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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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by Liao,Bonnie on 2012-06-28

Hi Parents!

Today was the first day that we spent the entire day on a field trip. After waking up to rain, instead of the morning run, the students stayed in and learn the first two of the eight movements of guang3 bo1 ti3 cao1 (literately, "radio gymnastics" - making movements in unison according to the music). We piled on a bus and into Beijing traffic to head to the underground tunnels built during the Chinese-Japanese war and accompanying museum. On the way, Bonnie explained the complex emotions that Chinese people still have towards the Japanese, from the almost outright hatred of older people who were fighting the war and having suffered directly from the Japanese invasion, to the more mixed emotions of the younger generation who grew up with Japanese investors, while the Japanese government still denies events like the Nanjing massacre.

Following Julia's inquisitive question - why people would celebrate after killing so many people (Japanese soldiers), Bonnie challenged the students to reflect on their own emotions when they heard that Bin Laden was killed. Even though analyzing such complicated emotions and behaviors is not the objective of this program, our hope is that the process of questioning and critically thinking about such complicated matter would inspire students to understand other people while they may be different.

The pictures at the museum were pretty gruesome and horrifying, showing the extent of the cruelty that the Japanese inflicted on the Chinese. The tunnels had been widened and made taller for the benefit of the tourists, but they were still narrow enough so that we had to walk in a single file and the ceilings low enough that we could touch them. You’ll see several interesting reflections about the tunnels—the ability of the students to empathize with the Chinese fighting in the 1940s is truly commendable.

Our lunch was countryside style (at a nong2 jia1 yuan4), and the owner made the food personally. All of the vegetables were grown by the owner’s immediate or extended family, except for the pork and beef, since they don’t raise pigs and cows. Even though the students didn’t like all of the dishes, they appreciated the variety in food—13 or 14 dishes per table, including pumpkin, pork and fen3 tiao2, fresh eggs from free-range chicken, steamed cornmeal vegetarian bun, home-made tofu, and more. The girls exclaimed when they found out that the pan-fried eggs tasted SO much better!

In the afternoon, we went to a porcelain/china workshop which specializes in educating children about the craft. Bonnie told the story that the reason that china (the pottery) and China (the country) have their name is because the pottery was so famous in the European world and was made in a small village that used to be called Chang1 Nan2 (for it was south of Chang1 He2, the Chang1 River), which sounds like China. An emperor in the Song Dynasty then liked china from this town so much that he renamed the village after himself, Jing3 De2, - Jing3 De2 Zhen4. After learning the history, the students were able to try their hand at making the porcelain with the special clay "Gao1 Ling3 Tu3" transported to Beijing from Jing3 De2 Zhen4. All of them once again realizing things are harder than they look. Dinner was at a Korean restaurant.

Student Reflections:
Sarah: The pottery class seemed easy but was actually very hard. She grew frustrated trying to shape the clay herself, but then stopped to appreciate the talent, hard work, and months of training the teacher put into the work. She wishes the he showed us in steps instead of all together, because by the time she tried herself, she had already forgotten how to.

Eileen: Today, Rachel talked to her on the bus about New Talent Academy, which Rachel went to in 2005-2006 and Eileen will attend next semester. She was glad Rachel shared the information with her, and somebody else had the experience so she’s not as apprehensive anymore. The underground tunnels were creepy. [YingHua offers the "YingHua in Beijing" Honors Program since spring 2005 providing the opportunity for American students to study in Beijing for five months at a time. Both Eileen and Jamie will attend it in September.]

Evita: Found pottery very difficult because the clay kept slipping off the turntable. When she was at the underground tunnels, she kept thinking about how the Chinese could run with guns in tunnels even smaller, and really appreciated that they tried their best to think of ways to fight instead of risking being abused and enslaved.

Pringgo: The tunnels were scary, and the car rides were long. He laughed a lot on the way to the restaurant, and discovered that he liked vegetables more than before.

Dennis: Had lunch at the family owned restaurant, and liked the pumpkin but not the rest of the dishes so much, though he was forcing himself to be "risk-taking" and tired them all. He washed his hands in a blue bucket, and realized that these people are not as wealthy or successful as many people he knows in the States. However he was impressed by the genuine happiness of the owner when we left (as opposed to the trite “have a nice day” said by the manager at Shop Rite) and wondered why the seemingly more successful Americans are actually more depressed.

Narendra: He thought today was tiring because of the full day field trip. Wondered how the Chinese fought in the tunnels without air-conditioning in the hot summers. He liked lunch, but was shocked that the people lived off only their crops, because of the pressure on them that they could starve if the crops fail.

Today Alice, Sarah, Eileen, Evita, Seehana, Natalie, Serena, Pringgo, and Dennis offered to share their reflection before the rest of the kids were being called upon.

(By the way, Ramy should be listed under Class C in yesterday's announcement.)

Rachel and Bonnie


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