A group of 24 people from Church of All Nations and Hong Kong International School visited the Jiangmen area, Guangdong Province, China December 17-19. Day 1 of the trip was dedicated to visiting girls supported by a joint CAN/HKIS scholarship program, while Day 2 involved visiting a local church. The diverse group of participants included CAN members, HKIS students, and Lutheran Theological Seminary students.
Scholarship Winners Speak Out About the Environment
On Saturday, we visited the beautiful campus of the Heshan #1 Secondary School. We met with 29 female scholarship winners, all of whom are very bright and hard-working since they gained a seat at this prestigious school, the best in the area.
In contrast to previous visits in which the two groups had informal sharing, this time the principal requested that we prepare an issue-based lesson in which the girls practiced their English skills. So, our group of adults and students led the scholarship winners through a 3-hour lesson plan in which they learned about global environmental issues, practiced new vocabulary, had discussions, and then wrote and delivered a speech about their topic. We hope to follow this model with a new topic of interest on our next trip.
One of the HKIS students who most enjoyed the trip was Tracy Tang (2nd from the right below), senior at HKIS. Tracy, who is supporting this scholarship program as her Senior Project this year, recently held a “yogathon” and raised more than $14,000 HK ($1800 US), enough to provide 5 of the girls with a full year of education.
A Home Visit
In the afternoon, we visited the girls’ homes in the countryside to meet their families and to understand more about the challenges they face. Zella, Micah, and I were taken to the home of a girl who had the disposition of a young professor, and we weren’t surprised when she said that her favorite subject was physics. After a twenty-minute ride, we walked through a small village along a narrow path to the family home. As we entered, we interrupted the mother and her 12 year-old daughter who were sewing and folding white sleeves for shoes that would later be put into shoeboxes for sale. Selling these sleeves to shoe companies supplemented the family income. The father, we learned, earned a small salary as some kind of builder or construction worker, while the mother stayed at home taking care of her father-in-law and the family’s three children. Sadly, the 11 year-old son was born deaf and has a heart condition, which has been a large financial burden for the family. We were struck by the fact that the boy, while three years older than Micah, was several inches shorter. Having visited the Foshan orphanage many times, we respected the family’s decision to keep their son, despite the financial toll this must have taken on the family. Following our conversation, Mrs. Fung took us out to their vegetable patch and insisted that we take with us a homegrown papaya, which Zella cooked into a tasty soup back in Hong Kong.
Overall, the trip was a great success! Students provided useful tutoring to the scholarship students, and gained some insight into the lives of the girls whom we are sponsoring. The seminarians all told me how much the enjoyed their unforgettable trip to China.
A Word of Gratitude
Many thanks go to Iantha Scheiwe, the director of CWEF, and her Guangdong manager, Dolphin Liu, for arranging the many details of the trip. I also want to say a word of appreciation to John Plagens, ESOL professor at Japan Lutheran College, who created Saturday’s well-organized and highly effective lesson plan. The Jim Handrich Service Endowment Fund should also be recognized for provided funding to allow two of the Heshan girls to visit the yogathon several weeks ago. Finally, we continue to be grateful to CAN and HKIS for their generous support of the girls as well as for the sponsorship of the seminarians.