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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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by on 2012-06-27

Dear Parents,

After getting up, we gathered at 6:55 to go do our morning exercises and run. Bonnie led the kids for the warm-up jog for about half a mile from the hotel to the ChaoYang park. Once we got there, we found that Zong Laoshi was already there waiting with everyone's entrance ticket! We stretched and and then ran another mile surrounding the largest lake in the park. Rachel and Bonnie also ran with the kids to make sure those who were running slowly would not get lost.

Most of the students tried their best. In particular, Justin (14), Serena (8), and Seehanah (9 years old) showed great sportsmanship.

Tomorrow we will teach the kids how to do Guang Bo Ti Cao (“radio gymnastics”) and watched a video in the afternoon. 

The students then had their first Chinese class sections. Here are the class rosters:

Class A
Class B (one of them is actually in Class C)
Class C (missing one name ...)

We had bitter melon at lunch, which very few of the students liked (I can’t say I like the vegetable either!). However, I was very appreciative when many girls tried or ate one piece when encouraged to. At one table, Alice, Natalie, Seehanah, and Serena counted to three and all ate it at the same time; at the other, Karma went first, and others followed, including Julia, Emily, Eileen, and Jamie. At the boy’s table, a game emerged when they would spin the glass on the table, and whichever person the bitter melon landed in front of, had to eat some of it. They managed to finish a platter of bitter melon this way!

 In the afternoon, Yang LaoShi came in to teach us about Chinese calligraphy. They learned about the five different fonts (shu1) and practiced how to make the strokes using the example character he2 (i.e. he2 ping2). Rebecca listened very carefully to Yang LaoShi, and Gao LaoShi commented that Sarah and Evita wrote calligraphy as well as some Chinese students do when trying for the first time. Since tomorrow we’ll be going to see the underground tunnels built during the Chinese-Japanese war, we watched a Chinese movie from the 1950s about it, which spawned some interesting reflections this evening.

Student Reflections:
Julia: She was surprised that in the movie, the music during the fighting was so cheerful. Julia wanted to know why people in the movie were celebrating after they killed [Japanese] soldiers. When all the Japanese soldiers died, a boy put on a dead guy’s helmet, which kind of creeped her out.

Sarah: She was surprised that her Chinese class was actually more interesting than those she used to attend in the US. Afterwards, she tried to study for a quiz, but couldn’t concentrate because people kept ringing her doorbell and calling the phone, which was irritating. (Bonnie addressed this issue with all the kids afterwards.)

Karma: the highlight of her day was just hanging out with her roommates. She didn’t like the squatting toilets in the restaurant. She tried the bitter melon and didn’t like it, but didn’t regret eating a piece. Karma was a little disappointing that we ate at the same place for lunch and dinner, but was glad there was rice at dinner.

Tatum: She had to think a lot today. During the first class, she stopped to think every 30 seconds about each word she was reading. Tatum would like more free time because she was tired, especially after exercising.

Frances: Running was not fun because she hadn’t exercised for 2 or 3 months. Her ankle was a little sore but hopefully will get better. She particularly enjoyed the calligraphy history and how to hold the brush and write the strokes. Commented on the cultural differences between Chinese and American film.

Kevin: He couldn’t understand some of the movie, but what he did understand made him interested in the Chinese history of that period.

Karen: Calligraphy was hard. The movie was interesting, but she thought it seemed exaggerated, especially since none of the “good guys” (Chinese) died during the battles.

Rebecca: She was surprised that there were five ways to write Chinese calligraphy. She realized that by actually trying things, you gain more knowledge than by just watching others.

Serena and Seehanah: During the morning run, their stomachs started hurting, but they continued to run anyway and finished the mile.

Over the years, Bonnie has found that kids at this age do need some feedback and guidance on how to reflect so that their reflection would go beyond a running record of what happened that day. The tendency for most kids in the beginning is simply to record the experience and activities that were "fun" at a superficial level. Over time, more and more kids would "get it" and go deeper with their reflection. Rachel realized that typing up everyone's reflection every day would not be practical even though we understand how much parents would like to read their child's reflection daily. Hopefully your child would feel comfortable to share his/her writing upon returning home.

Eileen pointed out that sometimes people may just like to keep some deeper thoughts to themselves. Bonnie acknowledged that it would be great if kids actually do private reflection for themselves - just like people would write personal diaries, especially in the "old days." Today more and more kids choose to share their experiences online via Facebook, Tweeter, and Blogs, etc., without realizing that they are influencing others through such sharing. We hope our reflection practice would encourage more thinking behind sharing and enable the kids to recognize sharing is also a way influencing others besides allowing others to understand you more.

During the group reflection, we have been asking students to volunteer rnsharing their reflection with the group. Then only when no more rnvolunteers, do we go around the large circle one after another skipping rnthose who had already shared earlier. Today the following students rnshared first (as opposed to the only two yesterday): Dennis, Rachel, rnEileen, Julia, Alice, Sarah, Karma, Tatam, and Frances. Bonnie also rntalked about the purpose of the reflection - to find meanings in what wern have done and lived. Confucius advised thousands of years ago that a rn"gentleman" should reflect three times daily.
That’s all for today!

Rachel and Bonnie


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