Changes to our Angel Training Center

This week we are featuring a letter from our founder and President with regards to some shifts at our Beijing location, the Angel Training Center.  Please read and let us know in the comments if you have any questions!

To Our Donors,

Over the last ten years, Living Hope International has provided a brighter future to over a hundred Chinese children thanks to the generous support provided by people like you.  As we continue to develop and shift the functioning of our programs, we want to make sure you remain informed about all that is happening in China.

 

   As you know, we run our Angel Training Center out of Fangshan, a district of Beijing city.  We initially cared for children from the Beijing area, and then branched out to providing residential care to children from rural Shanxi province, a few hours west of the city.  Last year, new government policies were enacted to relax certain household registration policies as well as initiate population control in the capital.  Part of this policy involves registration for schools and the eligibility of out-of-province children for enrolling in Beijing’s public school system.

 

   At the time of this policy being enacted, all our children in the Angel Training Center were residents of Shanxi.  Our children were able to finish the semester in spring 2014, and returned in fall 2014 as we had hoped rolling out of the policy would still allow for us to find a solution for our children’s school enrollment.  While they were able to attend the first month of school in Beijing city, during National Week holiday in the beginning of October, the initialization had completed and our children, as orphans without Beijing residency, could no longer attend school in Beijing.

 

   During National Week, our children returned home to Shanxi to spend time with their living relatives, either grandparents, aunts and uncles, or foster families, while we investigated next steps.  I personally travelled to China and along with Li Chen, the Angel Training Center headmaster, pursued solutions.

 

Ultimately, our children have no possibility of becoming eligible for schooling in Beijing.  Because of this we began to look within Shanxi, and after finding the top-rated elementary and middle schools in the province met with the leaders of said schools and arranged for all our residential children to be enrolled there.  Following arranging enrollment, we found a location to rent, allowing for our children to again live together in large family units as previously modeled in the Fangshan Angel Training Center.

 

   Mr. Chu, a long-term advisor of Living Hope International in China, will be joining as the full-time headmaster of this new location while Li Chen remains in Beijing.  We will also maintain an office in Beijing, with a small staff overseeing the Beijing residency-holding young adults who still live and work there.

 

   The transition out of Beijing has not been ideal, however we are happy with the end results.  None of the children in our care would have ever been considered for inclusion in these top Shanxi schools prior to us taking them in.  We can see the difference already made in their lives, and trust that being closer to their traditional homes while still being challenged academically will allow for them to reach an even higher plain of academic achievement, becoming the leaders we believe they can become.

 

   Again, thank you for your long-standing support of Living Hope International and all we do.  Without the love of people halfway across the world, our children would have never found a chance like this.  As we look forward to helping more children in the next decade of Living Hope International, we are grateful to have you walking alongside us.

 

Sincerely,

Samuel Fang

Founder and President, Living Hope International

The neighborhood surrounding our new facility.

The neighborhood surrounding our new facility.

 

The building we are now located in.

The building we are now located in.

One of the bedrooms within our location.

One of the bedrooms within our location.

A classroom in our new location.

A classroom in our new location.

National Day is Here!

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Tiananmen Square decorations. (image from britannica.com)

This week in both our homes, all residential children are preparing for a long break from school, and our vocational students, especially in Fuzhou, are all preparing to come home for a week of relaxation and fun.  Some of our older children, like Ben from Fuzhou, only returns home for the National Day celebrations, and thus our staff and younger children are all excited to see him!

National Day, October 1, is one of the largest holidays in modern China.  National Day represents the open of one of two golden weeks in China, and thus begins a week-long vacation from school and government work.  Like most countries, China’s National Day is a celebration of the founding of the country – in this case the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 in Tiananmen Square.

Throughout the country, the government organizes many large festivals, one of the largest being a famed parade and fireworks display outside the Forbidden City in Tiananmen Square.  There are many annual television events as well, concerts and speeches tuned in to by millions around the country.  The fireworks display is one thing no child wants to miss!  Though there will be a small one in Fuzhou, and another near Fangshan, much like watching the Macy’s Parade in the US, this National Day parade and fireworks are usually enjoyed through the television.

Preparing for the 60th anniversary parade

Preparing for the 60th anniversary parade (image from britannica.com)

 

In our Fuzhou home, we are preparing for most of our children to return home.  Except for Vicky, Justin, and May, all of our residential children will be on-site for at least a couple days, especially for the large feast being prepared for us all to enjoy together.  Thanks to generous help from specific donors, we’ll also be holding some small activities for our younger children, and each family unit is planning some type of outing during the time off from school.

Of course, like all school vacations in China, the children all have plenty of homework – in fact the elementary schoolers have a special booklet of homework that must be completed within National Week.  This might dull the excitement a little, but the children are hoping to get through them quickly – Peter has already expressed that he hopes to have his done before vacation even really begins.

While it is a modern holiday, and does not have the deeper meaning of the traditional Chinese holidays, National Day is certainly a huge event that we’re looking forward to enjoying in Fangshan and Fuzhou.  Following our celebrations, next week we’ll be sure to update you all with some pictures and stories about what we all did!

