ourselves.

In Guang Ai School, we learned about the stories about a few of the students and witnessed the hardships they had to endure every day. It made us appreciate what we have more and helped us see a whole new different world.

In Chinese class, we took diligent notes and memorized a large number of words. From being able to write 3-5 sentences, I learned more than 70 words and could write paragraphs after my session at YingHua.

YingHua camp really made me experience different aspects of life in Beijing. From visiting Guang Ai School to visiting many famous sightseeing spots, we have all been tourists, locals bargaining, and members of a closely knit community. This camp really changed my life and perspective on China and its capital, Beijing. Language wise, even though I was in Class A, I had to work hard every day, memorizing up to 30 words per class. I have made the most amazing friendships with people I felt I could relate to the most. The teachers worked so hard to make sure we were healthy and well and I really appreciate the hard work and effort they put in to make this camp program happen.

Kevin (13)

When my dad first signed me up to this camp, I was moaning and groaning because of my previous experiences at summer camps. But now I know that statement is completely untrue. I had a fun and enjoyable time at this camp. I made lots of new friends and learned lots of new things.

I learned a lot of interesting facts about leadership. I learned what made someone a leader and how I could improve my leadership skills. I didn't learn a lot of new Chinese words, probably because I never paid attention in class. I think that if I paid attention, I would have learned a lot of new things. I learned a lot of new cultural information about Beijing, and I visited a lot of new attractions and looked through old ones with a new pair of eyes and experienced new experiences. I thought I did well mainly because I tried a lot harder. I learned new martial arts steps and I tried lots of new foods. I thought some of them were the worst foods I had ever tasted in my life, such as bitter melon and cucumber. But I also liked a lot more of them, such as lychee, congee, peaches, bok choy, potatoes, and lots of other foods.

I thought this was an unforgettable experience in my life, and I will take what I have learned and put it to good use. I will always think about these as the best weeks of my life. I would encourage all of you to go because it may sound bad at first, but you should never judge a book by its cover.

Leo (12)

I can use many adjectives to describe this camp, YingHua. I can use strict, because of the many rules circulating above our heads daily, or relaxed, because of the hours of freedom we acquire daily as we finish our tasks. I can use boring, because of the hours every day in a classroom learning Chinese, or exciting, because of the multiple field trip days where a group of friends and I venture out in Beijing to learn new knowledge about a Chinese monument. However, if I had to use one adjective to describe YingHua, I would have to select challenging. Not quite challenging as in almost impossible, but the kind that eggs you on to achieve higher goals.

In YingHua, the main subjects taught are leadership skills, Chinese language, and Chinese culture. We spend the mornings of most days divided into three groups of varying levels of proficiency in the Chinese language, all diligently studying Chinese characters and pinyin. We sometimes spend the entire day roaming around Beijing in a bus to visit many Chinese museums and monuments to learn every bit of knowledge we can about Chinese culture. Occasionally we have a lesson on leadership skills, learning about the 10 things a leader needs, and multiple facts about our brain as we struggle to convert motivation into action.

There is never a day in this camp where I have not returned to my room exhausted and collapsed on the bed, tired buy happy. Every minute of our time is put towards learning and fun, and thank you to the teachers who make it possible for us kids to learn and have fun every day. Some days, we go on field trips the entire day, and we visit various interesting places that educate us about Chinese culture. Some days all our energy is put towards learning Chinese and becoming proficient with a paint brush, or learning to solve the nine-ring puzzle. No matter what we do every day, we always have lots of fun while learning things about Chinese culture, and that is not easy for any camp to do, much less a camp with 24 students and only 5 teachers and counselors.

A main goal of summer camps is to create a challenging yet exciting environment for the kids, and to teach them to strive for knowledge. YingHua contains multiple activities that are very challenging and yet provokes us students to try harder and strive for success. YingHua creates an environment perfectly balanced between education and fun.

