La Salle Study Centre Changjiao

March 2016 Newsletter







La Salle Study Centre – 1st Quarter Report 2016


Easter Greetings of Faith, Hope and Charity from LSSC Changjiao.  Peace and Joy is within you.


I was in Hongkong to observe Holy week and celebrated Easter at St Joseph’s Community with Brother Alphonsus and Thomas.  It is always a relaxing and revitalizing time to be back in community.  Well, time moves on relentlessly and so two days ago, I left Hongkong and now I am back in LSSC Changjiao.  Oh yes, for those who are in Hongkong, I have good news to share.  You can now easily visit us at LSSC for since 20th Dec 2015, there is now a direct express bus service from Prince Edward station to Dabu town where I am.  The bus leaves Hongkong at 12.50 p.m. and arrives here at about 7.30 p.m.  As for the price of ticket, well, it depends on the season.  When I first came back in January it was HK$140, then it was RMB160 when I returned to Hongkong for Easter and when I came back 2 days ago, it was HK$190 because it is Qingming season (Chinese All Souls Day).


This report takes us back to early Jan 2016.  I had a full medical checkup at the Fatimah Hospital in Ipoh in early January as I felt that I was getting tired too easily throughout 2015 as I keep working and teaching at more or less the same pace as in years pass.  Ah, what to do, as age catches up, the physical efficiency goes down.  I had all the problems related to ageing … high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and beginnings of prostate … and so I was put on two months of medication.  On returning to LSSC Changjiao on 22nd January, because I do not want to be pills dependant, I decided on a drastic habit change and went on a strict diet with daily sweaty exercises.  Thank God it worked.  I am now down from 164 lbs to 148 lb and have been off medication for more than 2 weeks.  I feel much healthier now.  I am living what I preach …the 3A’s of ageing …1st A - acceptance of the fact that age has finally caught up (a spiritual process); 2nd A – adjustment to different ways of doing things (a physical process); 3rd A – adaption to a different lifestyle (a emotional process).


It is interesting that I am also seeing a big change in eating and drinking habits of the villagers where I am living in Baijiang in Changjiao.  In the past, excessive eating and drinking was very common on festive occasions because there was not much to eat or drink on ordinary days.  Now, daily there is always enough food on the table and so this basic need is no longer a real and felt need.  The other reason I feel is because the once looked up to great drinkers of this village are all having health problems and so the younger ones who are looking forward to a longer lifespan, because now they are having a better life than their seniors, have become more health conscious.


When I came back to LSSC Changjiao I was thankful that my nephew’s wife had done a good job of keeping the physical environment in and around LSSC in tip top condition.  Those of you who have been following story will know that my assistant Lucy has left LSSC to begin her career in Guangzhou and LSSC had been closed while I was home in Malaysia.  Thank God, the 5 well trained junior high school girls, who have been assisting Lucy, promptly turned up on 25th January and we were ready to start our Winter Programme.  As usual, many out station students came back to attend the programme but because of the unusual end of the first term schedule for different schools, some local students were able to join us only half way through our programme.  Thankfully, we had had a smooth and incident free Winter Programme from 27th January to 3rd February and then it was time to prepare for the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). 


Unlike previous years, I began my rounds of lunches and dinners with villagers 3 days before the start of the Spring Festival as some villagers who were late in “making their bookings” decided to share a meal with me the day their daughter or son was back home.  So, I was out for lunch and dinner every day in the village for 18 days, eating a total of 36 meals of more or less the same food!  As I mentioned earlier, I was very careful with what I ate and drank since I had my medical check-up.  I tasted every dish but ate very little.  I refused to drink any local rice wine which is very sweet, did not drink at any liquor during lunches and only accepted a peck of brandy at dinners.  To keep healthy, I spent all my free time up in the hill, clearing up the land to get it ready for landscaping and the development of camp sites as I prepare to embark on the next stage of my work here which is to run personal development and leadership training camps.  These courses will be conducted in English and conducted in camping lifestyle.  I am sure many of you are experienced outdoor experts.  Please come over to help me get this going.


I have been the main supporter of our village primary school and kindergarten for many years and have been involved in community activities and community development projects.  It is time to pass on the baton to a local and thank God the person I have been eyeing is now willing to take over my major responsibilities.  The three activities I hope will be off my shoulders by September 2016 are as follows:  1. Funding of the primary school and kindergarten and presence at all school functions inChangjiao.  2. Hosting all village social activities at Baijiang sector.  3. Paying for and maintenance of village lights in Baijiang sector. 


The symbol of leadership in this village is where the drumming starts and ends during festivities and it had been at LSSC since I began working here.  So, this year, for our Spring festivities, we shifted venue to the house of this gentleman and he was absolutely delighted but he also insisted that I be beside him at all future functions.  We have had a long talk privately and he feels he can now be more involved in Baijiang’s activities as he has scaled down his business activities in the city of Meixian and is able to come back whenever needed. 


My teaching mission here has reached a sort of watershed and I feel my years of experimenting on how to teach English in an environment where English is not spoken and where teachers of English in the local schools are only concerned with enabling their students to pass written exams and not become speakers of English – in fact most local English teachers cannot hold a conversation in English – is more or less complete and our Pinphonics Approach to learning English for students in China ready for publication.  Thanks to the untiring effort of Mr Wang Chee Seng of Penang, we have also developed a self learning programme and he has written the software that can be downloaded on android hand-phones and on Windows based computers.  After this summer’s programme, I hope to embark on several trial outreach projects to poor remote villages.  Please keep us in your prayers.


Some of you will remember that in my 1st Q report of March 2013, I mentioned that the government of Meizhou had given our Catholic Church a choice piece of land in Meixian (11,591 square meters) to build a Cathedral and Diocesan Centre (Bishop’s Residence and Office, Convent, Hospitality and Training facilities).  I am glad to announce that Cathedral is completed and most of the construction works are at ending stages.  I am also proud to say that I was able to ask a Hong Kong Lasallian to donate a beautiful Grand piano for the Cathedral.


With this piece of good news I end this 1st Q report here.  I thank all of you for encouraging and supporting me on this interesting and fulfilling adventure here at LSSC Changjiao.  Please feel free to join me.


As always with love in the service of youth and nation through DLS,


LSSC Chanjiao
31st March 2016



All good things must come to an end... that better things may begin!!!
Fraser's Hill -1976 - BDLiao