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"YingHua in Beijing" Summer Program Announcement

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by Liao,Bonnie on 2010-07-04

Dear Parents,

We had blue sky today and saw clouds for the first time since we came here.

The morning exercises from 7 to 7:50 a.m. started with a warm-up jog of about half a mile to Chaoyang Park. Yesterday Mei Laoshi (Dr. Colette Plum) took some students to have their photos taken for 10 yuan. Today we were met by Wang Laoshi near the park, who is the director of our program working for our Chinese partner and is a retired outstanding former elementary teacher. She and I had discussed some details of the program the night before until past midnight and then  she got up at 5:30 a.m. to go to the park to get the park passes for everyone. You can tell the dedication of our staff from this one incident.

Many of the students chose to run around the large lake (about 1 mile) and those, who chose not to run the large circle, ran a smaller circle four times. Benoit and Tristan led the pack through the many groups of early risers (mostly seniors) who were doing a wide-range of morning exercises in the park. We hope that, by the end of the third week, the majority of the students will be able to run 1 mile nonstop.

Zong Laoshi taught the group the remaining half of the guang-bo-ti-cao. Then the students did 50m dash run three times. Zong Laoshi also taught the kids how to play the "Iron Ring" - a very popular child's game in the pre-electronic-game days. It's much harder than it looks so!

The Chinese lessons are from 8:45 a.m. to 11:55 a.m. Before the class started, Mei Laoshi and I talked to the teachers for the B and C classes at length about differentiated instructions in these two classes. The teachers are very receptive and open-minded with our suggestions.

The Chinese painting class was from 1:30 to 3 p.m. We learned about the uniqueness of Chinese painting comparing to the western oil painting. The teacher, Mr. Zhang, is an established artist. He introduced four famous Chinese painting masters and their masterpieces. Then he covered a wide-range of the fundamental knowledge about Chinese painting. In the end, the students got to practice and familiarize themselves with their brushes. They are ready for the next lesson to paint a real piece.

After a brief break, we set off to Chaoyang Park to swim. On the way to the park, we suggested every student try the Beijing's "yogurt-in-a-crock." This has been my favorite since my childhood when only the most natural yogurt was available. Mei Laoshi has fallen in love with it since the days when she and Jaosn lived in Beijing for years. The kids loved it!

Then we took the public bus for two stops to get to the other gate near the swimming pool. It's an interesting experience in itself.

The students had a great time at the pool in this hot summer afternoon. They played water games with some Chinese kids as well. Then they had a race in the deep-water pool with two Phillips and Jessika in one team and Benoit, William, and Stephanie in the other.. until we left there at 5:30 p.m.

During the reflection that started at 7:30 p.m., again, many kids are now eager to share first. Their reflection of the day was full of grateful feelings. Haoran shared a thoughtful observation that the local people at the swimming pool were very happy despite what seemed to be the less fancy facilities than those in the U.S. Two other students also commented on how impressed they were with the seniors at the park, who were using all kinds of non-motorized apparatus to exercise and stay fit.

It is one of our objectives to teach the students to understand the importance of respecting others. Being grateful to others and not taking their efforts for granted can help build the foundation for great communications as an effective leader. Just a couple of days ago, some kids would not feel any sense of gratitude towards some people's effort simply because they thought these people were paid to do the work ("They had to do it if they wanted to get paid.").

Now the group's mindset has mostly changed into a grateful and appreciative one through the sharing of their own daily reflections with each other. They are really teaching each other. For instance, when the kids were thankful about the two families that fed us in hutong, no one mentioned that those families were actually paid to take care of us. Instead, the focus was completely on how much work those families must have put in to feed us before feeding themselves. Lauren noticed how many dishes the hosts would have to wash after us. At one family, the host quickly made more dumplings for our kids when she saw that there were not enough. Our kids felt so grateful that they managed to stuff all the newly made dumplings and would not want to waste any ... to express their gratitude and appreciation for the host family. As an educator, it is such moments that have moved us and have made our efforts all worthwhile. We wanted to thank you for sharing your children with us.

Today is the birthday of the twins, Elaine and Yvonne. During the evening meeting, everyone contributed ideas for how to let them know they wanted to wish them a happy birthday while being sensitive to how they would like to be treated. In the end, the group decided to have everyone write a note/card for the sisters and Min-min volunteered to collect and post them on the walls of their room!

The students then split into groups to do online research on Forbidden City and (optionally) the Peking Opera because tomorrow is another full-day of field trip! Stay tuned.


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