Dear ABC Friends and Family,
On the evening of December 20th, ABC International held its DREAM Christmas party at Picture My Cup Café, a quaint photography themed café in Wangjing, North-East Beijing. For many DREAM students, this was their very first Christmas, so ABC threw a special Christmas party to celebrate with staff, friends, and volunteers. The night before the event, the foster homes and the cafe were hives of activity as Ma Laoshi and the DREAM students prepared dumplings, vegetable and meat dishes and the café prepared a variety of Mexican and American food. Afterwards, the DREAM students decorated the Christmas tree and the café with fairy lights and tinsel and prepared for the live entertainment they would be providing their guests in less than 24 hours. On the evening itself, the DREAM students sat at the entrance of the café adorned with Santa hats and welcomed the guests as they entered, received their nametags, and helped themselves to plates of dumplings, vegetables, grilled cheese and cups of delicious tomato soup. The limelight was then on the DREAM students, who anxiously waited in line to introduce themselves in English before the audience. This was the perfect opportunity for them to demonstrate how much their English has improved during their time at ABC. Students described their hometowns, gave details about their favorite hobbies and wished the audience a Merry Christmas. Through these introductions, the audience was able to learn about each student’s personality, background and goals. Olive gave a detailed description of her interests and explained to the audience how she aims to become a translator and so she is working hard to improve her English. William gave a vivid description of his hometown in Yunnan and managed to convince half the audience that they should visit!
Following this, the boys sang a song together about friendship and their hometowns and then the whole group sang a song together about love. The audience applauded enthusiastically and there were calls of “Encore! Encore!” William responded by offering to sing a solo! He bravely stood before the whole audience and sung a traditional song from his minority group, the Li Su minority group. The whole group then performed a famous Chinese drama sketch, Tang Bohu, where Vanessa took the lead role as the man who has fallen in love with Qiu Xiang, who was played by Linda. The DREAM students added their own modern jokes, which made the Tang Dynasty sketch even more amusing and had the audience in fits of laughter. This was the first time many of the DREAM students had performed in front of an audience, and most said they found it really exhilarating, even if they’d been quite nervous!
The projector screen then slowly rose to reveal two tables stacked with presents of all shapes and sizes. Everyone then played “Pass the snowman”, where a cuddly toy snowman was passed around the room in time with the music. When the music stopped, whoever was holding the snowman got the chance to pick a present, and there were cheers around the room as each guest unwrapped a present. A variety of handcreams, scarves, lip-balms, laundry baskets, gloves, and picture frames were excitedly unwrapped and swapped until all guests had a present they were happy with.
Everyone then participated in a memory game, where participants were divided into two teams – the Santa team (those with Santa hats) and the non-Santa team – and given new names for the duration of the game. The aim of the game was for each team to get six members into the “hot seats” through remembering everyone’s new name and reorganizing their positions accordingly. The game became increasingly competitive as the students began to associate faces with their new names. Shouts of “Ma Laoshi! Charles!” and “Jiang Anming!” filled the air. Much to the mock fury of the non-Santa team, the Santa team finally managed to get six participants into the “hot seats,” and those winners were rewarded with prizes of Calvin Klein wallets, Polo-shirts and Cosmetics. The evening ended with a group photo, with many participants still wearing their Santa hats and with Jiang Anming posing at the front of the photo.
Overall, the DREAM students agreed it had been a wonderful way to spend their first Christmas. They had shared presents, eaten a variety of delicious food, played games and had the opportunity to perform in English and Chinese in front of an audience. But most importantly, they had celebrated their very first Christmas with fellow DREAM students, their teachers and their friends.
**Many thanks to Kate William for writing this update.
After exhausting our orphanage networks around China, and after completing assessments and interviews all over a period of a couple of months, a Class of 8 adolescents, ages 16-20, has been formed. While each student brings their own unique personality and gifts, we were also impressed, overall, by a Class characterized by a common desire to learn. Throughout the application process, each student was able to identify and communicate the value of the program’s services. Although this adventure is only a couple of weeks in progress, the students have already been exposed to a lot - they have embarked on a journey that has brought them to Beijing, which for most it is the 1st time they have come to the capital; they are challenged to adapt to new living and learning environments; and they are faced with a situation where they are expected to excel, and aggressively seek opportunities for self-improvement. All of this to say, it is my honor and privilege to introduce you to the Dream Class of 2014-2015, and welcome them into the family. We hope they feel a sense of belonging and self-value that is commensurate to the gratification that we receive in helping them along the way.
Linda Linda joins us from Yunnan. She hopes to improve her English at ABC so that she can travel abroad and improve her competitiveness in the job market.
William William also joins us from Yunnan. He hopes that he can increase his exposure to new things, and improve his communication, presentation and Microsoft Office skills. William would like to enroll in a university post ABC and work towards earning a degree.
Olive Olive joins us from Sichuan. She hopes that she can improve her habits, and work on controlling her temper. Olive would also like to improve her ability to get along with others.
Mary Mary joins us from Hubei. Prior to coming to ABC, she studied Massage therapy. She hopes to improve her ability to take care of herself. Mary would like to find a job post Dream Program.
Dora Dora also joins us from Hubei. She hopes to improve her English, communication, and problem-solving skills. Dora would like to find a job upon graduation. Abel Abel joins us from Shanxi. He has 2-3 years of work experience after dropping out of school. Abel has come to realize that without an education his opportunities are limited. He hopes to use his time at ABC to increase his knowledge and learn more about his own potential.
