La Salle Study Centre Changjiao
July 2014 Newsletter
2nd Quarter Report 2014
Greetings from LSSC Changjiao. Peace and Joy is within you.
This report should have been written two weeks ago but because so many things were going on that I was unable to take time off to sit down and write. Anyway, it is better late than never, so tonight I decided to hide away and write this short report.
As usual, at time of the year, we have many invitations for lunches and dinners and many visitors because our popular summer English Reading programme is about to begin. Many are “visiting” and some are “inviting” because they want their children to “pay their respect to and know” who Liao Laoshi is. If all the say about me is true, then I must be a living saint!!! I turn down most invitations for meals except when villagers are involved. Last night was the last dinner I accepted because it was organized by the present village secretary and the just retired former village secretary. It is important “to give face”!!!
In my 1st Quarter Report in March, I wrote “The last 140 meters stretch is on the infamous road diversion forced upon us last year. We leave that stretch to the last as it requires time to settle and harden before we build on it. We are hopeful that it will be completed before the end of May and thus marks LSSC greatest contribution to the development of the hamlet of Baijiang in Changjiao by opening up acres of long abandoned farmland.” Thank God, after the many problems we faced in opening up the hill road so that abandoned farmland can be accessible by motorbikes and three-wheeler vehicles, the cementing of the road was completed on Saturday 8th June in spite of delays because of heavy rain.
Talking about the rainstorms brings me to another problem that we faced at LSSC since the middle of last year when a villager was bitten by a dog and subsequently died of suspected rabies. All dogs in Changjiao and the neighboring Qicun was ordered killed and no dogs are allowed in the village for a year. A village without dogs is a heaven for cats and rats which played havoc on the tiny tiles of old village houses of which LSSC is one. Many sparrows nest in between tiles on all old houses in the village. The rats have been happily feasting on the birds and the cats have been having a great time feasting on the rats and the birds. Unfortunately, the cats are very destructive as they turn the tiny tiles over to get at their prey and we have been sending workers up to repair leaks very often since the dogs were eliminated. The last straw came in May when a heavy rainstorm accompanied by strong gusts of wind blew upturned tiles apart and LSSC was leaking all over. It was then that I decided that we have to have a new roof of fired big tiles that are heavy and are screwed in so that cats will not be able to cause any more damage.
Fortunately, when work began on 9th June, weekend tuition classes had ended so that students could have more time to prepare for their respective end of academic year examinations, promotional examinations and entry to university examinations. We had to cancel our special classes for students preparing to enter university because of the re-roofing. On 5th July, the re-roofing was completed and for 5 days, we had a team of volunteers washing and cleaning LSSC and three borrowed village houses in preparation for this summer’s programme. We are ready.
I have also been busy in preparing printed materials for the summer and this year, I hope to speed up the process of learning how to speak by teaching spoken English Grammar through a song. In a moment of inspiration, while playing the ukulele a week ago, I composed a piece of music that I can effectively use to teach 27 commonly used simple sentences. The lyric is very flexible and students can make up their own songs for a lively sing-a-long. In previous years we also sang but not with the purpose of learning English sentence structures. Well, after this summer we will know if this singing approach is a workable method to teach oral English in China. I may have a “hit song” in the China if this takes off!!! Incidentally, it was in March, when I was in Xiamen with some friends that I impulsively bought 5 ukuleles and now I am teaching some volunteers to play the ukuleles to accompany our “Basic Grammar in Song” pedagogy. Providence works in ways we can never guess.
Admission to our summer programme is always a problem as some parents send their children who are not interested just because it is holiday time. After much discussion with our regular volunteers we have decided that local students who have not been attending our weekend tuition classes since September last year (2013) will not be admitted just for the summer. Those who just completed the promotional examinations (Primary 6, Junior 3 and Senior 3) will be accepted and all outstation students who are living with relatives in the village will also be accepted. We are aware many, especially primary students, will be disappointed but we will take them in this coming September a week after schools reopen. In this way, students who are serious about learning English at LSSC will have the opportunity.
At the community development front, as I mentioned earlier, the cementing of the hill road is completed and this year’s pomelo crop looks promising. Collectors have been around and some farmers already have their fruits booked at a price comparable to last year’s crop. So, it is very encouraging and I hope in another two years time when all the trees are fruiting, there will be a reasonable and regular income for every family in sector of Baijiang in Changjiao. What is obvious is that the landscape of the whole of Baijiang has changed … it is nice and green from entrance to the village right into the valley.
I end here for the present. As usual my next report will be about the summer programme. I am told CCTV is planning to make another documentary about LSSC and will be filming us this summer.
As always with love from all of us at LSSC Changjiao.
All good things must
come to an end...