"Peng Xiao Jian, you should build an international school. Don't stay in Yu Tim any more. Found one like this." "This is not my destiny. I may participate in such a project if God wishes, but I know this is not my |ming ding|. I am guided by the Holy Spirit to help the weak and the poor."
Reading is their core curriculum of Garden International School. 2 April is the birthday of the great children's literature writer- Anderson, and so on this Children's Reading Day-the school kicked off a parent-children reading program on this afternoon. I was invited by Cecilia to join this event, to be her helper during the story telling. Cecilia had been children's learning resources designer for Houghton Mifflin in the States for more than 15 years. Together we had a shared vision that we have to promote Life Reading to children, parents and teachers in China. Life Education through reading.
Therefore, I accepted the invitation and brought along two kindergarten heads - Deng xiao chang, Li xiao chang, to join Cecilia's story telling session.
Garden is a new school, less than 2 years of age. It has more than 100 students already and tuition fees per month is 8500 yuan.
Hua Zai drove us for more than 200 km from Yu Tim at Huang Jiang to Garden International School at Pan Yu Cambridgeshire.
This was the first time I came to Pan Yu, a county to the south-west of Guangzhou. It was about one hour after crossing Hu Meng Bridge when we arrived at Pan Yu.
WE found the place very rural, with a few narrow streets forming the two centre near the private housing blocks of Cambridgeshire. A few high-rise blocks were under construction and a cluster of houses formed a complex.
We went round the main road near the main entrance and then we came to Garden at the other end of the main road, opposite the unfinished high rise blocks.
The campus was typical of an international school, with adequate space for outdoor activities, and high standard safe facilities, and equipment. The building comprises three blocks with a small 'hill' at the other end, a piece of farm land with rows of corns grown. To the left is a 'swimming' pool for puddling and swimming in the summer, a short running track with five lanes, and a platform for shows and activities.
Cecilia came alone, carrying all her English books from Hong Kong to this place. Hua Zai passed my short-distance projector - a new Panasonic which worths 8000 yuan to Cecilia. The school assigned a technician to help with the set up of the projector. For more than 40 minutes, we could not see the proper computer image on the screen. There was less than 10 minutes before the set time for the story telling. I prayed to Lord. And then it worked! "God was amazing!" We said.
The story telling lasted 45 minutes - an extremely long session for 2-4 year-old kids. Four stories were told: Gruffly, Tacky, Perita, and Easter Story. It was obvious that children were much more attentive when Cecilia told the stories in Putonghua. Teachers, expatriates, demonstrated professionalism, guiding kids to sing, and respond to the stories.
Cecilia pitched her voice to create the mood of the stories. She put on a hat to attract the children, and used a number of teaching aides to make the story comprehensible to the children- stuffed toys, muppets, picture drawing. Towards the last two stories, she invited children to act the penguins in Tacky, and interacted with children with the big book she used.
"Cecilia is a very good story teller. What makes her exceptional in China is that she is bilingual. She can speak excellent English and Putonghua."
Hu Meng Da QiaoHua Zai and Principal Deng told me that under the bridge were the sites where Lin Tze Xu fought the British invaders in 1839 during the Opium War.
"Yes. Dongguan was the first China city I came to other than my own hometown. It was 1973 when I joined a group of Chinese University students and visited this place. We came to learn about Chinese history with a group of patriotic university students. There was no bridge in those days."