One important concept YingHua does its best to teach us kids is to learn to be grateful for what you have. I myself, having stayed in a 0-star motel for a week or so, and then suddenly moved into a 4-star hotel, learned to appreciate the slightly shabby corridors and dirty carpets of the 4-star hotel. One major activity of YingHua is helping a school, Guang Ai, a school for kids who were found homeless and wandering the streets. After seeing their living conditions, I found myself staring in awe at my former self, who believed that the conditions I were living in were poor. No one truly understands poverty unless they work, eat, and live as impoverished kids do. Poverty is one of these things that, to me, always happens to someone else. YingHua helps us understand how fortunate we are, and teach us to be grateful for everything we have, and not to waste something as trivial and daily to us as food, as food is something that kids at Guang Ai take so seriously that if a kid doesn’t finish his plate, he does not eat at the next meal.

All in all, YingHua is a camp for those who are interested in Chinese culture, language, or leadership skills. Anyone who joins this camp will learn to face hardship with courage and bravery and make new friends at the same time. I found YingHua to be a very fun camp after the first week, and as I write this, I feel very sad that I only have 1 more day in this wonderful camp, with all my friends. For any kid ages 10-16, I will fully recommend YingHua and I hope that any kid who does decide to join enjoys himself or herself, and remember that being able to do whatever you want is different from being truly happy. Sometimes, to be truly happy you have to have certain restrictions placed upon you, and you have a chance to try new things and learn.

Narendra (13, Indonesia)

This is the overview reflection as I would like to reflect on the past four weeks. Firstly, I had a first impression of this camp that was a rather negative impression. As I first saw the hotel pictures and comments, with my last China experience, I feared going to this program, I dreaded the day and with my paranoia of this I brought along with me a luggage filled with disinfectants, antiseptics, soaps and shampoos etc. However, at the end, only ¾ of my things were used. Why? Due to the fact that it was meant for an experience and I didn't have time. I also felt that I wouldn't make any friends and I wished the plane was broken just so that I could stay with my family. Strangely, when I came, Dr. Liao, Duan Lao Shi, Wang Lao Shi, Rachel and Zong Lao Shi greeted me and my cousin with a warm smile and comforting words. Soon I went to my room and by the next day I made quite some friends like Tatam, Frances, Remington, Evita, Dennis, Justin, and others. I know that my overly-fearful initial impression of the camp made me feel like home quicker than ever. I now even wish that I will never leave or have to say goodbye to my friends when I have grown close to them and the teachers who supported me the entire four weeks. So the only terrible thing about this program is having to say goodbye.

This program has influenced me so much in many different ways. My knowledge of the culture & language of China has improved as well as my leadership skills. In Guang Ai School, I learned that we all actually have an extraordinarily great life in comparison to the Guang Ai students. The experience of listening to the history of the kids and teachers, helping doing heavy duty work & living in a no-star hotel (!) has really affected my belief and ways of life. I was so touched by the reason for which the teacher wanted to stay & teach. I was tearful when I heard the children’s life story. When I went to the hotel near Guang Ai, I almost had a nervous breakdown as I had never been to a hotel that is even half as bad as this hotel but my level of tolerance has increased for the sake of Guang Ai student’s happiness. This was such a great experience even though I had to lower my living standards because it was totally worth it.

My final point is to express my gratitude to all the people I care about from this program and in which I was privileged to meet. First is Dr. Liao & Rachel. They both were great support to all of us and they were determined to help us to achieve our goals. Next is Zong, Wang, and Duan Lao Shi. They paid so much attention to all of us as if we were their own children. Whatever we need or whenever we need help, they are always there like our guardians & they are some of the greatest teachers I’ve ever met. Next is the Guang Ai students and Principal Shi of Guang Ai for making our Guang Ai experience a very memorable and motivational one. I am also grateful to my friends for giving great support to me for most of my troubles and I wished they can stay here with me forever. Finally my mum for sending me to this program as I have learned and experienced so much and I don’t know how I would end up if I never went to this program. This is an excellent and rare program which is definitely worth my summer holiday.

