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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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by Liao,Bonnie on 2012-07-18

Dear Parents,

After our breakfast of bao1zi, you2bing3, soymilk, and hard boiled eggs, we once again set off for Guang Ai school on foot. When we got there in about 20 minutes, the Guang Ai students were in the middle of an event with a special youth dancing group from the Children's Palace at the Xi Cheng District in central Beijing. We were able to watch both the kids from the youth dancing group and also a couple of Tibetan minority dances that the Guang Ai students performed (as some of the Guang Ai students are Tibetans).
Observing the show was extremely interesting for me—the Guang Ai students showed that they could give a great performance without the fancy costumes worn by the dancing group, and those who were not the best dancers seemed the most engaged in the dance and happy to be moving around. It seems that you don’t have to necessarily be good at something to enjoy it and share that enjoyment with others. We then had an opportunity to sing "Friends" and "Thankful Heart" as well as show off our marshal arts to both groups of students.

Then, the leadership group split the students up into a group of eight to help build the “Wall of Love,” which was paid for by the YingHua Language School, a group to start with the decorations for three classrooms, and later other students to teach and communicate with Guang Ai students. The eight students helped to demolish an already-existing wall so that the bricks could be used for the new wall. Dennis helped think of an efficient assembly line method for the demolishing, and he and the others managed to effectively communicate with the Guang Ai students for successful teamwork to take place. Many of these students reflected on the enjoyment they got from building something through their own hard work and sweat (having a tangible outcome) that would last for a long time, as well as the value of teamwork and the importance of hard work.

Meanwhile, some other students worked inside the cafeteria making art work including a peaceful sunset scene over a river, a big tree with random hangings labeled in Chinese and English, and a city skyline with landmarks from around the world (Great Wall, Water Cube, Eifel Tower, Statue of Liberty, etc). Others, including Tatum, Narendra, Alice, Natalie, Karen, and Elieen volunteered to teach English to the Guang Ai students in the 5th and 6th grades. Though some were frustrated with their attempts, they were all glad to help. Natalie also observed a boy in a wheelchair being pushed by another boy, who turned out to be blind since he was being given directions by the boy he was pushing. She reflected that everybody should help others with what they don’t have.

Sarah, Jamie, and Seehanah agreed to go communicate with a couple of seventh and eighth grade girls. At first their conversation was stilted and awkward, but they quickly got to deeper subjects, like the differences between China and the US. When asked what grade she was in, Sarah replied 10th, and was asked “you still have school in 10th grade,” leading her to reflect that her concerns seem shallow when put up against those who had to support their family when they were her age. Rebecca and Alex also engaged in communication—Alex told a story in English and Rebecca translated it into Chinese for a young man in a wheelchair who was learning English through computer code and wanted to get a feel for the language. Thanks so much to all of our students for their motivation today!

From Bonnie -

I was deeply moved by our students' enthusiasm for working in the sun to buld the "Wall of Love." In order to reuse the bricks from the old wall, each brick needed to be "cleaned". One needs to use a hammer or a mason's "knife" to chip away the old material that used to hold bricks together (for lack of the right term for the "stuff"). It's tough work as the "stuff" was still stuck to the bricks. Got the picture? I needed to have three students for this and three to sift the sand using shovels. Nine hands were up. These nine kids were literately fighting to be the chosen six. At one point, I almost wanted to ask them to have an arm wrestle in order to decide who'd get to go and Evita shouted "UNFAIR!" Sure, if Evita had the risk of not being the chosen one for she might lose to the boys in the arm wrestl, Emily would have no chance. She is one of the triplets and has just turned 13 five days ago. She is quiet and could be taken as a 12 or 11 years old kid, but she has a will of steel. She said nothing the whole time but only raised her hand high and tall ... I wanted to give Narendra a chance as he wanted to have this experience so badly since he missed the morning labor session. Then, of course, the four strong fellows who would fight me to no end if I did not let them go ...

So Leo, Justin, and Pringgo got the tough job of shoveling sand on a sift to separate the different grains of sand - something I used to watch a lot when I was growing up in China but was completely foreign for these kids to learn.

Evita, Emily, Dennis, and Narendra got the "chipping" brick job. I had to keep Remy and Kevin (one of the triplets) in-door doing something hard for them to enjoy - drawing pictures. As soon as Narendra decided that he'd got enough the experience and was ready to teach instead, both Remy and Kevin charged outside to do the real MAN's job! Remy begged to work as there's not another hammer for him to use. So the supervisor asked him to do something special - carrying cleaned up bricks to the masons to build the wall. Remy was asked only to carry three bricks each time, but he quickly increased the number to six. He and Kevin have been the "strong men in development." They don't like to be grouped with Ethan (the nine-year-old) and wanted to do the things the other five "bigger guys" do. When they were late for our assembly, these two could barely finish the 10 push-ups without struggling. On the first day, Remy would rather do the "girl's push-ups" then to exert the effort to do the "boy's push-ups!"

Today, these two fellows were my heroes! They worked SO hard as if to proving to the world they had become taller and stronger overnight! Of course, all eight kids were our heroes. They worked from 2:30 to 5 p.m. with sweat staining their dark-colored t-shirt visibly.... In their reflection, they all claimed that they had so much fun working this hard because they felt they were doing something meaningful for the Guang Ai kids!

Rachel & Bonnie


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