La Salle Study Centre Changjiao
September 2011 Newsletter
Greetings from LSSC Changjiao. Peace and Joy is within you.
This, our September report, is always our annual report about our popular LSSC Summer English Reading Programme. Before all else, I want to express our grateful thanks to all Lasallians, friends of La Salle, relatives and personal friends, for your generous and continuous support that has made it possible for LSSC Changjiao to function effectively and to noticeably develop in stages each year. As usual, no names are mentioned but I assure you that you are always in my prayers. Thank you and God bless.
This year our Summer English Reading Programme kicked off on Monday 18th July. Preparations began two weeks ahead. We had 5 hectic days of registration from 6th to 10th July where each and every student was examined and interviewed. This is the only opportunity each year for me to meet and talk to each student individually. From the administrative point of view, it takes up a lot of time, both for me and for the students who have to wait patiently for their test and personal interview but it is a very worthwhile exercise from the relationship point of view. A touching moment this year was the sight of a father carrying his son, who had injured his leg, on his back to attend the interview. A special feature this year was that throughout the 5 days, while the interviews were going on, some of our local student volunteers were already on hand to provide additional tutoring to those needing special or additional assistance. They were without doubt, in our Lasallian culture, “big sisters and brothers” to those in need.
Six student volunteers from La Salle College, Kowloon, accompanied by the teachers, promptly arrived on 16th July. Our local student volunteers were on hand to welcome them and to help them settle down. As usual, after dinner we had our getting to know you and orientation session. We had a total of 34 LSSC trained local junior high school, senior high school and university students in our teaching team this year.
In addition to the above student volunteers, we were blessed with the presence of three adult volunteers. We thank Sister Anna Ling from Sarawak who arrived a week early and was leader of the clean-up squad. She combined very well with and was a great help to our teaching assistant Nancy Liao in all the remote preparation work and was one of the two discipline teachers for the duration of the programme. We also want to put on record our thanks to Mrs Christina Eu and Ms Vera Ee, both from Singapore for volunteering as companions and mentors to our student volunteers.
As in the last two years, we had to limit the number of students we accept by applying the “regular weekend students only” rule. Effectively then, we tried not take in new students except those who were residents of other cities. This year we had students from Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Foshan in Guangdong Province and others from the Provinces of Hunan, Henan, Fujian and even far off Taiwan. They were all supposed to be descendants of Changjiao and were required to stay with relatives in the village of Changjiao throughout the duration of the programme. This was to ensure that they had someone in the village to teach them in the afternoon so that they could learn well. From the point of view of family ties, they would get to know their relatives – uncles and aunties and grandparents – better.
Well, that was the rule and the stated purpose. Yet, we know some “slipped” in as local parents, desperate to have their children join the programme, resorted to sending their children away to other cities at the beginning of the holidays and to return just in time for the registration. Well, technically speaking they “came back from ….” to join our summer programme. We can make the rules but if others circumvent them there is nothing we can do. After all, “rules are made for man and not man for the rules.” On the plus side, in general, villagers of Changjiao are proud that long “lost” relatives returned to claim linage and Changjiao was the most vibrant village in all of Dabu with lots of youngsters around during the summer. Normally, villages are depleted of youngsters as they go to the cities during the holidays to visit their parents or relatives.
This year, at the suggestion of our regular students, we chose as our theme “Togetherness and Thankfulness” centered on two songs, “We are all in this together” an English song from a musical and “Thankful Heart” a popular local Mandarin song that can also be sung in English. The students were taught to sing and dance to the song “We are all in this together”. They also learn the accompanying hand signage for the song “Thankful heart”. The texts of both songs were part of our reading programme. Four local students learnt the dance routine two weeks before the programme and were the dance instructors to the four teaching teams. The effectiveness of this song and dance item was apparent on the last day as they formed the core of the farewell activities. The level of very active participation was exceptionally high this year with many students wanting to stay on at the end of the farewell function to take photographs just to hang around their “little teachers”.
A little statistics is in order here. In Class One, (mainly primary 4 & 5) there were 112 students. In Class Two, (primary 6 & junior middle 1) there were 80 students. In Class Three, (junior middle 2 & 3) there were 93 students and in Class Four (senior middle & uni.) there were 82 students. There were also 4 adult (teachers & parents) following our programme. These 367 students, together with our 40 student volunteers and the adult teaching staff of 5 made up a total of 412 participants this summer.
An army cannot go to war without food. So our volunteers had to be feed. In order to ensure a supply of good pork, pork ribs and pig bones we slaughtered a pig for meat this summer. I want to express our thanks to villagers who freely gave us vegetables. I also wish to record our thanks to our hardworking kitchen staff of 5 volunteers. We had to feed about 70 people every meal as apart from our volunteers there were also other students, for one reason or another, who joined us for meals.
During our summer programme, a TV crew of eight from Guangzhou under orders from the Guangdong Provincial Government Department of Overseas Chinese Affairs spent 3 days filming at LSSC. Apparently LSSC has been selected for an award presentation ceremony in Guangzhou at the end of November. I have been asked to remain in China on 17th 18th and 19th November as I will be invited as a guest of the Guangdong Government for the ceremony. This is an interesting development just as I will complete 10 years of mission here in Changjiao in March 2012.
Not to be outdone, the TV station from Meixian also sent a TV crew of four to make a documentary of my life and work in Changjiao for the State of Meizhou. They hope to have their programme broadcasted before the Award Ceremony in Guangzhou at the end of November.
I must say that our students reacted marvelously to the “intrusion” of cameramen and photographers while we were having our lessons and other activities. They were unfazed by the presence of cameramen and photographers milling around. The TV crew selected and interviewed volunteers, students, parent and villagers.
The Spring Festival of 2012 comes early on 23rd January. Universities across China re-open two weeks earlier than usual. So on Monday 22nd August I began giving our LSSC university fee subsidies to our local university students who started to return to their respective universities. This year we have a record of 11 Changjiao students studying at various universities. These, plus one other special case from Kopi, brings the total to 12 recipients. LSSC university fee subsidies for the 2011-2012 academic year is at RMB60,000.
Take care and God bless.
As always with love in the service if youth and nation through DLS,
All good things must
come to an end...