Natalie (10)

In this camp, I have learned many lessons, faced many problems, but most of all, I’ve had a lot of fun with all the campers and my friends. This camp has completely changed my life but in a good way.

During these past few weeks, we’ve gone on many field trips and learned a lot about important places in China’s history. We’ve seen many sights and faced many challenges. During the 4th week, we visit the Guang Ai School, a school for orphans. The students there taught us the most about integrity and how to face hard work, and how to be grateful for what we had. Though they might not be as rich as us, they still are happy and hardworking. I felt we learned the most from them.

I think all the teachers have done their part well, too. Mrs. Liao taught us how to be a good leader and influential. She never believes that we should eat too much unhealthy foods, and treats us fairly. We have exercise every morning to keep us energetic and healthy, too. Also, some teachers teach us Chinese, and we learn about famous Chinese stories. Those teachers are always smiling and willing to help us with our needs. And last but not least, all the other teachers who help Mrs. Liao care for us, and we all learn many lessons from them every day.

Overall, I think this camp is amazing and comes with new surprises, and even if you don’t understand or know any Chinese, Mrs. Liao and the other teachers will always be there to help you. I look forward to coming next year, and I hope other people will experience this camp with me, too!

Pringgo (13, Indonesia)

I think these four weeks of the YingHua summer program were really good. And it really improves leadership, language, physical skills, and also knowledge of Chinese culture. Honestly, at first I didn't want to go to a summer camp and I was begging my mom so I could stay or visit my sister. But she still forced me to go to this program.

It turned out I made some friends on the first day. I thought it's going to take quite some time to make new friends, because only my cousin and I were from Indonesia. This program wouldn't have been accomplished without the people like Liao Lao Ship, Wang Lao Shi, Duan Lao Shi, our counselor Rachel, etc. Most of the time we're really rowdy but still they're patient. So I learned a lot of things such as being more grateful and thankful for what we already have and not wasting stuff. The Guang Ai School students have to finish their food – if not, they won't be able to eat the next day. Also, I learned to get dirty and help make something. In the Guang Ai School, I worked for several hours every day building the new wall for them and I got really dusty, dirty, tired, and also I got a lot of cuts and bruises. But still, in the end, the Guang Ai students are happy. And their smiles really supported and pushed me to do more. I learned to “suck it up happily” (as Liao Lao Shi says). For example, I didn't like bitter melon, but I took some from the dish and tried some. After that, now I actually like bitter melon. Also I learned to never give up. When we went to the Great Wall the second time with the Guang Ai students, the students there didn't complain unlike us (we complain). I tried my best to catch up and in the end I was walking in the front with the students. I also pushed myself to run the mile more often. I don't really like the running. And I did my best. I also learned to be grateful for the place we live in. Coming back from the motel at Guang Ai to Yong An is like going to a palace. I also learned to improve my reading on Xi You Ji even though it's hard – again, I tried my best!

I can guarantee coming to this program is a really great experience. I learned so many things in leadership, culture, language, etc., as I already said. I will never forget this experience. It's one of the best experiences. Especially all the people we met in the camp, teachers, orphans, and other students. Also I learned about influencing other people and being a good leader to a group. It inspires me to be better at life. We all shared laughter together, and it has had a huge impact on my life.

Thank you, Liao Lao Shi, for making this program, thanks Rachel for helping us, Wang Lao Shi who did a lot of things with the reservations, Zong Lao Shi for always watching us and helping us, Duan Lao Shi for teaching us, and the teachers who taught us Chinese, the Guang Ai School, Art School, senior centers, the yo-yo teacher, puzzle master, and also to all of the friends who supported me and each other and shared our happiness.

Rebecca (13)

These past four weeks have been eye-opening, to say the least. I have learned language and leadership skills and taken part in cultural experiences and physical exercise. I have made lasting friendships and learned more about my roots.

First, in the language aspect, I was pushed to write Chinese essays. At home, I have about a week to complete an essay, and usually get a lot of help from parents. Here, even though my articulation probably is not that great, I can still get my feelings across. This taught me how to get by without so much help from others.

