Visiting the Foshan Orphanage: Considering the Human Condition in Humanities I in Action

Every year the Humanities I in Action classes visit the Foshan orphanage as a vital experiential dimension of our curriculum.  Four classes will visit the orphanage during two different weekends in November. For many students, the Foshan trip is the highlight of the course. 

During the first semester our in-class study considers the struggles of the human condition through our novel Lord of the Flies, various psychological and sociological experiments, and the study of genocide.  However, as we all know, that’s only part of the picture.  Taking the students to an orphanage for a weekend, combined with curricular examples of people making a difference that we draw upon all year, helps students find that there is something very right, too, with human nature.  Every year students respond so positively to the plight of children in the orphanage.  These powerful impressions are brought to bear on our academic work, and students return to the classroom to write personal narratives of their experience.  The Foshan trip becomes an important “text” to add to our intensive in-class work.   Our study culminates at the end of the first semester with an essay answering the question how the class materials and experiences in this class have affected, deepened and/or challenged students’ worldview.

I have asked students in my class this semester to respond to the following question: What role has the Foshan trip played in your learning during the first semester in Humanities I in Action? Their responses are recorded below.

To read one of the best narrative essays written about Foshan, click here for Nikki’s piece.

You can read about other blog entries about the Foshan experience – click on the following links for the 2013 trip, 2011 trip, and the 2010 trip as well as a student reflection from 2012 about the Foshan trip in 2003.

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About martinschmidtinasia

I have served as a humanities teacher at Hong Kong International School since 1990, teaching history, English, and religion courses. Since the mid-1990's I have also come to assume responsibility for many of the school's service learning initiatives. My position also included human care ministry with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Hong Kong, southern China, and others parts of Asia from 1999-2014. Bringing my affluent students into contact with people served by the LCMS in Asia has proved to be beneficial to students and our community partners alike. Through these experience I have become committed to social conscience education, which gives students the opportunity to find their place in society in the context of challenging global realities.
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15 Responses to Visiting the Foshan Orphanage: Considering the Human Condition in Humanities I in Action

  1. Marissa says:

    What role has the Foshan trip played in your learning during the first semester in Humanities I in Action?

    Foshan has taught me the outside world compared to HKIS and has opened me to compassion. Before Foshan or even in this course I have done service work but I haven’t really reflected and did service just because I wanted to finish the task they asked me to do – 6th to 7th grade compassion project. I think that Foshan has helped me with compassion and the debriefing and reflecting of the trip really helped me think about what is out there and my life isn’t so bad after all. This time Foshan has really helped me believe in compassion compared to others.

  2. Jason Poon says:

    The Foshan trip is very memorable, during this experience, I have learned a lot. This trip has impacted my first semester because it has deepened my understanding on human nature. I now realize that a huge part of our world ends up where they are due to luck. Including, us Hong Kong students who were fortunately placed into upper class families. However, there are the unfortunate, orphans have done nothing wrong and now they are stuck in orphanages and will be scarred with the remembrance of living without a family. Orphans are normal human beings just like us, some may have slight problems, but “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

  3. Lilly Quinlan says:

    The Foshan trip, has been an amazing experience. It is something I will never forget, it has majorly raised my awareness and has changed the way I look at things in my own life. I made a very strong bond with one of the children, a bond in which I will neve forget. We learn about things in class, and it means a lot, which does have an impact on me but actually going out and physically doing something is unforgettable. Even though it was something very simple, it seems to relate to a lot that we have learned this semester. If there was another opportunity for me to go back up to the orphanage, I would go without second guessing myself. Foshan has impacted me a lot, and has changed many things about me. I will never forget this amazing experience.

  4. Jacqueline says:

    What role has the Foshan trip played in your learning during the first semester in Humanities I in Action?

    Foshan played a pretty big role when I got home after the trip because I starting thinking about how I could help kids who get into those situations, how I could make a difference. The situations in which they have poor care or the situation where they dont get to have a say as to what happens in their life. To me, this doesn’t seem fair. However, I know that by going to the orphanage we already helped those babies out by giving them love and affection. The next step after taking action is making people aware, so I want to make more people aware about why this happens and what the orphanage is like for them.Therefore, by going to Foshan has impacted my service personality to help make me feel that I can make a difference and help these kids.

  5. Alex says:

    To me Foshan was more of a way to socialize rather than the kind of memorable trip as people have explained in the past. I find it strange how eye opening this trip was to some people but to me it didn’t mean much. I guess it’s because I didn’t see the orphan’s situation as a serious problem. What is a serious problem are the ones out there. Some far away where I can not reach but some are even just outside my window. There are refugee’s living someplace, somewhere, worrying about their next meal while the orphans get 3 everyday. I guess this is why I didn’t feel a big connection with the children, they weren’t in a serious situation.

  6. Ava says:

    What role has the Foshan trip played in your learning during the first semester in Humanities I in Action?

    Compassion is an import emotion that connects you with everything around you. I have no direct connection with the Foshan orphan children besides my trip with my humanities class. But with compassion I have feel a bond between Hui Hui. She was a baby I was taking care of. I only knew her for three days, three days that she will not remember as she grows up, but I will always remember. I went out of my comfort zone and took care of infant orphan children. I have never been in a situation where I truly loved doing the experience. I dedicate this to the new sense of compassion I felt and still feel towards the children. I feel more open to helping because I feel like I have more bonds with the suffering and I feel more obligated to help other kids like Hui Hui.

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  10. Apple says:

    I am really interested in volunteering in visiting and bring joy to the foshan children. How can I volunteer?

  11. Tim Sumerlin says:

    I was wondering if I could also get information about volunteering in Foshan? I live in Chancheng, and have a group of friends who along with me are interested in any volunteering opportunities.

    • Hi Tim, Thanks for your interest! We always need to get permission for all our visits from the Chinese government, which is at least partially dependent on our long-term relationship with the orphanage. Maybe you would join us sometime and see what you think. I also am not sure where Chancheng is. We can continue this on emai: mschmidt@hkis.edu.hk

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