PEACH FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER
August, 2009, issue no. 23
Dear fellow PEACH members,
This the season of fragrant osmamthus and the sweet smell of triumph yet to be delivered. Our Peach students have set another record year: in ¡®09 there were 375 who took the High School Examination with 353 passed onto senior high--- a 94% advancement. 229 took part in the College Entrance Exam with 186 being accepted¡ªa 81% admission. Among those colleges are no less than prominent universities for our sons and daughters such as: Li Caihua admitted by University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Guo zhenghong by Hunan University, and Xu Jinhua byYunnan University.
Whenever I learn that the children can have their wish fulfilled by continuing their education in the school of their choice, I always feel very gratified. I trust that everyone feels the same as me that the paths of our children¡¯s knowledge seeking are not without obstacles. Fortunately, they have your unyielding supports and companionship all these years; only then could they overcome barriers and took pass after pass, squeezed through the narrow doors into junior and senior highs and become successful--all credited to You.
Now, please direct your attention to the following major events for 2010:
The Understanding Tour to be held on 10/24/10 to 10/30/10 in Yuanyang, Yunnan.
2010 Summer Camps ¨C1stsession to be held on 7/06/10 to 7/17/10 inYuanyang, Yunnan; 2nd session to be held on 7/20/10 to 7/29/10 in LiJiang, Yunnan.
(Applications for the above events are accepted now till 1/31/2010)
Next, onto the report since May of 2009:
1. Our Summer Camps were soundly concluded inYanyang, SiChuan and LiJiang, Yunnan respectively. A joint force of 55 young and old volunteers of bi-coastal, tri-regions participated with 492 invited students.
2. A test pilot summer camp at GaoHan Elementary School in YuLong County was also soundly concluded. 12 Peach college students answered the call into the rural Bao Shan Village in YuLong County to spend 10 days with 110 invited local elementary students--for this I am extremely pleased that our college students were so quick to apply for this summer camp.
GaoHan Village, habitat for the Yi Zu ethnic group, locates on the northeastern of YuLong County at 4000 meters above sea level. A high elevation remote hill site, its average annual temperature is 13 ¡ãC; every year from October till April the next year arctic weather prevails. Such difficult climate can only permits the growth of buckwheat and potatoes, which most families consume three meals a day. However, after four to five months when the reserve runs low, many families resort to one meal per day.
Culturally deficient and ideologically lagging, many parents do not understand Mandarin and their children¡¯s dropout rate from school is high. Every street, every corner in the village, one notices teenage girls in small group loitering--they probably have never attended high school. Parents favor their sons, and girls are less likely to go to school, let alone high school after elementary school graduation.
So here in GaoHan Elementary School there are 130 students and 6 teachers, of whom 2 short-term outside volunteers--being reassigned in 2 years--teach slackingly. And then 2 substitute teachers--graduated from junior high--possess minimal experience and cultural sense. As for the remaining 2--normal university graduates--one reaching his golden years, simply awaits his retirement. The teachers in the school are all men, because female teachers can not bear the extreme frigidity and bitterness here. And not one excelled teacher wants to subject himself or herself to these harsh conditions. With barely adequate teaching staffs and home education to backup, the school finds itself yearly at the top of the countdown to excellent schools in the County.
In November of ¡®08 when passing by GaoHan Elementary School to our home visits, we witnessed some children in their worn t-shirts, running noses, faces turned purple from the chilling wind, yet diligently attending class inside this tiny room with low ceiling. Such scene, such impoverished and backward little hillside town that people forget, and the desire to learn as reflected in the children¡¯s eyes; all these are constant flash-back that replays itself in my mind. It constantly reminds me to do something for the children--holding this summer camp is a trial and a fulfillment to my wishes.
Summer camps are the platforms on which the children can have exchanges with the outside world, and on these short few days they have changed a lot. The Peach volunteer teachers themselves are the models of their teaching, and that notion has taken roots in their hearts This period of time will become unforgettable in their lives--for here in the camps they have received love, they have learnt self-esteem, self-confidence and self-regard--it¡¯s the ground zero where the sails to chase dreams were erected.
What touches me the most in holding elementary school summer camps is that our Peach college students have learnt to give: in GaoHan they could not take baths, and because beds are scarce, even small beds were shared by two. Every three days food had to be purchased from Li Jiang and brought back to GaoHan (they lack refrigeration.) Even in such unpleasantly difficult situation, no one complaints, in stead they¡¯re all glad to have such experience. they said all these years hearing me repeat ¡°the joy of giving¡± didn¡¯t register. It was only until they themselves had given, only then they felt the joy. They felt that after their roles had changed from receivers to givers, they became more mature, more satisfied with what installed in their lives, and to life more appreciation.
