When we told people that we were moving to China, we heard more than a few jokes/off-handed comments about adopting a cute little Asian baby. After a lengthy Twilight discussion with G&B, we even joked about naming the baby girl, Bella. Well, in our time here, I’ve encountered so many little ones that I could bring home. Oh my goodness, they are cute! And my volunteer work at the Shenyang International School and Barbara’s Classroom has increased my opportunities to bond with awesome little ones.
Last fall, I connected with people at Shenyang International School to do some volunteer work. As fate would have it, I was placed with the Chinese kindergarten class. I started going once a week in October and met six beautiful, smart, amazing kids. The numbers expanded and I experienced their physical and intellectual growth through the end of the school year. Luis, one of my favorites, went from squeaking out 2 or 3 English words in the fall, to asking full questions and making jokes. Christina, an amazing Chinese/Danish girl, absorbed everything I said, even when I didn’t realize it. While others were trying to grasp the difference between “I am from America” and “I am from China”, she raised her hand and said, “Miss Julie, I am from Denmark.” Well, yes you are. (She is the blonde one in the pictures. Her primary language is Chinese thanks to her native mother.) Now many of those children are moving on to the first grade and I hope I can continue to know them, teach them and learn from them.
A friend from the Shenyang International Club heard about my volunteer work at the school and asked me to do some work at her teaching center, Barbara’s Classroom. I started by doing a craft class for 4-5 year olds every other Saturday afternoon, then I also helped out with their summer program. Barbara said Chinese children do not get a craft experience in school, and she felt the kids and parents would find it interesting. The first day, when I announced that we were going to make rabbit ears (see photos), the kids cheered. Wow, how do you top that? The children at the Classroom have varying levels of English, and they learn every day. I am inspired.
I have always loved working with children and China is no exception. But, before you ask, no, there won’t be a Bella in our house anytime soon.