Fireworks outside the Forbidden City

Fireworks outside the Forbidden City (image from examinechina.com)

3 Things We’re Doing in Fangshan!

Once again that time of year has rolled around!  As August has closed up and September opens, the weather is still very hot but one thing has changed – our kids are back on-site and getting back into school!  For them the summer likely flew by, spending time with their living relatives or other guardians in a rural setting, and now that they are back in Beijing it is back to ‘regular life’.  For the staff, the vacation that followed summer camp was both well-earned and well-enjoyed.

However, now all that is in the past!  Hopefully we will soon hear from a child about their summer experience, until then it is time for them to focus on getting back into school and the staff to focus on getting everyone as well-equipped as possible for what will be, for many, a very important school year – with many children entering their first year of middle school, or getting ready to finish public schooling and looking to test into further education next year.

Here, along with pictures, are some things we are now getting back into with the children back and everyone feeling refreshed and raring to go:

Park

1. Fun!

We still have plenty of fun, especially with these final few months of warm weather.  Right now most of our time away from the school is spent at parks and other outdoor activities.  Whether it is paddle boats (pictured above) or hiking mountains (as difficult as it sounds!) we always find time to enjoy ourselves outside of just academic pursuits.

Instruments

2. Music!

With our continued focus on preserving Chinese culture and traditional activities in our children’s upbringing, we will once again be returning to weekly music classes.  Nationally-recognized teachers have been providing us with free classes on Friday evenings for more than one semester now, and we are excited to get back together with them.  Hopefully we will be able to upload a performance or practice session here on the blog soon!

Studying

3. Studying!

And, of course, the number one thing we are doing with school starting again…Studying!  As the children are now in classes again, at their same previous school, with a number of them (talked about in a previous post) entering a new schooling level, studying is becoming more and more important!  Pictured above are some of our girls studying during a post-school session, usually lasting for a bit over an hour in the evening, where staff work with small groups to finish homework and answer conceptual questions.  

Outside that, we also have studying of Chinese dance and instruments, mentioned above, which are a bit more ‘active’ and allow a change of scenery.  We do focus on each one of our children’s development as a full person, of course, but it is always important to keep in mind that educational achievement is one major key to their future – and we’ll always do our best to provide them with the best possible platform for achievement.

So that’s what we look like headed into September.  Thanks for thinking of us, and give a big 加油 (jiayou) to everyone as they head into school!

Last chance to tell us your opinion!

This is the final week of our LHI Donor Survey, which will be closing on Monday, August 4th.  So far we’ve received many replies and have been thrilled with the feedback.  Please keep it coming!  We will be making changes in how we communicate based off of what you tell us, and it is important that your voice be heard.  

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And on top of that, the prize!  A box of Chinese snacks will, still, be delivered to a randomly selected survey participant.  We may not be able to get you a full fresh meal, like the one above being enjoyed by the Zhao family in Fuzhou, but we will send you the next best thing!

Finally, as we continue to wind through the English Camp season, below is a slideshow from our most recent camp at our Fangshan location (ignore the Chinese ad!).

This week and through the middle of next week we are running camps in Fuzhou.  Camp season will be complete on August 6, then the recruitment process for next year can begin!  If you have interest in serving children in China, just get in touch with our main office or leave a comment on this entry.

One last time – our survey can be taken by clicking here.

Halfway Point

宋先生代表公司捐赠给学校10台电脑等物品 (1)

This week sees us right in the middle of one of LHI’s busiest times of year, as we host community children and foreign volunteers at our locations for English camps, as detailed in a previous post.  We’ll have more information on this year’s camps from its participants soon – for now we are looking forward to finishing up the second camp in Fangshan this week, and then running the camp in Fuzhou beginning on July 28.  Fuzhou’s camp will be a bit longer than Fangshan, running a week and a half, and our on-site children will all be attending, and they are all excited for the fun to begin.

小升初8名孩子和大人一起装沙袋防洪 (8)

This blog author has been away from Fuzhou for a couple months, but upon returning, next Sunday, we’ll get an update on the new children from this post up as soon as possible, and then have some more pictures from camp available as well.

Despite all the work happening on the China-side of our organization, there’s still one thing happening in the US that everyone reading this can help us out with.  Our survey remains open, and will still be open for more than another week.  We’d love to hear your feedback, and we appreciate the several dozen people who have answered already.  

Remember, by filling out the survey you’ll be entered to win a box of snacks from China, so get in and take it while you still can!

http://www.livinghopeintl.org/survey/

5 Things To Do With Your Summer

Over the coming four weeks we will be holding our annual summer camps in both of our China locations.  In Fangshan we will be hosting two week-long camps for community children beginning on Saturday July 12.  Down in Fuzhou we will be hosting a single week-long camp for our residential children, who remain on-site full-time, as well as a group of needy children from the surrounding area.

