La Salle Study Centre Changjiao

June 2009 Newsletter






Greetings from La Salle Study Centre, Changjiao, China
How the months pass by.  In early April, I attended the Asian Brothers Alliance Council Assembly in Pattaya , Thailand .  We celebrated Holy Week and Easter together.  I have been at LSSC since then.

In my March write-up, I mentioned the plight of a 70+ villager and his son that I discovered living in a broken down shack at the fringe of the village.  Thanks to the generous financial support of Lasallians in Hongkong, work to build a cemented pathway to his property began on 25th April.  It was completed on 7th May.  Electrical power supply from LSSC was connected to his house on 27th
April.  He finally has the benefit of electric lighting after living there for more than 25 years.  I wanted to build a simple cement house for him so that his 30+ son can have a chance to marry a wife but he declined.  In his own eccentric way, he wants to build his own house in traditional Hakka style.  I respect his desire and so I gave him a supply of cement, wooden beams and planks as he requested. 


After completing the road and electricity project for the old man we started digging a well for LSSC on Friday 8th May.  We had anxious moments when at 6-7 meters we hit sandy strata.  The wall began collapsing as water and sand seeped in.  We made no progress for a whole day and I was prepared to close the well as it was getting dangerous.  Thank God, we managed to get through that the next day and dug about 2 meters into sandstone.  We now have a well 9 meters deep that gives us, at this moment, 3 meters of water.  The water is crystal clear cool underground water.  The water will be lab tested after two months of use watering flowers and plants.  If it is safe to drink it will be connected it to our water supply system and thus solve our water problem during the summer. 

At the end of June, we completed our regular school hour duties teaching English at Changjiao Primary School , Qicun Yong Jin Primary School and our LSSC sponsored kindergarten.  Last Sunday 14th June we had our last weekend tuition lessons at LSSC.  The regular weekend students were all tested and registered for this summer’s English Reading Programme.  Registration for new and old students of the summer programme will commence on Saturday 20th June. 

Going back a little in time, we welcomed the arrival of Ms Lye Yan Lin a graduate from the University of Southern California on 23rd March.  Her young sister Ms Lye Yan Ting was a volunteer last summer.  Yan Lin is our first long haul volunteer.  Her long term presence here is much appreciated as she gets fully involved into the life and mission here at LSSC.  She is a good teacher and companion to Nancy our first resident assistant teacher.  

Then on May 4th we greeted the arrival of Mr. Benny Lee, a certified Western Cook from Guangzhou who is keen to be able to converse in English, and Ms Tania Yang, an undergraduate English student who also wants to be able to converse in English.  They, together with the three primary school students who stay in during the weekend, form our LSSC community of 8 thus making us the largest resident “family” in Baijiang during the weekends. 

Thanks to the dedicated commitment of Yan Lin to encourage, tease and teach, I can see much progress made all round.  Yan Lin’s ability to do research in the internet is a real bonus.  She helps me hunt down ideas and materials readily available in the net and thus helps me improve my teaching method and gathers suitable teaching materials for LSSC.   She will leave us on 25th June.  We are going to miss her but gladly see her go as she leaves us to pursue her post graduate studies at Cambridge University, England . 

On a lighter vein, we celebrated Duan Wu or Dragon Boat festival together as a Baijiang village activity.  We chose Sunday 24th which was 4 days earlier to celebrate since the actual day was on Thursday 28th and the children had to go to school.  We organized Baijiang’s villagers together to tie “chang” [glutinous rice dumplings] and had dinner together.  We created the festival mood.  We spent the whole morning tying more than 700 “changs” and cooked them in huge woks.  That evening we had a simple dinner of herbal chicken soup, fried noodles and a “meat chang” each for about 100 people.  On Monday morning I distributed the “changs” to every family.  It was the first time the whole of Baijiang celebrated Duan Wu together as a community, sharing a common meal. 

I mentioned in my March write-up that three teachers from a school in another town came for lessons Friday and Saturday nights.  I was delighted to have them as I had all along wanted to teach teachers.  I am afraid that pioneering teacher training project had failed.  Citing lack of time because of busy school teaching responsibilities, the three teachers stopped coming after just two weekends.  

There was excitement at Changjiao’s Primary School in May.  Early on Monday morning 18th May, the headmaster informed me that two kindergarten students show signs of hand-foot-mouth disease.  We immediate informed our village secretary who in turn informed the Disease Prevention Department of Dabu-Huliao.  A team of health inspectors turned up to examine all the students and set up procedures to disinfect the whole school.  They confirmed that the two kindergarten children who are from one family indeed had hand-foot-mouth disease.  Their home was also disinfected and we were advised to close the kindergarten for two weeks. 

On June 1st we celebrated Children’s Day at Changjiao Primary School .  With the assistance of Yan Lin and Nancy, and the cooperation of the teaching staff, this year’s celebration was very different for the decade old similar activities of all primary schools in Dabu.  We created a carnival atmosphere with activities such as hola-hoop, skip rope, musical squares, kicking feathered ball, singing and dancing.  Prizes were generously given to the students as they participated in the activities.  We ended with a tea party for the students together with teachers, parents and village officers.  Each child went home happy and proud to have bags of goodies and presents.  Needless to say LSSC funded the whole event.  It was money well spent to give the primary students a memorable Children’s Day. 

While preparations are going ahead for our popular annual summer English Reading Programme, dark clouds are looming in the horizon because on 11th June WHO raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 in response to the ongoing global spread of the novel influenza A(H1N1) virus.  A recent discussion with our political secretary, local medical officer and some parents suggests that as a precautionary measure it is preferable not to hold this year’s summer programme as there is now an advisory notice from the disease prevention authorities to avoid large gatherings this summer.  A limited small scale programme for local village students should not be a problem.  It is a wait and see situation for the present. 

With this note of caution, I end this report.  Once again on behalf of the students of LSSC and their parents, and local village students pursuing university studies who are supported by LSSC’s Annual University Fees Subsidy Scheme I thank Lasallians of our District of Malaysia-Singapore-Hongkong for their generous and consistent financial support.

Take care and God bless.  Please keep us in your prayers.

As always with love in the service of youth and nation through DLS,


Tuesday 16th June 2009

La Salle Study Centre


All good things must come to an end... that better things may begin!!!
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