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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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by Liao,Bonnie on 2010-10-15

Greetings from Beijing,

No barbeques for us this July 4th, though we did feel the heat of summer in all it’s glory. Today was a day on campus, with classes beginning at 8:45. Many of the students seemed eager to be returning to the classroom again after a day of excursions, and some began the day reviewing vocabulary or practicing for oral presentations over breakfast.

Lunch was again family style in the hotel restaurant, where the management is really getting a sense of which dishes our students like to eat. Almost every meal includes a relatively light soup, which some students consume in multiple servings. Bing is also popular: your children all pounce with their chopsticks when these plates of bread arrive. Almost anything involving meat and potatoes is devoured with relish, but students are also appreciating a variety of greens and vegetables such as cauliflower and eggplant. We’re also increasingly seeing more of a mixing up of ages and gender at the tables than we did our first days of the program as the kids are branching out of their more comfortable circles and expanding the reach of their friendships.

After lunch, the students did some hands-on painting of Peking Opera masks in their classrooms with their teachers. Some of the students stuck to the pre-established forms of opera characters, while others exercised some degree of artistic license to produce more fanciful masks according to their own imaginations. One student—Shannon—even arrived late to dinner to finish the mask she was so engrossed in completing.

After our mask painting, Liao Laoshi led a Leadership Workshop on the topic of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). She began first with a discussion of IQ, asking students what they believe this measures and how much it can predict a person’s success and happiness in life. She then introduced the concept of Emotional Intelligence, and asked the students why anyone might want to study about Emotional Intelligence. David had a very perceptive response to this question: “Because you can do far more being nice than you can by being smart.” This challenged students to consider that EQ might matter more than even IQ in terms of a person’s success.

Liao Laoshi then helped the students break EQ down into five different domains. The first of these domains is “knowing your emotions.” The students compiled of list of various “negative” emotions one might experience on any given day that are useful feelings to be able to acknowledge and label: upset; envy, depression; anxiety; fear; embarrassment; disappointment. We also labeled some positive emotions that one might want to recognize as they arise: excitement; happiness; gratitude; curiosity. Liao Laoshi then identified the second domain of Emotional Intelligence: managing your emotions. Students were quick to realize that having knowledge of their emotions is an important first step to then being able to learn to manage these emotions. We then broke the third domain—motivating yourself—into three components (purpose; determination; and hard work).

Liao Laoshi then introduced the fourth domain of Emotional Intelligence: Recognizing and understanding other people’s emotions. As Rebecca put it: “This is called ‘empathy.’” Many students have learned the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That is, treat others the way you want to be treated. Liao Laoshi then taught us “the Platinum Rule” which is a marker of a more developed level of emotional intelligence: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” This rule challenges us to strive to meet others on their own terms and take into account diversity and the uniqueness of individuals. Liao Laoshi pointed out that we had already practiced this as a group when we contemplated how best to acknowledge the twins’ twelfth birthday. They were out to dinner with their parents while we that evening how to best surprise them. Some students suggested we hide in their room and jump out and surprise them. But Liao Laoshi encouraged the students to really think about who the twins are as individuals and how they might want us to celebrate. The group realized Elaine and Yvonne may not be comfortable with a big surprise on their return, but would be probably be happiest with a smaller surprise. So everyone made cards that they hung on the walls of their room to greet them, quietly, when they returned home. This perceptiveness and appreciation of other’s unique needs and desires will go a long way in helping our children to become effective leaders.

Finally, we arrived at the fifth domain of Emotional Intelligence: managing the emotions of others. We talked about the differences between controlling others’ emotions and managing these. Fortunately, we have a wonderful role model for this skill amongst us: our director of teachers, Wang Laoshi. Multiple times, our students have witnessed Teacher Wang’s phenomenal skills in creating good relations between our program and the hotel management here and effectively helping us get what we need to run a good program, all the while creating good feelings all around.

Liao Laoshi talked about how our "circle of control" is smaller than our "circle of concern." This means that, in our circle of concern, we may have direct control, indirect control, or no control at all. She wrapped this lesson up with the teaching of a Chinese phrase: yue na (to gracefully receive). Ultimately when all else fails and you cannot control a situation, sometimes the most powerful and effective thing you can do is gracefully accept this fact and make the best of things despite this apparent lack of control. We had another great family-style dinner together, and then finally gathered for reflection before the last of homework and bed. William shared his appreciation for those that stayed after the mask painting to clean up all the paints, mentioning his classmate, Andrew’s generosity in particular. Your children are really starting to see one another and the world around them with a fresh and heightened awareness.

All the best from Beijing,

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