La Salle Study Centre Changjiao

September 2014 Newsletter







La Salle Study Centre – 3rd Quarter Report 2014


Greetings from LSSC Changjiao.  Peace and Joy is within you. 

As always this 3rd Quarter Report is about our very popular Summer English Reading Programme.  Let me first express our words of thanks to the many whose contributions have made it possible.  I will not mention any name but I want to record our thanks and gratitude to all whose act of charity and generosity makes it possible for this LaSallian out-reach mission in this little village of Changjiao to catch the imagination of China’s mass media as LSSC has been featured many times on national CCTV and other regional TV stations.  You can read the news reports and watch the videos by locking onto China’s popular search engine “Baidu” then search for “廖乐年” which is my name in Chinese.   

In my 2nd Quarter Report, I mentioned the re-roofing of LSSC.  It was a costly affair and I was not sure how to secure funding for the project.  Those of you who have been following our story will remember that last year I was awarded, on China’s Teachers’ Day, as one of 10 “2013 - 寻找最美乡村教师.  [Outstanding Rural Village Teacher].  I went to Beijing for the ceremony and we went big time on CCTV before and after the award ceremony on Teachers’ Day 10th September 2013.  Many activities were arranged for us and each of us was offered a personal 5 years Health Insurance and promised RMB200 thousand worth of financial assistance to support for our educational activities.  At the award ceremony we were given a trophy and were told that the official Award Certificate would be sent to us. 

The Health Insurance Agreement arrived in late April 2014.  I was delighted until the fine print was read for me and I discovered that I am not eligible as it covers only those up to 65 years old.  Anyway, I took the opportunity to telephone my contact in Beijing who was one of the organizers of the event about all three matters.   He was apologetic about the Health Insurance but nothing could be done because normal Health Insurance is limited to under 65.  He promised that the certificate would be sent and I was grateful to received it three weeks later.  Out of the blues, on 24th May, a representative from a solar heating company, 太阳雨, turned up intending to install 10 sets of Solar Heater worth RMB100 thousand and asked me to itemize teaching materials such as computers, projectors, public address system, cupboards, tables, desk and chairs etc worth RMB100 thousand so that they could buy them for me.  So the RMB200 thousand promised seemed collectable but their proposal of how I should spend the money was not according to real needs. 

I was advised to accept their offer since everything was “free” but I decided not to accept the award money unless it is properly used according to real and felt needs.  Anyway, the roof of LSSC can only support 6 Solar Heaters. Thank God, much to everyone surprise, the company executive who arrived on 28th May to record the “handing over ceremony” agreed to our request that I be given the freedom to use the money for the benefit of LSSC as I see fit.  We had to wait until 6th August before the full amount RMB200 thousand was finally deposited directly into our bank account.  I was then able to pay the roofing contractor and the local solar heater agent.  So, now LSSC has a “cat and rat proof” new roof, 6 Solar Heaters for the bathrooms and a bit of cash left over to do some urgently needed interior renovation works.   

Last summer, we took in more than 800 students, about half were our regular weekend students, the rest were new students from Dabu-Huliao and those from outstation.  We had a hard time organizing the classes and even small group tutoring was difficult.  Furthermore there were too many local new students who were not interested in studying but were sent by their parents in the hope that they will “learn a bit of English instead of wasting their time during the summer holidays”.  So this summer, we only registered local students who were attending regular weekend classes and the rest were from outstation especially relatives of villagers who were also staying in the village throughout the programme.  Many Changjiao families ended up hosting relatives and “long-lost” relatives!  We managed to keep the numbers to a little over 500 students including out of state students from Hunan, Jiangxi and as far as Lingxia who turned up unannounced. 

This year, the volunteers were more varied.   Three are my friends from Malaysia, known to students here as Aunty Rose, Aunty LV and Uncle Mark.  There were nine students from La Salle College HK and two from St. Joseph’s College HK.  Three are local English teachers, one teaching in Jiayin University, one at a Senior High School and one at a Junior High School, they are Ms Phoeby, Ms Sanmoi and Ms Lidan.  As usual, the local student volunteers were a mixed group of Primary, Junior High School, Senior High School and University students, all of whom had been students of LSSC for some years and they formed the backbone of our tutoring teams.  I must congratulate and thank Ms Lucy Liao, my stay-in assistant, for effectively and efficiently organizing and managing the whole programe.  Our regular summer kitchen staff of 5 did a good job of feeding about 70 volunteers.  I only had to concentrate on the teaching and learning processes for three weeks.   

LSSC is well known because of our unique PinPhonics approach to reading, listening and speaking English skills, based on the Pinyin method of reading Chinese.  The fact that many of our student have done very well in English at Public Examinations is testimony to the effectiveness of our PinPhonics Method of Reading English for Students in China.  This year we experimented with the use of a catchy song that I composed whose lyrics are very flexible and can be sung easily to teach basic sentences, questions and answers.  It caught on from the first day, and students could be heard using it to tease one another as in the singing of the traditional Hakka Mountain Songs.    

Incidentally, it was while experimenting with the song and lyrics that I discovered how to teach the verb “do” to students who study Chinese from birth.  I had been struggling with this for many years and now it looks like I can logically explain the use of the verb “do”.  It was a great moment of inspiration, “an aha! awakening” that words cannot describe.  For those who speak Chinese will know that Chinese speakers tend to say “What you do?” instead of “What do you do?”, “Where you went?” instead of “Where did you go?” and “I no go.  You no go?” instead of “I did not go.  You did not go?” 

Thank God, everything went of smoothly and safely. The sound of ukuleles and singing permeated the whole learning atmosphere.  For students and volunteer tutors alike, it was a memorable and beneficial experience all round.  I want to record our appreciation to three families in Baijiang who allowed us the full use of their houses for accommodation and teaching purposes throughout the summer. 

Another special event this year was that we accepted an invitation to teach in the village of Pingyuan which is about 30 km away from Dabu.  Six of us went to teach for 4 days at a study camp organized by a local young man who studied in Beijing and is now holding a good job in the city of Meixian.  It was a good experience for us and maybe next summer we can consider sending teams of volunteers to rural villagers to run English learning camps for them but they have to organize the logistics necessary for such an outreach service.   

I end with a little unique experience on a recent visit to my mother’s ancestral home at Dama about 36 km from Dabu.   My nephew there, after showing us around, took us to a local “eating shop” which is also a butcher’s shop and a sundry shop as well, run by a husband and wife with the help of an old lady, the mother-in-law of the man.  I was amazed when my nephew and two other customers helped cut the meat, washed the vegetables and did the cooking themselves with the shopkeeper joining in now and then when he was not attending to customers buying pork or sundries.  Apparently, a number of senior citizens in Dama patronize the place regularly as if it is their own “kitchen and dinning room”.  Oh yes, we brewed our own pot of tea after the meal … all on the house! 

We completed registration of students for the 2014-2014 academic year on 14th and 14th September and weekend tuition classes resumed from 20th September.  Thank God, all is well and on behalf of our students, their parents and the villagers of Changjiao, especially of Baijing sector, I thank each and everyone for your moral, financial and spiritual support all these years.


Take care and God bless.  As always with love in the service of youth and nation,


Changjiao 30th Sept 2014




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