We will be leaving tomorrow morning. Please see updates for Day 4 and this morning. We will finish the rest when we are back home. Thank you for letting us have your wonderful children this week. Peter and I are so fortunate to have your trust to lead them at this meaningful program. We thoroughly enjoyed this experience because of your children.
Thank you and see you soon.
Jackie & Peter
Day 5 – Friday, 4/25 – AM
A huge thunder woke us up today. We are disappointed that it was still raining but excited about today’s agenda. The kids will be sitting in on some classes with the Yizhong students.
One group went to sit in on a math class, another to a Chinese class. The math class was pretty hard but the kids understood most parts. The Chinese class was about “Lei Yu”. It was very hard to understand but some of the kids actually got the essence of it. They also sat in on a geography class and a biology class. We are all very proud of our kids for their eagerness in learning.
Between the classes, we participated in a formal donation ceremony when our donation was officially announced. Our kids were so happy to see all the scholarship recipients again.
More to come….
Day 4 – Thursday, 4/24
We got a short break from the rain in the early morning hours. Most of us got up early again and went out to the Athletic fields for some excercise. Peter and the boys plus Savannah played basket ball. Brian had a ping pong match with an Yizhong student, and Sam played tennis with Jackie on a wet court. Yizhong was very nice in providing us with all the sports equipment.
We were slightly late for breakfast and just made it for the first class at 8:05am. By now, all our kids can navigate the buildings and find the classrooms they are teaching by themselves. Many Yizhong teachers approached me and told me how mature and independent our kids are because they know what they are doing and there is no need for the teachers to give them instructions or directions, and they wish that the Yizhong students could be as capable. I told them that Yizhong students can be the same if they are given the freedom and opportunity. Most Chinese students are more reserved because they are taught so. They appeared to be more reliant on teachers because they are used to yielding to authorities. Our kids are stars here for a variety of reasons, their openness, outgoing personalities, engaging and respectful attitude, and their Chinese with cute accents. To Yizhong students, our kids bring a breath of fresh air to the campus and they are taking in wholeheartedly. To our kids, Yizhong students’ showed their sincerity and friendliness and we are soaking in their hospitality.
A morning of 4-hour classroom teaching was rewarded with another delicious lunch. We had pork with mei cai “mei cai kou rou”, another local specialty, seaweed soup, tofu, scallion beef, and baby bok choy. We encouraged everyone to eat more as we need the fuel for our afternoon activity of visiting the scholarship recipients’ homes.
It proved true that we needed all the fuel we’ve got. Accompanied by the Gao Yi director Chen, we walked about 5 miles on foot in the rain and visited 4 families living in Chongren. Even though we all got wet and the walk was tiring and at times “adventurous”, it was a memorable experience as we saw how those students and their families lived. Most of them rent rooms and have very small living spaces and simple furnishings. “Bare minimium” is what depicts most of their homes and life style. One of the students took time off from school and returned home to greet us and introduced his mom to us. His mom was surprised to hear Justin describing his son’s career aspiration of becoming a writer, favorite food of fried rice noodle and friend sticky rice cake, favorite music, favorite movies and idols, nodding her head with a shy smile to show that Justin got it right. She knew we had a meet & greet last night but didn’t expect that they would know each other this much. The home visit is an important part of our program because we would like for our kids to learn first hand that you can still thrive in school and society and be your best even if you have very little materially. Many of the kids we are supporting are so positive in their outlook even with the most difficult and sometimes unfair life situation. We all can learn so much from them and their families. And yes we learned as no one complained about soaking wet pants, sneakers and socks when we go back!
We were delighted to see visitors upon our return from the home visit. Ryan’s grandparents and aunt came all the way from Fujian to see Ryan and us. Ryan beamed with joy. We were thankful for all the goodies they brought us. The kids couldn’t wait until dinner time as they were all invited by the students to a party at the Gao Yi Classroom 2 for some fun at 7:00pm. All had a fun time at the party. The Yizhong students were sad that our kids will be leaving soon but happy to have all of them in their classroom for chatting and photo opportunities. Cards were exchanged and signatures given out. It is then time to go back to the dorm for some rest as the kids had a long day. Peter led the kids for all the evening activities while Jackie was doing a Q&A for an assembly of students on American schools and education.
The rain did not seem to want to relent. It probably sensed the saddness that tomorrow is our last day at Yizhong. Everything was wet but we all felt warm at heart. After the girls finished writing up a card for the Yizhong students, we went to bed.
Jackie & Peter