Next, in the leadership aspect, I had to step up and be the “point person” of our group in the fourth week at Guang Ai. I worked with everyone towards a common goal – to make the Guang Ai kids happy. We taught them English and Chinese yo-yo, but through this process, they unknowingly taught us as well. The students taught us to withstand hardship, never lose spirit, and always move forward. This was especially evident when we climbed the “wild” Great Wall with them and they were always outracing us and did not seem the least bit fatigued. This experience taught me that even the best leaders have room to learn from others.

Also, in the cultural aspect, I have become more open-minded. For example, I had thought that eating donkey meat was “gross,” but I can accept it now because it is a part of the Chinese culture experience. I cannot promise that I will like it, but I am at least willing to try new foods and activities (like dancing) that have the distinct flavor of China. This taught me to stop immediately judging everything and be more flexible.

Finally, in the physical aspect, I have challenged myself and become stronger. Before this camp, running a mile without stopping was completely impossible. When I saw that everyone here was trying their hardest, I set a goal for myself to run a mile without stopping, no matter the speed. At times, I was so tired I thought that I could just drop dead any second, but I refused to stop and kept putting one foot in front of the other. Miraculously, by the last day of morning exercises, my mile run time was faster than ever before, and I was barely panting afterwards. This shows that your own abilities might surprise yourself.

To the parents and especially the children like me: If you are on the fence about this camp, make the leap to the other side. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will hopefully enrich your outlook on life.

Remy (12)

During these four weeks, we have done and learned many things. When I first came, I thought this camp would be boring all the time. I have realized if you look at things differently they can actually be a lot of fun. Many fun things to do were yo-yos, building a wall, and many other things given me the experience of a life time.

When we first did yo-yoing, I thought it would be very hard. But when I really tried, I realized I could do many tricks, too. If I could not do a trick, I would practice for a long time until I got it right. The first week, before leadership classes, I would have given up very quickly. Now I know if you give up, you’ll never see what will happen if you don’t give up.

The first time we got to the motel next to Guang Ai, I thought I would faint because I saw a huge bug that looked like it could bite. When we got to Guang Ai, I realized I could stay there for 4 days if they could stay at that kind of place for years. Building the wall was good conditioning for me and it inspired me. Since they do hard work every day, I could build a wall.

These four weeks were inspirational and motivating experiences. I can do a lot more than before.

Sarah (14)

These four weeks at camp have been one experience unlike any I have gone through before. I made new friends, went through new experiences, and got sick more time than I thought possible in one month. There have been good experiences and bad experiences, but not any experience that has not held some significance. To say that I’ve undergone a slight change is an understatement. These last four weeks have been like a dream, but a very, very pleasant dream that has finally come to an end.

First of all are the physical activities I was so, so out of shape for when I came here – I hadn’t seriously exercised in four months. Needless to say, I was more than unwilling to put serious effort into any physical activities. I didn’t display a talent for anything, from morning exercises to Kung Fu. At times, I wanted to just give up. However, I didn’t. I tried and tried, continued trying, and passed the mile along with everyone else. From those exhausting physical activities, I learned the importance of perseverance.

Secondly, we had cultural activities. When I first arrived at this camp, I really had very little knowledge about the history of China or anything else about China. Bringing our yellow books on field trips and dragging our notebooks everywhere felt like nothing but a chore at first. Nonetheless, after these four weeks, I realized how valuable these notes are to me: I paid closer attention at the sites, and looking over my notes afterwards refreshed what I had learned. From our cultural activities, I gained knowledge and adopted a better work ethic.

