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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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by Liao,Bonnie on 2011-07-16

Dear Parents, (This was for yesterday. We had a power outage and could not send you the following announcement yesterday).

Today was our second to last day at Guang Ai School. Many of our students are starting to get attached to their new friends, and many do not want to leave them. Today was the last day of final exams for the Guang Ai students, and in the morning we cleaned up teacher and student dormitories, pulled weeds from the sports field, organized and decorated the broadcasting room, which is doubled as the office for Zhang Laoshi, who is the new Academic Dean for Guang Ai. There was a lot of dusting and mopping and organizing. In the afternoon, the YiB and Guang Ai students signed each others\' tote bags that Wang Laoshi bought for every YiB and some Guang Ai students (total 50). One side says YiB, or any creative variation, by YiB kids and the other says Guang Ai by Guang Ai kids. Then we got out on the field and most students from both schools played soccer.

Because my batteries ran out for my laptop in the middle of the group reflection, today I will write everyone\'s reflections verbatim because they gave me their notebooks later.

Jessica did not give her notebook to me, but she shared her reflection with the group earlier saying that Liao Laoshi lectured everyone this morning about the \"imorality\" about wasting food because four people wasted their eggs. She said that her grandparents had always taught her 谁知盘中餐,粒粒皆辛苦. She enjoyed this afternoon\'s soccer match with the Guang Ai student even though she found out her yesterday\'s buddy was a \"bad winner\" as he bragged about their win to her.

Sonia (14.41 years old) - It was a shame to hear that people would waste eggs that others don\'t get a chance to usually eat. This morning I got annoyed at many people and their lack of help. I had to do three times the work, but I guess it was worth it since it felt like I made up for not completing the climb (at the Great Wall). In a way today I felt as if some people looked at the larger side of the picture and didn\'t really understand what points the camp was trying to teach us. Even at home my mom teaches me that I have to work for things I want in life. Receiving things and not appreciating it doesn\'t make the world go round it\'s what you give and receive. As a result of things, it felt like a leader each day I\'m at the Guang Ai school. Sadly we will be leaving them tomorrow. So let\'s make the best of it. When I got to the school the child who was unable to speak saw me and gave me a huge welcome and it really touched my heart and just made me wonder how someone was unable to accept this child. Later on in life I hope to find more programs like this to help the less fortune. I maybe just using words, but I\'m determined to make a difference.

Tristan (13.60 years old) – Over the past four days I have been thinking how lucky I am to get what I get. The kids at Guang Ai seem happy and content even though they almost have nothing. I complain about not having a nice phone or not playing enough video games. Over the past week we took the orphans to places they\'ve never been before and have had a big impact on their lives. This makes me appreciate how I have way more than they do. Although I am relieved that we will be going back to the Yong An Hotel, I will never forget the past week and the impact it had on all of us. When I get back to America. I will appreciate my parents more and everything they do for me. The camp is almost over. I hope I will enjoy the next 2 days here in Beijing.

Shannon (14.96 years old) – Every day when we arrive at Guang Ai, I always see my 7 year old buddy from the first day running towards me, eager to receive a hug. However it pains me whenever I realize that I am the only person that she can run to like that since she has no parents with her. She always clings to me and smiles no matter what. Another little boy (who used to be Ryan\'s partner) acts the same as well. At first he is shy when I greet him every day, but then he and the other little girl pull me towards them and jump around, just waiting to show me new activities. Holding hands with such young kids who have experienced so much brings about emotions in me that are a mixture of pity and love and empathy. Seeing the kids when I scold them for getting themselves dirty makes me joyful, yet sorry. I wish I could adopt these kids and see their happy faces all the time.
    Today when everyone else was playing soccer I was led to a patch of grass by the two kids and the younger sister of my buddy from yesterday. There, we caught grasshoppers and the kids had so much fun. They exchanged stories of the huge insects they had caught and I felt sorry that I had none of those stories to share. As a kid, I was always not in the mood to go outside, but looking at these kids today I realized that they had no choice but to play outside. The stories that they tell me seem almost as if they lived in a heartrending movie, not real life, their experiences bring me back to the reality that there are so many kids who are less fortunate than us.
    During the bag singing, my buddy from yesterday wrote “Be happy everyday” in Chinese next to his signature. I was, again, touched by his thoughtfulness because even though his life may have much less happiness than mine, he was still able to think about me. After I met his younger sister, who was very strong and fit for her age, I felt not only lazy but also spoiled, because I am definitely not as strong as her, even now. The stories of my buddy;s life are shocking, but seeing him tell me about his life so calmly made me feel like I should be stronger about my negative experiences.

