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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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by Liao,Bonnie on 2011-06-29

Dear Parents,

OK, we\'ve had our first \"calmer\" day today. We got up at 6:30 a.m. Gathered at 6:55 a.m. and jogged to the Chaoyang Park about .5 miles away.
Three teachers, Robert, and I went with them. (FYI, each entrance ticket is 2.5 yuan and is covered by the program, of course.)

It\'s the first-time the students attempted to run around the large lake. Tristan, Matt, Ryan, and Ben were among the fastest finishers. Jessica, an avid cross-country runner came in among the first pack.

We practiced how to line-up quickly and spread out without losing the \"line.\" It\'s an essential \"skill\" all local Chinese students are trained to do, which explains why the 2008 Olympics Opening ceremony could look so much in order during the performance. I told the kids this is part of the cultural learning and practice. They learned how to gather in good form in less than 10 seconds (pretty good though still have room for improvement).
The breakfast starts at 8 a.m. and the classes start at 9 a.m. There are three levels - A (beginners), B  (low-intermediate level), and C (intensive reading and writing). This year, Wang Laoshi was helping us to keep the tuition unchanged from last year despite the significant increase of the hotel and other cost in Beijing. I was not going to raise the tuition fees because the oil price has already driven the airfare higher than last year. One way to cut some expense was to use three instead of four classes for the 22 students. We have already started talking to teachers how to provide differentiated teaching. More later on that. A few students are discussing with me about their class placement. Certain adjustment will be made. The students are really ready to learn!!

Lunch was at 12 p.m. The chef by now knows very well that our students love \"bing3\" (a typical Chinese layered \"pancake\") and noodles. So they\'ve got a lot of them at lunch and dinner, respectively.

At 1:30 p.m., we held the first cultural lesson - Chinese Calligraphy. Our lesson is unique in its design because the teacher demonstrated the five styles of Chinese calligraphy (Standard/Regular script - kai3 shu; Semi-cursive/Running script - xing2 shu, Cursive/Grass script - cao3 shu, Seal script - zhuan4 shu; Official/Clerical scrip - li4 shu). The students learned how to recognize and distinguish different styles during my final \"quiz!\" We are getting ready for the visit to the Beijing Capital Museum to appreciate the \"real stuff.\" The students practiced how to hold the brush and got a first-hand experience in how to create each style. About 1/3 of the students have been exposed to Chinese calligraphy before, but few have learned this much knowledge about the scrips!

At about 3:15 p.m. we showed a brief video demo of the morning exercise for tomorrow. Then we watched one of the classic black-and-white movie by CCP about the battles between the Japanese and the Chinese during WW II - The Tunnel War. This is in preparation for tomorrow\'s field trip.

At about 5 p.m.Then students went back to their rooms to relax and to do their homework before dinner at 6 p.m.

At 8 p.m., the Reflection was more indepth. Lin-Lin expressed her gratitude to Zong Laohsi, one of the teachers taking care of the students\' day-to-day \"eating, sleeping, and safety\" (as she puts it). Zong Laoshi helped the students to set up clothes lines in the kitchen area in each suite for the students to line-dry their clothes. Zong Laoshi used a washing machine (no dryer) to wash the clothes for each student. Each load is 2 yuan and the students pay her directly.

We had a relaxed hour or so before bed time. The boys in Room 1302 (Brandon, Matt, Chauncey, and Dave) have moved to 1403.

So much for now.

From Robert Zhang -

Today at 7am, it was the first day all the students participated in the morning exercise. It consisted of running around a beautiful lake in a park near the hotel. I believe that everyone felt motivated to do their best during the run, since a majority of the people ran the entirety of the course. Unfortunately, Amy threw up a little bit without warning a while after everyone was done running. She said it was probably because she has not exerted herself to such an extent in a long time. I believe this incident has not discouraged from retiring from morning exercise altogether, and she is keeping a positive perspective. However, I assume she will take it easier tomorrow. Many people enjoyed the run, and Ryan said during reflection that it would take some effort to get used to the new weather here.

The students went to class for the first time today. Many students said they enjoyed class during their reflections. The 3 different classes, A B and C are split into different rooms and are grouped in order of Chinese ability. Today, I spent most of my time in Class C, the most difficult class. I realized it was actually a little too hard for me, but for now I will try to push myself to at least complete the homework. I visited class B as well, where some other students were considering going down a class due to the difficulty. My hope for myself as well as the students, is that whatever happens with their class-changes, students will go to where they feel challenged but not overwhelmed, so they can grow and learn at a good pace. During reflection, Ben noted that he would try his best to stay in class B, although it was a little challenging.

The students then went to calligraphy class where we learned about the different types of scripts Chinese characters have been written in historically. There was a lot of information and also a lot of practicing. Many students, picked it up quite nicely and their works were used as examples by the teacher.

Immediately following that, we watched a black and white Chinese film made before the cultural revolution. The film dealt with the Japanese invasion during world war 2 and how a small village town fought back hundreds of Japanese in KMT troops using strategies developed from the work of Mao Tze Dong. During reflection, many of the boys talked about how they enjoyed learning about the innovative underground battle strategies of the Chinese villagers.

Today\'s reflection, Bonnie prompted the students to write about the acts of kindness they have seen throughout the day. Many students mentioned the many small, but immensely helpful actions, of Zhong Laoshi, who is our caretaker teacher. They appreciated how she took care of the laundry, hung people\'s clothes up on her own initiative, and changed the mosquito repellent in the rooms everyday. Bonnie also mentioned that the short e-mails of thanks she gets back from parents in response to these journal entries boosted her spirits.

Although today was a slower and less hectic day, many students found things to be immensely grateful for during their reflection today, even if the day was relatively \"boring\". We hope that the students will continue with this habit in order to get them through the rough days ahead in this program  that will not exactly be the most fun or exciting, but will have it\'s own unique rewards when one approaches the day with a good attitude.



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