Last but certainly not least, we had our leadership workshops. In the beginning, I found the speeches to be incredibly boring and pointless. However, I soon realized how much the topics discussed in the workshops were related to me – and from then on, I gained interest and started doing my best to be a positive influence to everyone else. Then come our visit to Guang Ai. Nothing I’d ever experienced could have prepared me for what I saw. The living conditions are so poor, the food so scarce, and yet, the students were so happy, so grateful. I knew that many of the students bear scars – both emotional and physical. Even so, they still continued to smile, still continued to hope. I wanted to do something to bring a little bit of joy into those hopeful children’s lives, even if it is only a tiny spark. I put all my effort into helping them, tried my hardest to become a positive influence in their lives. To that end, I believe I succeeded. I taught English, hiked up the Great Wall with them, built their wall, and decorated their classrooms – all things that could bring them some joy and inspiration. Was the work difficult, backbreaking labor? Certainly. Did I regret it? Not one bit. By becoming a positive influence, a tiny spark of hope, I had succeeded.

I have learned so, so much from this camp, and those aren't just empty words. However, the choice of whether to come to this camp is yours. No one can force you to do anything that you do not want to do. However, YingHua has my complete recommendation. If you were to ask me what made it different from other camps, I wouldn't even know where to start. Love, hope, friendship, leadership – those are only a few of the values that I learned from this camp. I still firmly believe that the most amazing factor about this camp is how much it changed me – it allowed me to realize how fortunate I am to be able to bring a positive influence to others.

Seehanah (9)

YingHua really changed my life. At home my grandparents would spoil me. My mom and dad would tell them to stop doing the work I should be doing, but they would still do our work. Here, Zong Laoshi would clean after my friend and me after we eat and do activities. Bonnie would always tell her to stop and let us do it. She would actually stop, and we would have to do more work. YingHua has taught me to work harder.

In leadership in YingHua, I´ve learned a lot. I learned what leadership is, how to influence others, the characters of influencing others, and a lot more. Before YingHua, I would be a bad leader and not know what to do, but now I´ve become a better leader.

In language, I got into C class. When I flipped through the book, there was at least 3 or 4 characters I didn´t know in Chinese in a page ofn 水浒 [The Outlaws of the Marsh]. When I read, I follow the story. If I didn´t know a character, I´d listen to it and write the pinyin down. After a few classes I understood the story, and I didn´t have much trouble on the homework.

On the field trips we had to bring our yellow books and answer questions on the field trip. At first, I would copy others’ answers, but after a while, I became more inquisitive, and asked Frank, our tour guide. I learned more and answered more questions. Towards the end, I paid more attention, and I answered more questions by myself.

For exercising, in the beginning, I expected myself to be really quick, but I actually was really exhausted after running the mile. I also was in 10th place. I was less than I expected. Towards the end, I ran the smaller circles and became stronger.

I recommend others to go to the YingHua program. YingHua is a life changing experience. It makes you learn to be grateful, to respect others, not to waste food, and to learn new things. You also go on a lot of field trips that are amazing.

Serena (8)

This summer camp was awesome, but I didn’t really like Chinese class. We had to do a lot of homework and tests. My favorite part of the summer camp was visiting the Water Cube. I didn’t swim but I still had fun. The summer is fun, but now I ‘m sad because the summer camp is ending. I don’t want to leave the teachers. I really enjoyed playing with my friends. I wish I can still stay at the camp longer. In the beginning of the camp, four people were so quiet, but they are now so jumpy!

Thank you to Rebecca because she was leading us. I think so that she is a good leader. I’m sad that we can’t be together for such a long time.

I had such a great time with all the teachers and my friends. I’m sad that I can’t see the puppies again. When I’m leaving I will say bye to everyone. I hope everyone had a great time at this summer camp.

Tatam (13)

Over the course of the past 4 weeks, I have learned so much about being thankful, risk-taking, and friendships. Every day, I do my everyday chores and activities without even thinking about what others are doing and going through. This past week, I have met some incredible people who really didn’t deserve to have to live their lives like they do right now.

Also, during these 4 weeks, I’ve taken risks and tried foods I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to eat before. Finally, I made so many friends during this trip. At first I was unsure if I was coming to this camp and now I’m glad I did. Even if I didn’t enjoy this camp (but I did), I would have liked it anyway because of the people. I can’t believe this camp is ending. Thank you to Liao Laoshi for this wonderful camp and for making it worthwhile and I will really miss everyone!

 


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