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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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by Liao,Bonnie on 2012-06-26

Dear Parents,

This journal was written by Rachel and modified by Bonnie.

We had a busy day today. After breakfast, the students took placement tests to place them into one of three Chinese classes. We will give you the specific placement tomorrow. Tomorrow they will have their first official Chinese class. They laid down their own ground rules, starting first and foremost with be respectful to others, and Bonnie expanded on some of her expectations in terms of curfew (9 pm for those in rooms with students 12 and younger and 9:30 p.m. lights out; 9:30 pm for the rest and 10 p.m. lights out). No soda or sugary drink and snacks.

We then had our first leadership meeting, on which I’d like to share a few thoughts. It was particularly interesting to me (Rachel), because YiB didn’t have the leadership component when I came in 2005, and though I was a student leader in several clubs in high school as well as in college, I had never heard of this theory of leadership. Bonnie first asked the students to share their definition of "leadership" and name a few people that have demonstrated the "leadership."

The students shared their own definition and Bonnie put down some key words mentioned by the students. Gradually the definition emerged as “the ability to influence others towards achieving the group’s goal through personal integrity and character.” 

Students also recognized leadership is not about a title or a position but about the action to influence. The most essential foundation for effective leadership is personal integrity and character, which takes years to develop.
rnSkills such as for presentation/public-speaking, negotiation, or debate rnmay increase the effectiveness of leadership. However, they may be rnlearned when timing is right and when one is ready.
rnTraits and personalities are hard to change and are nonessential for leadership development. For instance, "shy" people can influence as well. Instead of focusing on changing one's personalities, one should discover his/her style of leadership in order to be effective.

To help discussing character development, Narendra helped Bonnie to lay out the "Learner's Profile" of International Baccalaureate". More on this in the future.

After lunch, we headed to the Chinese Ethnicity Park to celebrate the water festival (by drenching each other with water) and learn some dancing characteristic of Chinese minority groups. For instance, we got in a circle, held hands, and made various movements with our feet. Then, we went to the biggest tea house in Beijing to try and (for some students) buy tea. Dinner was a special kind of Chinese noodle (Shanxi dao1 xiao1 mian4) that we got to try to cut (or "peel" using a peeler) —everyone who tried realized that it was a lot harder than it looked!

Student Kudos:
Sarah led today at lunch when she went out of her comfort zone to be the first girl to try a different-looking eggplant dish. I was impressed again by the lack of complaints about Chinese food, which seemed like a pretty big issue here in 2005. Maybe this is in partial due to the emphasis on "risk-taking" (Learner's Profile).

Thanks to Eileen and Dennis for being the first students to try the Dai minority bamboo dance. Thanks to Karma and Alex for being the first students when we went to the second dancing area. Karen also danced particularly gracefully. Thanks to their influence by example, everyone participated!
Thanks to Narendra for suggesting to help the teachers when Bonnie explained that they had to physically pour water into the washing machine to get it to work properly.
Thanks again to Eileen for having the courage to volunteer to share first after reflections.

In terms of reflections, it’s getting late, so in general, I’ll probably only share two or three that Bonnie and I find particularly compelling or striking as today's the second sharing and most students talked about how fun it was at the Ethnicity part because of the "water-splashing festival."

Justin: Went to the toilet at dinner, and it was the first time that he’d seen a squatting toilet. Though he quickly left the bathroom without using it, he was grateful for the sitting toilet that he had at home.

Sarah: Her favorite part of the day was the water festival. She was surprised that the [second part] dancing was "mandatory," and was afraid that it would be somewhat embarrassing and awkward. But after she tried it, it turned out actually to be  "not bad" and the experience was "pretty ok."

Rachel and Bonnie


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