Kevin Kevin also joins us from Shanxi. Kevin was kicked out of school prior to coming to ABC. Kevin likes art. He hopes that he can study art in college after graduating from the program.
Vanessa Vanessa also joins us from Shanxi. Prior to coming to ABC, Vanessa studied computers. She was not satisfied with the environment at her previous school, and found that she was not learning as much as she desired. Vanessa hopes to increase her knowledge at ABC and to stay busy.
We invite you to follow along and observe the growth of each of these children throughout the year.
Saturday, June 28 marked the culmination of study, and life and experience in Beijing for many of the 9 students in the Dream Program's Class of 2013-2014. And the start of a new adventure. For each of the students who we had the privilege to train, mentor, live and share experiences with, we are deeply proud of what they have been able to accomplish in just this short period of 1 year. Coming to us as children hoping to improve their English, refine their life skills and get ahead as they prepare for their next stage in life, we sincerely hope that they not only obtained these skill sets, but more importantly, that they were able to find some semblance of "home" within the ABC family. We are certain that they will hold places in our hearts and memories for a long time. And it is our intention to maintain contact with them, and try to be a part of their lives moving forward.
Below are some comments about one of the student's progress from Guihua, Program Manager. Jade was a strong academic performer throughout the year. She had a strong sense of her own capabilities and was therefore able to set realistic goals and expectations for herself in her studies. Jade was able to keep up with the English teacher's pace, and was especially strong in her English writing skills. She was able to learn quickly, express her opinions and act in leadership roles in our core skills and teamwork classes. In computer class, Jade learned how to operate office software, and complete all of her assignments in a timely manner. In her 1 year at ABC, Jade's study habits improved significantly, and she has decided to continue her studies at a technical school post graduation. We are so proud of Jade!
We would also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of those who helped to make this last year a success. We hope that we can work together again to care for the incoming 2014-2015 Class arriving in September - Oh! How excited we are!
Best Regards,Zadok Huang
Children, specifically migrant children and orphans, are at the center of ABC program planning and implementation. Sense of accomplishment in working with these children is obtained when a child sees development and progress, whatever areas these may be, from our work. Every year, the Dream Program, which caters to orphans ages 16-21 years old, welcomes a class of about 10-12 students into its family by providing them with loving homes as well as offering them a practical education. Some children see improvement in confidence, some are more willing to present in front of audiences, some learn teamwork skills, and some gain lifetime friendships. We share a story here of one student, Sunny, to provide an example of a child who has shown tangible development, and encouragement for all of those volunteers, sponsors, employees and other benefactors who work so diligently to make our programs run.
Sunny joined us from a rural area where she received her upbringing and education. She struggled with anger in the beginning of our program, and often would use words such as “dog,” “pig,” and “stupid,” to describe other classmates. She would sometimes even engage in physical conflict with some of the male classmates. Through the guidance, care and love of one of our Foster Home Managers, Sunny has begun to learn what words are right and what words are inappropriate to use when communicating with her peers and others. This process of reflecting on her language and behavior has resulted in significant improvement in her social skills. Academically speaking, Sunny came in with a relatively strong English foundation compared with her classmates. She is now able to write a paragraph in English describing one of her friends. In computer classes, Sunny now can type 100 words / minute and is capable of using the basic functions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint software to complete homework.
As the Dream Program Class of 2013-2014 students gear up for the home stretch of their year-long academic program and prepare to participate in the Talent Program’s Spring 2014 volunteer program, we are excited at the prospect of experiencing the process and outcomes of positive change in more childrens' lives.
Dear ABC Family and Friends,
More than four months have passed sinceABC welcomed the DREAM class of 2013-2014 students to our family. Within this period of time, a lot of energy has been spent towards equipping these students with skills to help them transition into society. Below are some highlights from their time here to date.
Welcome PartyAfter a week-long orientation, the nine new 2013-2014 ABC DREAM students finished their transition to ABC at the annual welcome dinner. On Saturday, July 20th, ABC staff and teachers gathered to formally welcome the new students to the DREAM program. The evening started off with an active icebreaker to get everybody energized. The students then introduced themselves and their interests. These introductions were followed by a song. The lively group listened to inspiring speeches from past students, teachers and staff.
Spirit of Giving BackAs part of the DREAM program education, students are given the opportunity to volunteer as teachers for local migrant students. The DREAM students also interact and work with university student and working professional volunteers to accomplish their volunteer work.
On September 7, ABC hosted the TALENT program’s Fall volunteer training day at the Middle School attached to Northern Jiaotong University. 75 volunteers attended, including 31 art volunteers, 16 music volunteers, 21 basketball volunteers, 4 dance volunteers, and 3 photography volunteers. Throughout the semester, volunteers learned team building skills and how to incorporate the 4C values (Commitment, Confidence, Courage and Care) into their classes.
On November 23, ABC hosted its Fall 2013 Talent Program Graduation ceremony for its volunteers, students, and partner schools and teachers. 313 students from 6 different migrant schools, and 144 volunteers and honorable guests attended the event. The day consisted of a basketball tournament, art exhibit and activity, and musical and dance performances.
On the night of November 30, ABC hosted its volunteer appreciation meeting. The meeting was designed to provide volunteers the opportunity to receive recognition for their hard work and dedication. In addition, those attending were able to share their insights, recall memories from the semester and continue building the friendships with the other volunteers.
We take great honor and pride in providing the DREAM students with opportunities to improve themselves as individuals and part of the greater community. Over the remaining 6 months of the program, it is our sincerest hope that each student will acquire a tangible skill and come to know that they are part of a family here at ABC.
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