La Salle Study Centre Changjiao
June 2010 Newsletter
Greetings. Peace and Joy is within you.
I was reminded by Br Vincent to write 3 weeks ago but somehow I could not find a slot of time to work quietly and undisturbed. I returned to Hongkong on Friday evening, rested well yesterday and so today, Sunday 27th, I just have to sit down and get this article written.
Our regular schedule of teaching weekdays in the village primary school – kindergarten to primary 4 – and and weekend tuition at LSSC came to an end on Children’s Day, 1st June. Unlike previous years when it was a day for our primary students to receive gifts, play games, win prizes etc purely as a form of entertainment, we decided to change the purpose and objective to a day for parents or guardians to visit the school and for students to put up performances to show what they have learnt in school.
When the idea was
first proposed, the headmaster was not in favour saying that other
schools were all following the traditional way of celebrating Children’s
Day which had not changed for the last 20 years or more, i.e same
format, programme, games etc. We argued that last year we changed the
activities and there was no repercussion or adverse reaction from the
villagers. Basically, he was worried about the cost since parents or
guardians thus invited will have to be offered drinks and share in the
simple end of event “tea party” before going home. To cut the story
short, LSSC offered to underwrite the expenses. He agreed. End of
I took the opportunity to explain to the headmaster and teachers, who have been complaining that subsidy from the government and village administration is insufficient to run the school, that schools all over the world, have to have events where parents/guardians and members of the public are invited to witness, in order to raise, through donations, the extra funds needed. So, when they presented the invitation list of parents/guardians, education department officers and village officials, I suggested that they add to the list some businessmen in Dabu-Huliao who are somehow connected to Changjiao. Why they asked, since the children of these businessmen do not study in our village school. Just give it a try I said. I further suggested that these invitation cards should be hand delivered either by the headmaster or the deputy headmaster. Fortunately they did as proposed and to their surprise they received donations in access of the expenses required to run the event – from those who did not have children in our school and did not turn up – thus learning the lesson that if a worthwhile thing is done especially for school children, there are people who will support the worthy cause.
The turnout of parents/guardians and guests for Children’s Day 1st June was very encouraging. On paper there should be about 80 guests but we prepared for 100. It was just as well for a number of old folks turned up out of curiosity and some local primary 5 and 6 students from the neighbouring school also came. It was a day for the students to sing, dance and perform much to the delight and pride of their parents. Every class, from kindergarten to primary 4, presented at least one item in English. Those present were pleased to see their children/grand children performed in English although none of them understood a word of what the children said. The highlight of the English performances was the animated recitation of an English poem, “A cat, a mouse and a bumble bee” by a primary three student. All present enjoyed the simple tea party at the end. The students went home proudly wearing the La Salle Primary School Football club donated by our LSPS visitors in April.
LSSC is still making slow but steady progress gaining recognition as an English learning centre for needy students and for low achievers. Graduating High School and Vocational School students are beginning to show interest to improve their English at LSSC before starting their working career. Between early May and early June we accepted three such full time students; one from Dama, a small rural village about 45 km south of Dabu; one from Chowzhou about 200 km away in the province of Fujian; one from Xiher which is just about 30 km north of Changjiao. It is a live-in programme with a 90 minutes formal lesson each day and informal lessons throughout the day especially during meals time. This programme is still very much at an experimental stage. Hopefully it will develop into a regular 100 days programme for students who do not make it to the university but would like to have a practical knowledge of spoken English when looking for a job.
This report will not be complete if we do not mention our visitors. On 17th April, a contingent of 36 from La Salle Primary School, Kowloon, organized by the PTA, visited LSSC. There were 15 students (Pri. 4-6), 16 parents and PTA members (led by Mr. Frankie Jim), 3 teachers (including Mrs. Emily Leung, Headmistress of LSPS) and 2 Brothers (Brs. Steve Hogan and Joseph Hung of LSC). The visit was on a Saturday and so regular weekend classes were in session when they arrived. Ten LSSC students (from primary six to senior middle one) speaking in English throughout, took charge of the welcoming event much to the delight and surprise of our visitors. The students of LSPS responded with poem recitation, kung-fu, quizzes and a delightful “leg-puppet” show led by Br. Joseph Hung. There was so much excitement at LSSC that the shuttle bus driver did not mind waiting for more than half an hour to take the students back to Dabu-Huliao. He was actually among the audience enjoy the excitement and fun of the occasion.
After the welcoming, introduction and interaction sessions at LSSC, our guests were taken on a tour of the village by different groups of students. We then had lunch at LSSC. We offered them a simple meal of local fare cooked by local housewives whose children are students of LSSC. Four parents of our students from Dabu-Huliao who have cars, were on hand to help ferry our students to accompany our visitors on a tour of Dabu-Huliao. Thanks to a parent who is an officer of the local government, we gained free access to the museum and heritage Hakka Stone House. We thank our visitors for hosting dinner for all of us at Jin Fan, the top hotel and restaurant in Dabu-Huliao. For some of our village students, it was their first experience of having dinner in a first class hotel! For me, it was another mile stone in that local parents of LSSC took an active part in a LSSC event. Can this be the seed of a PTA for LSSC Changjiao? Only time can tell.
Our other visitors are Franciscans from Melaka led by Ms. Vivienne Cheong on Saturday 13th June. Although they came prepared to teach a few sessions, they were disappointed because the weekend tuition classes at LSSC had end to allow student to have more time to prepare for their end of academic year examinations. The party was ably assisted by the uncle of Vivienne, a resident of Meizhou. We thank our visitors for taking time off to be with us. Thank you for visiting.
In my March write-up I mentioned that we prioritized three CD projects for 2010, namely, to build a small house for a needy family, to build an incinerator to deal with thrash and to realign and rebuild irrigation canals. The main structure of the house is completed. They are now working at other contracted projects. Since they are working for me partly as voluntary workers, I have to wait till they have a slot of free time. The other two projects are now on hold because of land usage problems. I am adamant that I will not buy any land to build the incinerator or to realign and concrete the irrigation canals. The village authorities promised to help settle the land matter. I am waiting patiently … a much needed virtue in a rural pastoral setting!
I would like to record a big thank you to all who have been so much part of our adventure here at LSSC Changjiao. Those who have visited us, we thank you for coming for your presence adds prestige to our mission here. We look forward to welcome more Lasallians in the near future.
Take care and God bless.
As always with love in the service of youth and nation through DLS,
All good things must
come to an end...