Posted by Grace Feng on October 29, 2014
This article is recommended by Keats School in Kunming. It’s written by Bridie Allen, who is studying Chinese in Kunming and volunteering at a local educational centre.
Biography of the author:
Bridie Allen, now studying at Keats School, a Chinese language school in Kunming, would like to share her experience of volunteering at an autism centre for children when she is learning Chinese in China.
Last Monday I began my volunteer placement at Kunming’s “More For Baby” Autism Centre (蒙多贝), as part of my 3-week language course at Keats. Every day after my morning Chinese classes, I weave my bike through the streets of Kunming, arriving just in time to help my class with their daily music, exercise, homework and language lessons.
Volunteering has been a great supplement to my morning classes when I learn Chinese in China, as it is a fun way to practice things that I have learnt. Furthermore, it has given me great insight and experience in working with younger children with mental disabilities. Most of all, I love spending time with adorable kids who simply can’t understand why I have freckles (I should wash them off, apparently) and interrupt the teacher at various intervals just to tell her she is a 美女 (a beautiful girl!). The children I am working with are 4-6 years old. My favourite class is their homework class, because I get to help them one-on-one. Some days it’s encouraging them to pick up marbles with chopsticks, and others it’s teaching them how to write Chinese characters, something that I’m sure their parents are a lot stricter about than I am!
Last weekend I also had the opportunity to participate in the team building weekend for all the teachers at the centre. We spent two days at a beautiful hostel in the mountains of Kunming, playing badminton and picking fresh pears from the tree in our spare time. My job was to take photos of all the activities so More For Baby can publish them on their website and put them up around the school. On the second day, I also participated in the activities, and found myself falling backwards off a table into the linked arms of the other teachers, as a trust exercise! We also did other trust-related actives, performances and things to improve co-operation and teamwork. We also had a lovely barbecue on the final night, complete with 白酒 (the strong Chinese spirit) and all sorts of interesting things to eat (chicken feet, pig skin and chicken stomach included, of course!). The team building weekend was also another great way for me to practice Chinese and get to know the other teachers, who were very welcoming and also spoke to me slowly so I could understand!
I only have four more days at Keats School, and I will really miss helping out at More For Baby. It’s great to see such a well-equipped and supportive environment for the children, and I am thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of it.
Category: Chinese culture and history
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