Some things I realized last week:
I know more Chinese than I think I do
I am more capable of teaching music than I think I am
I could do neither of these things without the grace and strength that comes from outside of me
Kids really love the Chicken Dance
Some kids I’ll remember from last week:
Carmen who played her little melodica with intense focus and who can be a little sassy
Lucas who makes the best facial expressions to the Happy Song
Katie and Jessica who tried to teach me a Chinese poem
Amanda and Tiffany (Maria) who have come to camp for several years now, and
who’ve grown so much since we first met them
Some foods I ate last week:
Dumplings (all kinds of ‘em)
Meat on a stick
Boiled eggs for breakfast
THE BEST CRAWFISH EVER
“I lived in the countryside when I was your age and my hometown was much poorer than what you have here in Mudu,” Monkey King said with a strong and compassionate voice. I invited Monkey King to tell his story to the 105 students attending our English summer camp; a tale of hardship, dreams, and hard work. He was a beacon of respect and honor for our camp. A Ph.D. student from Tsinghua University, he is a crème de crème of China; part of an extremely select group from among 1.3 billion people. We met him when he attended BU for one year and came often to 18th & Bosque for singing and study.
“Many of you are extremely intelligent and are definitely capable of attaining a Tsinghua slot when your time comes.” Monkey King exhorted the students through a stuttering amplification system that cut in and out as the hot morning sun pierced through a mostly clear blue sky (a rarity). He told the students to dream, to work hard, and to maintain healthy bodies for their long journey through life. Most importantly, he gave credit to the one with utmost authority; in a discreet and subtle manner. The usually restless students stood at attention; no one stirred. Teachers and workers at the school who usually ignored whatever is going on in the school yard came out of nowhere and stood to listen. Our camp volunteers were captivated by his story. I was ecstatic, doing somersaults and high fives on the inside; where ninjas process their emotions.
That moment, that message, that experience, what shall we liken it to? Yes, a burning bush! This is Wholly Ground. OMG! How many lives will change, because they came, they heard, and become inspired.
First day count:
105 campers; 12 returnees from last year
1 yellow school bus
21 volunteers – 4 from the U.S., 11 from local universities and schools, 1 from Hong Kong, 5 from Caterpillar
90˚ outside temperature, 85% humidity, unusual cool breeze
4 classes – English, PE, Music, Craft
Amanda was already at the school’s parking lot/playground waiting for camp to start. She anxiously waited for the bus’s door to open for any familiar faces to deboard. Since I was sitting at the front of the bus, I was the first one to see her. I waved, we locked eyes, and a huge smile erupted on her face. I hurried down the steps and gave her a BIG hug! It was a happy reunion. “Amanda, we came back!” I whispered to myself, and I am thankful that I did not succumb to my unbelief that camp would not be able to happen this year.
Amanda has grown a couple of inches since last year, but the smile on her face is still brilliant. She is one of the 115 children we served last year at Mudu English Camp. There was another handful of students who had been at camp last year, but this was Amanda’s third year. Many of the children have moved as their parents seek job opportunities or better living arrangements elsewhere. No matter where the children are, it is our wish that the seed of hope we plant each year will travel with them through life.
– Sea Turtle
It has been raining almost nonstop since we arrived last Friday. It cooled off the stifling summer heat a bit, but made the humidity go through the roof.
Yesterday, we kicked off the English summer camp at the Mudu school with the usual opening ceremony. Students were lined up in the playground by age groups in front on a yellow and white banner proclaiming that the time for another Caterpillar Summer English Camp has come. Children were chattering and their faces beamed with excitement and anticipation. This year, Caterpillar provided free camp T-shirts for the children; providing a splash of bright Caterpillar yellow in an otherwise, dull grayish surrounding. There were the usual short speeches by Mr. Yang and a Caterpillar manager, and Agnes spoke for our team.
A total of 106 children have signed up to spend a week with us at camp. As usual, we only prepared for 100 and expect the numbers to increase as we move through the week. With four Tangs from Waco, one Tang (Dennis’ cousin) from Hong Kong, 8 teaching assistants from local universities, 1 teaching assistant from Beijing, and 50 daily volunteers from local Caterpillar, this is our largest Mudu English Summer Camp team, ever.
After a relatively short day of travel, our small group has made it to China! We reunited with our fourth family member for dinner (Korean BBQ!!), and we’re now becoming reacquainted with our good friend, jet lag. Over the next couple of days, we will meet with local volunteers and finish preparing for English camp, which begins on Monday!