Hosting elementary school summer camps is a pilot program, and in fact it has proven to be a huge success. The children experienced many firsts in their lives: first teeth-brushing, first college level teacher from outside. As for our Peach college volunteers, a first encounter of the joy of giving. From now on, more programs will be held to promote the betterment of rural children as well as the growth of our Peach college students.
3. After the 5/12/08 Wen Chuan Earthquake, we have been receiving relief donations close to 400 thousand Chinese Yuan. Since 11/08, we have dispersed funds to the following schools in Guangyuan City, Sichuan: Qing Chuan County¡¯s Sanguo High school, Guanzhuang Middle School, Muyu Middle School, and Guanzhuang Elementary School. All told, there were 267 children. The distribution ended on 5/09 when we had exhausted all the donations. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who cares and contributes to this effort.
4. The flood catastrophe brought on by Typhoon Morakot have devastated Taiwan immensely; over night, countless people are without homes. Peach¡¯s Taiwan Chapter is paying close attention in the disaster area and planning to aid the needy children in their education.
5. Peach is going to collaborate with Han Feng, who promised to donate to Peach 10% of the ticket sale purchased by any Peach members. All our members will enjoy a 10% discount when purchasing a ticket. Han Feng will be performing twice this year, and Bay area members please watch them.
Enclosed please find the Han Feng performing pamphlet.
Also the writings by summer camp attendants on thoughts and thanks.
I would like to donate ______ to the medical funds (at an average of US$20 per child.)
I would like to send ______ children to attend Summer Camp (at US$20 each for one week.)
I would like to donate ______ to scarf and mitten funds (at US$5 per child.)
I would like to donate ______ to thermal-pajama funds (at US$5 per child.)
I would like to donate ______ to mosquito net funds (at US$5 per child.)
I would like to donate ______ to the library funds (at US$20 per library)
I would like to donate ______ to the foundation administration funds
I would like to donate _____ to the mini-loan for middle and high school students¡¯ living expenses (amount as you wish.)
I would like to donate ______ to the college loan funds (amount as you wish.)
I would like to donate ______ (laptop computer/ digital camera/ cell phone)
I would like to increase my sponsorship to ___ high school students and ___ middle school students; the yearly costs are US$250 for a high school student, US$125 for a middle school student.
Please make check payable to PEACH FOUNDATION.
Donors in Taiwan please change the amount to New Taiwan Dollars, payable to PEACH FOUNDATION, account no.: 50011068, and it is tax deductible.
1098 Marlin Avenue, Foster City, CA 94404, U.S.A.
Phone£º650-525-1188 fax: 650-525-9688
The Moment in Life
-by Bai (PEACH student attending Yunnan University)
Hardship & Happiness: Teaching at the summer camp in GaoHan Elementary School was a precious experience that I will remember forever. Even now, these cute little faces still come to me at nights, spreading endless laugher and joy in my dreams.
I felt strange upon returning to LiJiang after the summer camp. It almost felt as if I had never been at GaoHan. Maybe this was because I totally forgot about time when I was with those children. During our time together, I secretly hoped that auntie Ruth would extend the summer camp at GaoHan, but the reality was that we had to leave after 10-days. Saying good-bye to these children was heart wrenching¡ just thinking about it brings back so many memories¡
The physical challenges we encountered at GaoHan exceeded our expectations. It was very cold at night, even in our sleeping bags. We tried non-stop at every meal to keep the flies away from our food. There was dust everywhere both indoors and out, and there were no shower facilities¡ However, we built the most sincere friendship with these children: we learned together, we lived together, we played together, and we enjoyed life together. In the short days, we went from total strangers to treasured friends, and we shared warm happiness with our students. I still remember the most beautiful wild flowers the children picked for us, the constant invitations to be their houseguests, the love-notes that they poured their hearts to us. There were a few occasions where children insisted on staying in classes even though they were sick. Can you imagine the warmth and sweetness that filled in our hearts?
The warmth I felt at the GaoHan summer camp made me a firm believer that true happiness comes from friendship, trust, sincerity, and caring, while the happiness from material items are short lived. Yes, I found real happiness in an unthinkably hardship environment.
