China Team Journal

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday August 3, 2010

Thought for the day: A human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind” - William James.

Before I get to talk about the adventures we had today, I would like to talk about yesterday a little bit. Yesterday was my birthday. Because I did not think that our team would celebrate a birthday of someone whom they have just met, I did not expect anything. However, Baoli surprised me by appearing with a card, a cake and a mysterious looking plastic flower bulb. As soon as she lighted the middle of the flower bulb, the flower opened up with the tune of “Happy Birthday”. It was a really pleasant surprise. As soon as I got home, I called my family and friends that I had the most special birthday.

Today was the first day of regular classes. So we went off to school and went into our own classes. At first, I was afraid that the teachers would not respect me as their teacher because I am much younger than them and because I am of Asian descent. However, they gave me a warm welcome as soon as I entered the classroom. Although they were puzzled that I am both Korean and American, they accepted me as their teacher, either way.

For the first portion of the class, I taught them different idioms, such as, “music to my ear”. They struggled a little bit understanding why Americans would use such a phrase, but as soon as they understood it, they incorporated the idiom into their language. Also, we talked about Halloween. Using a power point that I made the night before to explain it helped them focus. They liked the idea of free candy. Some other things we did together are interviewing each other, singing an American song, interpreting poems, and playing games. Because education in China is focused on doing well on the exams, they were not used to being creative and having fun. So, during a break, a student came up and told me that he most liked interpreting poems because a poem can be interpreted in so many different ways.

After the class was over, we went to the hotel for lunch, and headed back to the school for two more hours of lecture. As Americans, we could not help but feel bad for the students who have to sit in classes and lectures all day long during their summer vacations. Anyways, Baoli took over the first hour talking about Global Volunteers organization. She explained the history of the organization, the philosophy, and why we do it. She also introduced the concept of helping others, because Chinese who come from rural areas have a hard time understanding why people would spend their own money and time to help others. Then, the rest of the team went up to talk about their experiences with volunteering.

At the end of the lecture, Baoli collected the questions from the people who were too shy to ask questions in front of a crowd. The questions mainly had to do with how they could volunteer without having much money. We had to explain over and over again that we do not need to have a lot of money to be able to help others. A helping hand is all we need to have. There is the thought of the day. “A human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind” by William James. We hope that by having shared our experiences with volunteering, the teachers would change their attitudes and pay it forward.

- Grace