La Salle Study Centre Changjiao
September 2010 Newsletter
Greetings from LSSC Changjiao. Peace and Joy is within you.
When I last wrote at the end of June, I remarked that “waiting patiently” is a much needed virtue here in Changjiao as in most rural settings in China today. Time however moves on relentlessly ... very slowly for some and very quickly for others. Thank God, for us at LSSC time passes by very quickly in an endless sequence of preparation, implementation and completion of one event after another.
At a personal level, I want to record my thanks to the organising commitee of La Salle Petaling Jaya class of 1976/77 for inviting me to join in their reunion gathering on 10th July in Petaling Jaya to celebrate their “arrival at age 50 – half a century mark”. It gave me an opportunity to take a short break before the start of our demanding summer English Reading Programme. To all who were present that night, I want to say a big “Thank You”. I am sure all the teachers present that night were delighted to see you again. The greatest reward for us as teachers is to know that you, our students, have taken your rightful place in society and doing your part to make this world a better place.
I did most of the remote preparations for Summer 2010 before I returned to Malaysia for the above even. I returned to Hongkong on 13th July and was back at LSSC Changjiao on 14th July. The immediate preparations got underway immediately ... putting up temporary shelter for extra classroom space, setting up a temporay kitchen to cook meals for about 55 students, preparing dormitories for 25 volunteers and students from out of town, last minute registration of students from out of town, the installation of an electric generator in case of power failure, etc. Thank God, apart from out local students, some villagers came forward to help. We were comfortably ready to welcome students on 19th July, the first day of our 22 days Summer English Reading Programme.
This summer, we had 5 “outside” volunteer teaching assistants, 4 boys from La Salle College, Kowloon, a girl from Holy Family Canossian College, Hong Kong. Our local volunteer teaching assistants included 5 University students, 6 Senior high school students and 9 Junior high school students. On the main staff were Ms MaryRose from Malaysia, who took charge of all tutoring and testing activities; Ms Nancy Liao my teaching assistant who took charge of students affairs dealing with parents; and as usual I taught all 4 classes for an hour each as main presenter. We decided to run 4 classes of two hours each, the first hour in the lecture hall I taught and the second hour in small tutoring groups of 2 to 4 students per tutor led by Ms Maryrose.
Owing to unforeseen circumstances of possible typhoon conditions, the 5 volunteer teaching assistants from Hongkong only arrived on 18th July and left on 31st July. Apart from a short night orientation session to get to know our local volunteers, they were thrown in to deep end straight off the very next morning. We had a reporting, evaluation and briefing session every night to prepare for the following day to keep taps on the teaching and learning processes.
The Hongkong volunteers had only a single one night home-stay exposure with a local family mid-way on 24th July. Even then, the bond of friendship that developed was evident by the tearful farewell on 31st July with many a hugs and promises to keep in contact. We thank our teachers from La Salle College, Kowloon, Hongkong for accompanying our volunteers.
While on this note, we like to say a big thank you to Mr. Nicholas Ng, Mr. Michael Tse, Mr. Measure Hung, and Mr. Victor Ling, members of the Lasallian Education Council, Hongkong, for visiting us and spending a whole day with us, witnessing our programme and talking with our students. We take this opportunity to thank Hongkong Lasallians for their support of this mission. (Please go to http://lasallestudycentre.shutterfly.com/69 to view their report.)
The breakdown of participants this year is as follows: 5 teachers (3 ladies and 2 men), 14 university students, 27 senior high school students, 81 junior high school students, 162 primary four to six students and 12 local children aged 7-9. A total of 39 are “outside” students from Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Foshan, Huizhou, Chowzhou, Meixian and Fujian.
This year we managed, by not admitting local students only for the summer programme, to keep the number of participants to 301, not counting some senior high school students who could just be with us for 10 days because they had to return to school for extra lessons throughout the summer. Class One was our biggest class with 124 students. This was because some class two, class three and even class four students sat in order to revise and improve their reading skills. We thank our volunteers for their dedication in patiently tutoring and guiding their charges throughout the 22 days of lessons. One of the high points of this year’s programme was the singing of China’s National Anthem twice a week in Putonghua and in English. We composed the English lyrics. I take this opportunity to thank all concerned for regularly sending very useful Power Point Presentations, articles and stories, especially the dual language (English-Chinese) materials.
Since the beginning of 2010, the local bus company has been running special weekend bus services direct from Dabu-Huliao to LSSC Changjiao for students, synchronizing with our class schedule. The service continued throughout the summer programme making it very convenient for students to attend lessons. The drivers were very considerate to provide free transport to our villagers who wanted to travel to town.
In the past we were often disrupted by power failure during the summer. In June I made enquiries for a generator and one of our students’ parents took responsibility to place and order for an imported Honda petrol generator. I made a down payment of RMB4000. A week before we began our programme, a 5.5kW Honda generator, powerful enough to run LSSC’s crucial air conditioners, fans, refrigerators and freezers, overhead projectors and computers, was delivered and installed. We are very thankful that an anonymous local donor picked up the remaining cost. We only had to generate our own power for one day when there was a 10 hours blackout. The other excitement over power supply was when our electric meter caught fire just as lessons ended one day because birds made their nests inside the box housing the meter and the nests caught fire in the summer’s heat.
As in last summer, we had a professional chef cooking for us this summer. Last summer, the chef was one of our students. Incidentally he is now working as a chef in a 5 star international hotel in Macau. This summer, he is my cousin in Changjiao, a professional chef who was taking 3 months off from work to learn to drive in order to obtain a driving license. We had a kitchen staff of 4 to take care of the meals. The students were divided into work teams, to help the kitchen staff clean up after every meal, sweep and tidy up LSSC, tend and water the garden and clear rubbish every day. On a normal day, we provide breakfast and lunch for 55 students and dinner for 35 students.
We took great care to ensure that our volunteers and stay-in students were well fed and that a high standard of hygiene maintained throughout. Thank God, there was no case of food poisoning and in general all ate well. Dabu was hit by an outbreak of swine fever this summer. We took the decision to buy our own pigs and slaughter them ourselves. Of cause we had to share the pigs with others although we had the lion share each time. In total, we slaughtered 3 pigs.
On this note, I end our summer story. I wish to thank everyone for whatever part they play in making it possible for us to maintain and run LSSC Changjiao all these years. We are now busy preparing for the 2010/11 academic year. Tuition classes at LSSC resume on 18th September. Please keep us in your prayers. Take care and God bless.
As always with love in DLS,
All good things must
come to an end...