Ben (15.27 years old) – Today Robert and I volunteered to clean out a teacher\'s dormitory. I was surprised at how small and dirty it was, and one of the other teachers said it was so messy because he was unmarried. Robert and I had an interesting talk and he said that his college dorm was smaller than the room we were cleaning. I think it\'s good that we are being exposed to uncomfortable living conditions now, because we all need to realize that we won\'t always be living in nice conditions.

Melissa (14.51 years old) – I think today was the best day here. In the morning we cleaned the dorms and I was impressed at how decent they looked from my first impression. But then I saw the layers of dust and the bathrooms and again my expectation lowered. Today in the afternoon I saw all my previous buddies and I really felt close because I talked to them like I really knew them. Tonight is the last night here and I must say the last 4 days here have been really eventful and worthwhile. I\'ve always known not to waste food or complain and to remember the poor, but it wasn\'t until these few days when I somewhat experienced it for myself. The experience was so eye-opening, the stories were so touching, I really feel as though my whole mindset on life has been altered. Not only have I learned about helping the less-fortunate, but I\'ve actually learned more about myself. I realized that I can really become a leader if I tried and I have the capability to do something and make a change.

MingMing (15.59 years old) – Throughout this program. I\'ve noticed sports have brought us together with many people. Being invited to play basketball against the Indonesians sparked new friendships between our camp and theirs. Today the students love for soccer helped unite our students with the Guang Ai students. Although the game was pretty rough, I think everyone was having fun. I realized that even though we live very different lifestyles, we are all united and tied together by things such as sports, laughter, and smiles.

Chauncey (12.21 years old) – Today I missed the tote bag signings because I was teaching Jason and the art teacher English. I heard Jason’s story and I realize how frustrating it must be to have learned a language and forgotten most of it. I hope I can do my best to help him reclaim his memories of English. I also think we should slow down on our reflections for Robert because he has to type a summary of our day along with his reflection and it takes a lot of skill to keep up with us as we speak our reflections, taking them in and summarizing them as we speak.

Tia (12.74 years old) – today me, Lin-Lin and Lisa cleaned one of the bigger dorm rooms. We swept under all the beds, mopped the floor over and over again and wiped down the cabinets and boxes. It was a lot of work, and I realized that just simply sweeping under some beds is more tiring than it looks. I hope that the girls who sleep in the room think that we did a good job cleaning and are happy about it. And even though the room didn\'t look any cleaner, I still felt proud when were done.

Annie (11.14 years old) – today we cleaned the dorms of the Guang Ai students\'. It made me think of how spoiled I was because I don\'t share with 7 others, and my room is twice the size. I was also catching grasshoppers with orphans. The scratch on my shoulder is still sore, but I\'d like to thank Liao Laoshi for giving me medicine, and Robert for helping me get food. We also singed bags today, and I\'d like to thank everyone for writing kind messages.

LinLin (13.08 years old) – I really want to thank the leadership group for what they have been doing for us these past few days. They planned every single day\'s activities and the timing of it. When the schedule gets changed they immediately form their groups and discuss what to do next. They are the reasons our days at Guang Ai school have been passing smoothly. Not only do they plan our day but they each take charge of a group and lead them in their activities (weeding, cleaning rooms, decorating, etc.) They tell people where to go and what to do and I really admire them all for stepping up and taking responsibility. Thank you guys!

Amy (13.54 years old) – Today I found out how precious food is to the people of this local area. All our (untouched) leftovers are eaten by the hotel\'s children! The kids at GuangAi school lose a meal if they waste any food. I take the food placed before me for granted. From now on, I will try not to waste any food and eat everything I take. I\'m sad to hear that Wang Lao Shi had to tear off the bitten part of an egg and ate the rest for breakfast. And the other teachers had no eggs. I\'m proud of myself because I didn\'t waste much food. I also found out that the Guang Ai kids have mantou and porridge for breakfast and rarely eggs because they\'re so expensive.

Dave (14.47 years old) – Today we cleaned up the students’ rooms. They were pretty neat already but it was just dusty. Also when a student broke his Chinese yo yo string, I helped him fix it and he thanked me by saying xie xie da ge ge (thank you big brother), which shows how much they appreciate everything they get. After we were told that if the orphans were to leave food at a meal, they would miss the next meal. After hearing that it made me understand that everything that we receive is taken for granted and that we should appreciate everything that we have.\\

Detorea (11.50 years old) - Today we went to the Guang Ai school. WE cleaned the boys and girls rooms. Me and Annie cleaned one room. When we were done we left for lunch, it was pretty good! After that, me, Sophia, Joanne, and Annie played charades in our room. I think that Sophia made up weird and funny ones. One of them was very disgusting but likely no one picked it. While we were playing, Zong Lao Shi called us for some watermelons. They were sooo good! After that we went back to the GuangAi School. Some people played soccer. I didn\'t. Instead I caught grasshoppers with Annie, Shannon, and some of the orphans. I had a fun time. Shannon caught a reallly big one. Then Joanne came over. I was convincing her to hold one but instead she ran away and said eww. Then later on, she finally held it and then it dropped out of her hands. I got frustrated with her. So that is how today went and I cant wait to go back to the Yong An hotel tomorrow. And one more thing I cant wait until Joanne and Robert\'s birthday tomorrow.

