How can I thank you
When I walk to you
I want to harvest a spring breeze
You gave my all spring
In July this year, DENER Children Foundation hosted an activity which included stationery distribution and teaching in the Sichuan Province. I am honored to be a part of the volunteer team to participate in this meaningful event. After coming back to Taiwan, the memory of Ganzi still lingered in my mind, and couldn’t disperse for a long time.
Two months ago, we invited a super senior teacher, Wu Puyi who came from Nantou, Taiwan, to come train us. With the help of teacher Wu, we learned many precious teaching “secrets”. And after some discussion, we decided to set this teaching activity as multi-learning event, by using different teaching strategies to inspire children to read.
On the evening of July 19th, our volunteers arrived in Chengdu from Shanghai and Taiwan. Next morning about 6:30, we drove to Ganzi immediately. The volunteers were divided into two teams; maybe because the journey is too far, the driver of our car kept on driving and didn’t stop for lunch until Lu Huo. And it’s was 4 o’clock in the afternoon! Finishing lunch, we kept driving on and finally arrived at Ganzi in the evening. Taiwan is 394 kilometers from south to north, but from Chengdu to Ganzi is more than 700 kilometers. It was a very special experience for me living in little Taiwan!
On the first day of the activity, volunteers explained the reason for hosting this reading event to the parents whom accompanied the kids. And on the other side, we found that some children were restless, so our volunteers started to teach them paper folding. Some boys immediately folded planes and played together. After a while, almost all the students came around us to learn how to fold “birds” and “cranes”. Surprisingly, a little boy named “Jie Yang” turned his head and said to me, “Sister, Would you teach me how to fold paper? ” I was amazed and asked incredibly, “You called me sister!?” The teacher next to me laughed and said ”Yeah!” and Jie Yang nodded. I was shocked again, “Is Ganzi’s children all so naive? I’m probably older than his mother!” But I felt very warm inside with his comments!
I noticed that children all love folding paper. Some people may think that folding paper is an activity for young children, but actually it’s not. Folding paper can train hand-eye use, space concepts, and keeps the kids focused. In addition, it also allowed students to learn how to interact with others, discuss and solve problems. Benefits are really many.
For this reading event, we selected “Seven Little Rats Going to the Beach”, “Seven Little Rats Going to School”, “Seven Little Rats Digging Sweet Potato” as teaching material. They are by Kazuo Iwamura, a Japanese book author. Kazuo Iwamura is good at portraying delicate family emotions with delicate pictures. His picture books were very suitable for teaching. Beside the language learning functions, the emotions and deep meaning shown on the pictures are easy to attract students’ attention. The strategy of the reading book is to allow students to read pictures directly then let them experience and guess the picture by observation, intuition, or imagination. This also increases their creative thinking. In order to make the picture book integrated into daily life, we also taught them simple swimming ring production method.
We designed three kinds of hand-made books to enhance our teaching activities. These allow students to use their hands, mind, as well as learning to share with each other. We also arrange board games, also known as non-plug-in games, it focued on a variety of ways of thinking, language expression, and emotional training. The well-received response of students from playing board game was the most direct. Even some kids asked if they could play it again. After all, entertaining was still the best teaching strategy.
During the days of teaching activities, whether it was Andersen’s fairy tales, picture books, hand-made books, or board games, the students all showed a high degree of interest and concentration. At the final closing of our event, teacher Yi-Ting shared her wish card, hope that she could return to Ganzi with volunteer teachers next year. In fact, one week before our departure, teacher Yi-Ting had an accident and stitched a few stitches on her feet, but she still insisted on coming to Ganzi with injuries. Hence, when she was sharing her feelings, tears ran down her face! At the end of activities, all children were reluctant to go and took the initiative to hug the teachers. I truly think the children have given us full of love, just like the spring.