This year’s teams will be getting here over the next few weeks and we are all very excited to receive them here.  While it is too late to be a part of summer camp 2014, summer camp 2015 is right around the corner!  Here are five things that you could do with your summer before long!

camp1

  1. Make Candy Land a truly international game.  Alright, so this has already been done by a previous camp as pictured here, but you could pick your own classic game and bring it over to China.  That Candy Land set was worn out by the Fuzhou children within weeks of it showing up, and the simple fun of making it to Gum Drop Mountain has proven to be fully cross-cultural.  Though getting stuck in Molasses Swamp is as infuriating as ever.  Playing simple games to both build up relationships and reinforce English instruction, as well as teamwork and other life skills, is a fantastic result that can come from something as small as Candy Land!camp2
  2. Strike a cool pose.  When working together with a small group through a week, you’ll probably form close, important relationships that will stay with you for a long time.  The teens pictured here loved their small group, and have a picture of them being awesome together that they can all treasure.  Especially when working with teens, forming strong attachments and relationships that can last far beyond the week you have is an amazing opportunity!camp3
  3. Work up a sweat.  This picture is from Fangshan a couple years ago, during one of many tug-of-war competitions.  With temperatures hovering around 100 in Fangshan and around 110 in Fuzhou, you will definitely have lots of opportunities to sweat here in China.  Of course, your bedroom and teaching areas will be air conditioned, but this is an environment that will definitely make you sweat!  Whether from the simple daily work of operating cross-culturally or through tug-of-war (or perhaps endless basketball).camp4
  4. Spread joy.  This picture from 2005 shows a classic summer camp game, with the children unaware there is a person hiding under a sheet, and it is still talked about almost a decade later as one of the more hilarious things our children there had ever experienced.  Being able to laugh, whether through sharing a joke like this or just laughing about the many cultural differences you’ll experience, you will find yourself a conduit of joy, and find the same of the children around you!camp5
  5. Have a feast. This could mean something very on-the-nose, as just eating a lot of Chinese food.  And yes, you will be doing that, eating more Chinese food than you can imagine.  But beyond this, you’ll be sharing in a cultural smorgasbord where you’ll get to experience China, a true Eastern culture, over a brief period of time.  A chance to be in the context of our mission — to see, touch, taste, and fully experience what we do — is something we cannot recommend highly enough.

So there’s five things you could be doing in just one short year.  You’ll be hearing from people who participated in 2014 Summer Camps later on in the summer.

If you have any interest in summer camps, get in touch with us via phone (215-540-8810), email (lhisponsorship@gmail.com), or just leave a comment on this post!

Do you remember preparing for finals?

Do you remember the scramble to make sure everything you learned was definitely learned?  Remember the long days of studying and preparing?  Maybe some of you are still in the midst of it!

Our children certainly are in the midst of it.  Here are two of our kids in Beijing, getting ready for this week’s testing.

Good luck!  加油!

(click for full-size, perfect for desktops!)

(click for full-size, perfect for desktops!)

Transition to Summer

In Fangshan, the slow move into summer has begun.  The sixth grade students have finished testing, the middle schoolers are in the midst of theirs, and the elementary schoolers are beginning to finish up.  Our oldest on-site child, Peter, has been done with his high school testing for a few weeks.

Another long, hard school year is finally ending, much to the relief of most.  

The sixth graders who are testing this year are Maggie, Sarah, Tim, Thomas, Eric, Sally, and David.  This test, the middle school entrance exam, will have a large impact on their educational future as they strive to meet the standard to continue in their current school.  Fortunately, all of their grades indicate this will likely not be a big problem for any of them.

Peter, the teenager mentioned above, is taking the high school entrance exam which is much more of a challenge than the middle school entrance.  Depending upon his score, Peter will either be allowed to continue in public education for high school or, if he does not score well enough, will attend a vocational school of his choosing.  Among our previous students who have taken this test, a slim majority has continued to high school, with the rest currently in vocational school.  Peter has been studying hard to prepare and if effort is an indication, he should do very well!

侯立家、侯丽娜和姐姐2010.1.17Testing is not the only part of the end of the school year.  Some of our children who have older siblings are seeing their sibling return, as seen below with Maggie, Ryan and Hannah.  Hannah has been attending a vocational school and came back on June 9 for an overnight before returning to their family home, spending time with both her younger siblings who she was responsible for for many years – the picture on the left side is of the three siblings years ago, directly prior to moving into our Fangshan facility.侯丽娜、侯立家、侯焕英姐弟三人2014.6 (1)

Once everyone has finished testing and the semester has officially ended, in early July, our Fangshan children will return to their living relatives – uncles, aunts, or grandparents – for the two months of summer vacation.  Their departure from the Fangshan facility is always bittersweet, but continuing to foster the relationship with their living relatives is healthy for the children’s development.

Following their summers off, the children will return on-site and our sponsors will hear from them about their time with their relatives.  To get in touch with any of these children, become a sponsor by following the links in each name!

Next week, we talk about summer in Fuzhou.  Since our home in Fuzhou is for children without living relatives, things there are quite different, and summer is often a bit busier than usual!