Sophia (12.26 years old) - Today was quite an amazing day! I put a lot of hard work into today! Jessica, Melissa, and I swept and mopped one of the girls\' dorms. Under the beds were filthy. There were large amounts of dust, dirt, candy wrappers, and more. But we all managed to clean and make whoever slept in there more comfortable. Soccer was really fun and tiring! I was aggressive and felt like I did a good job! Everyone did great but unfortunately we lost. At least we worked together to get through many hard situations. I am sad and happy at the same time that camp is coming to an end! I will miss everyone dearly and I am looking forward to seeing my family! I hope these next few days will be the best at YingHua, and we should soak up as much as we can about the culture and the things around us.

Darren (11.43 years old) – Yesterday after reflection, I walked into my room and a swarm of flying insects were flying right next to the lamp and in the corner of my room. I was the only one to see it at first and my roommate was in someone else\'s room. A couple of minutes later I figured that my room has become a tourist attraction. I would like to thank the camp mates who helped by bringing mosquito repellant and spraying it around my room. I also would like to thank Ben for telling me the window was closed incorrectly and fixing it. Unfortunately my roommate didn\'t find out what was going on until 45 minutes later.

Lisa (13.44 years old) – I can\'t believe that tomorrow will be the last day of visiting the Guang Ai school. This has definitely been a great experience for me. I have practiced my leadership skills from helping a little girl with English to helping out throughout the school. The students have really inspired me to become a better person. I realize how lucky I am to have parents which is probably what most of those kids want and what I take for granted. These students really open your eyes to a new world. I hope each of these bright, intelligent kids have a great future.

Matt (13.92 years old) – Dug weeds and don\'t think some of us including myself worked as hard as the last time we did this. At the bag signing, I was talking to a student and I found out that we had some things in common. Then I took a picture with him and several other students.

Ryan (15.15 years old) – We visited Guang Ai again. We assisted in cleaning up this morning, and made bags and played soccer in the afternoon. I think my favorite part of vising Guang Ai is visiting my buddy from the first day. He always finds me and taps me on the shoulder or sticks his tongue out at me and smiles. He showed me some bugs he caught today. The boy is so friendly and happy. Sadly I don\'t even know his name, because when I had asked at first he had said it quickly and shyly. It gives me reason to want to learn Chinese so I can learn about him and joke with him, like Shannon can and does. I think she may be trying to steal him away. It also inspires me to want to help kids like these because they\'re all so great, and deserve chances like I hope this one will get now.

James (14.16 years old) – Today I was really touched when my partner from the first day came running to me, hugged me, and called me da ge ge (big brother). He is a really nice kid and about 6 years old. I don\'t know much about his background but I couldn\'t believe he might have been left to live on the streets. I still remember on the first day where he was insisted on giving me the chair to sit in, and when he made a mistake on one of the alphabets he wouldn\'t waste paper by writing again, but erased it.; I remember on the second day where I gave him a new book and he bowed. To me this kid is very loving and cares for other people, I am proud to be his da ge ge. I will never forget him.

Brandon (9.64 years old) – Today I thought about what Liao lao shi said about wasting food. What really hurts me is that the Guang Ai students only get man tou and porridge for breakfast. Tomorrow we are going back to Yong An hotel. One of the things I think I like about this place is the food we get from the restaurant close by. I liked it because the chef is really good and he tries to do his best to make sure we\'re well fed. We really should thank this chef for all the hard work he has done.

Joanne (10.96 years old) – Today when we were signing bags and I managed to get everyone\'s except for Chauncey\'s. Chauncey also called me a “name-stealer” just because we have the same last name after he signed. Tomorrow also happens to be Robert and I\'s birthday and Harry Potter part 2 is going to be in theaters tomorrow too.

Robert (19.96 years old) - reflected the fact that he\'s going to be 20 years old and will have to decide what to do with his life very soon. He\'s tried to put himself in the shoes of those teachers, who had given up all of their comfort and familiar environment to teach and live at Guang Ai for 700 yuan a month. He\'s wondering if he would be able to do it and the answer was \"probably not.\" This makes him have so much more respect for the 16 Guang Ai teachers, who are almost all college graduates.

Robert & Bonnie

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