La Salle Study Centre Changjiao
December 2009 Newsletter
Greetings. Peace and Joy is within you.
It seems just a very short time ago that I wrote about LSSC’s limited summer programme for 2009 and now it is time once again to write a few lines to round up this Chinese Lunar year of the OX (2009) and prepare to welcome the year of the Tiger (2010). Let us pray that the strength, prowess and fearless characteristic of the Tiger will auger good fortune for all.
I remember once writing about the “dog-napping” season in Hakka land. Just to refresh your memory, dogs are always kept in the house at night when it starts getting cold in late autumn and throughout the winter. It is not because of the cold weather but more because dog-napping is very common during the cold season. Those of you who are puzzled and do not know why please ask a Hakka friend or read through our articles of yesteryears.
Immediately after our summer programme, we received many invitations to have dinners with parents of our students. I was not too keen to go and so I made the excuse that there were still a few students staying with me and that I did not feel good to leave my assistants Ms Nancy and Benny behind. Well, soon I knew such excuses could be overcome. All of us were invited out together and cars were sent to ferry us to and from dinner. Without doubt the students staying in enjoyed eating out and I must admit that it was good for the stay-in students from the hills to mix with the students of Huliao whose parents were our host.
It was at one of these dinners out that I noticed that the cars sent to fetch us were without number plates whereas I knew those cars were either official government department cars or properly registered and insured private vehicles. At one of those dinners, acting rather stupidly – which is never too difficult for me – I casually asked if cars no longer required registration. I was then told that “car numberplate-napping” was getting out of hand and so many car owners locked his/her number plate in the boot of the car. I was still puzzled until it was explained to me that one cannot just replace the number plate as car number plates must be issued by the traffic police and it cost more than the ransom of RMB300 the numberplate-napper(s) demanded for the “safe” return of the “kidnapped” numberplate. So, that’s the way it is. A monopolistic regulation to prevent “fraud” imposed by the traffic police is a “business opportunity” for those who are not too greedy.
Registration of students for the academic year 2009-2010 took place on 12th and 13th September. As to be expected, though we intended to register only 60 students for the Beginners Class, we ended up with 86. We also registered about 60 students for Class Two and about the same number for Class Three. As usual, the numbers in the Senior Class is unpredictable as Senior High School students often have extra classes on Saturdays and some even for half a day on Sundays. Effectively therefore, when we resumed tuition classes on 19th September 2009 we had an average population of about 240 students.
Oh yes, the H1N1 flu not only disrupted our annual English Reading Programme this summer of 2009 as recorded in our August article, but it also prevented what would otherwise be another landmark event for LSSC. In December of 2008, a group of St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College trained retired teachers meet for dinner in Ipoh. It was then decided that a visit to LSSC was to be organised for September 2009. I made preparations in China and my students, their parents and the villagers were all excited about the visit of Liao Laoshi’s Malaysia friends. Paul Chu organised the group in Malaysia. I was looking forward to hosting about 15 to 20 visitors. Then came the outbreak of H1N1 and only Francis Sim of Melaka and his wife Dolly kept on course and visited us from 15th to 23rd September. They told me that they were surprised at the standard of English spoken at LSSC and would love to volunteer for a summer programme some time in the future. I guess their most memorable evening was when they were invited to have dinner with the mayor of Huliao. They were thrilled at the opportunity of being chauffeured in an official government MPV for a short tour of Huliao before dinner.
Dabu-Huliao has developed beyond recognition since I arrived in March 2002 at the beginning of Project Mission China. Town planning is very evident as can be seem in the many new and beautifully lit and decorated roads. The new areas are fast pulling economic activities from the older part of the city. The riverside promenade on both bank of the river is almost completed and is very popular as a walking venue for locals young and old. A new park up a hill close by the riverside is being built and is already very popular although work is still in progress.
During the Nation Day holiday week, a group of 15 students and I walked from our village to the new park. It is 5 km from Changjiao to the riverside, another 2 km to the entrance of the park. I am afraid the students did not bargain for the long walk when they accepted my invitation to go for a “picnic”. They thought I had booked a bus for the trip. Still I must say they were game to have a go at it. We left the village at 7.30 in the morning and arrived at the hill top of the park at 10.30. Some of them were visibly tired when we began our descend half an hour later. Were they glad when we reached a food stall to have our lunch just before 1 p.m. I cannot forget the audibly loud groans when after lunch I suggested that we walk back. Ah well, some times I do get soft so I gave in to their request that we go home by taxi as the bus services that pass by Changjiao do not run till after 2.30 p.m.
On 10th November I returned to Hong kong and by 15th November I arrived back in Malaysia. Coming home this year was very special for me as the students of La Salle School Klang of 1983-86 made contact with me and organised a sort of “home-coming” to the school. These “old boys” are now parents and their children are student of La Salle Klang and some are actively involved in the PTAs of both the Primary and Secondary Schools. I thank the organizers, the Headmistress Ms Lily, teachers and Prefects, retired former teachers and past students for welcoming me back on Saturday 21st November and allowed me to share my “adventure” in China with them. I thank everyone for the lunch and for the kind donation to help run La Salle Study Centre, Changjiao for 2010. As usual, I refrain from mentioning names but rest assured that I remember all of you in my prayers. I have said it many times in the past and I will have to continue acknowledging that it is the generous support of Lasallians of Malaysia, Singapore and Hong kong that makes LSSC what it is today.
Thank you. Take care and be assured that the Good Lord blesses you and your loved one in the forthcoming year of the Tiger and the many years more to come.
As always with love in the service of youth and nation through DLS,
All good things must
come to an end...