Today we visited a local primary school next to Heishan Village where most of the kids from the village attended. It was a two-minute walk as the school was next to the village and we instantly noticed that it was very small. A few minutes later, a school bell rang and small, crazy, energetic kids came running down the stairs from the second floor of the building. They mostly played around a flagpole -running and spinning around it and some just sat on the edges of the base of the pole- staring at us. They were all so cute! The principal came to greet us and we introduced ourselves to him. The principal said that there were 33 children in the whole school and it only was from year 1 to year 3. The school bell rang again and we followed the year 3 students to their class. We took some chairs from another classroom and set them up in the year 3 students’ classroom. We were all curious to see what the class would be like. The class was small and each student has a small desk with a glossy wooden desk. The principal came in and began teaching English. The children had only 5 English lessons before we came and they were learning from a textbook and a tv. We were all surprised that they had a tv to learn from because it was very advanced and could connect to the netbooks. We didn’t think they would have technology like that. The teacher instructed the students to repeat greetings from the tv two times each and everyone one of them was so enthusiastic to learn. Every time a student got called to say something in English, and they did it correctly, we would all clap and it felt like a positive and warm environment (also from the heat!). We then left the room while they practised writing alphabet letters. We followed the principal to another room where we asked questions about the school and students. We learnt that he had been working there for 30 years, and he wasn’t really an English teacher but only picked some English along the way. School usually started from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm and go back home for lunch then come back again at 2:00 pm. School finishes at 5:00 pm. Afterwards, all of us were separated into two groups: Safana, Sadhana, Mia and I and then James, Riley, Dakota and Isabella. We played games with them and it was really enjoyable. The children were really funny because if someone wasn’t listening, the child in front would just smack their head. “There was one crazy kid that did not stop moving and was annoying this other kid so he just slapped him across the face”- Isabella. This was what we saw and it was really funny but we tried not to laugh. We played games with them like getting two kids trying to stand up while sitting on the ground, legs straight out and arms linked, introduction and beat repetition games, dancing the Macarena and attempts to play squiggle. The language barrier was really evident but we were glad that we could use universal hand gestures such as ‘shooshing’ the kids, lowering our hands to get them to sit down and then putting our hands to get them to stop what they are doing. The experience with the children made us reflect on our daily lives and how we complain about school. ‘When are we ever going to need algebra again?’ Phrases like this we might say, but for these children, they were happy to learn and they don’t get many opportunities other than a school with a population of 33, no playground, and a teacher who can teach limited English.
After the primary school visit, we had lunch back at the community centre in the village and headed to a farm where we would make some Yao handicrafts. The place was a little messy and had cute stray dogs, even a pig. We met a lady who showed us around the farm and went to a building where their handicrafts were made. The handicrafts that we made were a hammer for our sore spots on the body and a small decoration that we can hang. The insides were made with Chinese medicinal seeds that smelt really nice. We’re all a little disappointed that we might not be able to bring them back to Australia because of the seeds but we’ll see.
Today has been a really great day that made us reflect on our daily lives and had fun with crafts as well!
From Tanya 🙂