Every coin has two sides


One exciting thing that happened last week and goes on till this week is the little pen pal program I set up for the elder kids at Meals and More. Every Tuesday morning, a chunk of time was allotted to me to teach the children some Chinese. Considering the complexity of the language, it is very difficult for the elementary school children to grasp the language in a short amount of time. So, I decided to incorporate some cultural elements into the lesson. Three weeks ago, we learned about some fun facts about China. The kids laughed after the facts that toilet paper was invented in China in the late 1300s and fortune cookies are not a traditional Chinese custom, but were invented in 1920 by a worker in the Key Heong Noodle Factory in San Francisco.
During the lessons, the children came up with all sorts of questions about China. Their desire to learn about different cultures connected with an idea I had years ago. When I was learning English in middle school I hoped that I could have had an American pen pal, so that I could learn about American culture and practice English with native speakers. Based on that idea, the little pen pal program was set up. I collected questions that the children write down for their Chinese peers and connected with some middle school students back home. There are some interesting conversations happening in the back and forth correspondences. Since I was not supposed to post any photo with the kids showing their faces, I’m glad that I could post some of the little letters here that showcase the cross-culture experience they had.

The summer is more than half way over. Most of our times immersed in the Gettysburg community are filled with laughter, learning, and inspiring conversations. However, as every coin has two sides, we all have experienced challenges, hardships, and disappointments at different levels. Meagan Shreve, the director at SCCAP, talked about the severe state budget cut on SCCAP programs at our breakfast table last week. I have seen my program unable to meet the need of every child due to all sorts of limitations. At times, the anxiety and sense of helplessness haunt me because of the limited things I can do as an individual. However, like Cam said in her speech at GIV Day last year, “I work at the Center for Public Service not because I believe I have solutions to the issues of our society, but because I want to learn and become aware of them.” And becoming aware of the issues facing our community is the first step we take to make changes.



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