Growth: Summer camp is a process where we learn and grow together. In the summer camp, these children had an opportunity to learn, to expand their horizon, to stimulate their interests in school, and to develop their passions. It is also a time for these children to build their confidence. Most children were extremely shy when we first met; they wouldn¡¯t speak or even look at us. We had to encourage them constantly to speak up and to share their thoughts with us. During our short time together, we tried to make these children understand the importance of expressing themselves no matter what they have to say. It was amazing to witness the changes in these children with our warm and sincere encouragement. On the last day, during the talent show, we were so surprised to see children lining up voluntarily to go on stage. The reward of watching them perform was priceless.
This summer camp is a journey of experiencing and sharing love, where all the teachers and students helped each other and cared for each other. We the volunteer teachers tried to understand these children and hoped to provide positive guidance through communication. On the other hand, these children never ceased to amaze us in many ways, from boiling water to delivering water. They even offered to wash dishes and do our laundry for us. I believe the seeds of love we planted in these young hearts will grow to be the most beautiful things in their life.
In life, certain events stay with us forever. This year¡¯s summer camp in GaoHan was one such invaluable experience for me.
Letter to My Sponsor
- by Yang (PEACH student attending Northwest Tech College)
Time flies by so quickly, like a dewdrop on a leaf, which disappears before the breeze can caress it. Here I am sitting in the classroom of my dream college because of your continuous support throughout the years. Not only do I want to share this joyful moment with you, but also I really want to take this opportunity to tell you how grateful I am.
With your help and my persevering spirit, I was able to rise up from the challenges in my life. During these years, I learned to make the best of what little I had, regardless of how bad the situation was. Your support kept me going while I was down, and gave me comfort and strength. I believe knowledge will change and fulfill my life.
The transition of leaving my family and coming to study in Xi¡¯an forced me to learn to conquer loneliness by making friends with strangers. My dorm mates are from all parts of the country, but we make great efforts to bond and live well together. As far as my studies are concerned, I chose English as my major, because I want to be a great English teacher. I also campaigned to be the captain of my class so that I will have an opportunity to improve my leadership skills.
Dear Auntie, I have adjusted well to my college. I have a lot more free time now, compared to my high school years, which gives me more opportunities to learn on my own. I am very proud and excited to be able to attend this great college, but I also know it does not stop here. I will work harder than ever. Thank you.
A Colorful Summer Camp
- by Zhan (PEACH student attending LiaoNing medical school)
I am very lucky to be a PEACH-sponsored student, but perhaps I am even more fortunate to have the chance to participate in the English Summer Camp. Even though the camp is over, the memories live on in my heart.
¡°Happy Life¡± classes ¨C I was very self-conscious and was often worried about the unexpected. I was also shy and never able to stand up for myself. I was not happy, but I never really tried to understand the root of my unhappiness. In my ¡°Happy Life¡± classes; however, I learned about self-confidence and self-respect, which lead to a happier life.
EQ classes ¨C In these classes, we talked about our emotions, and we released the burdens in our hearts. We learned to let go of all the sadness and move toward happiness, one step at a time.
OH! Summer Camp!
- by Qiu (A 5th grader in GaoHan Elementary School)
What is a Summer Camp? What are we going to do in Summer Camp? ¡ I had so many questions before the first day of the camp.
Now, the camp is over. I am very pleased with my progress during the 10 days camp because I learned so much. We learned proper English pronunciation, and we got to observe the solar eclipse on the second day of our camp. Our teachers explained what solar eclipse was and how rare this phenomenon was. Besides everything we learned in the classroom, our teachers also introduced many important life lessons to us, such as proper manners and hygiene. We learned how to brush our teeth also.
It was a wonderful 10 days. We were so happy and we ate really well. Now we had to say good-bye to all our beloved teachers. I didn¡¯t really want to let you go. Oh! Summer camp! Why did you come so unexpectedly and end so quickly?
My Experience at GaoHan Summer Camp
- by He (PEACH student attending Southwest college)
I was not too surprised by the condition in GaoHan when we arrived, because it reminded me so much of my hometown. My first impression was how cold this place was in July. We couldn¡¯t sleep well at night because of the coldness, and it was too cold to wash up in the morning. The GaoHan Elementary School looked so much like my own old elementary school, with old wooden structures, small and dim classrooms, and little resources.
Most of the students in GaoHan School were just like me, ten years ago. We dream of seeing the outside world, but the dreams seem too far away. As I stood in front of them, looking into these eager eyes, I knew what my mission was: to share with them what I know, to answer their questions, and to benefit them in any way possible. I told them my stories, and hoping to encourage them to pursue their dreams.
This summer camp was a brand-new experience for me. I¡¯ve benefited much more than I expected. I would love to participate in the years to come.