In December we were privileged to travel with the Sunshine Project, students from Nanjing University, and members of our branch to Gaochun, for a service project at the Gaochun Special School.
This school is amazing. In a country where disabilities and differences are widely feared and even ostracized they have created a safe space where these children can grow and learn. Some are deaf, some suffer from cerebral palsy, and some have Downs syndrome, among other things.
But these kids are just about the cutest and happiest kids I've ever seen. And we wanted to them to experience Christmas. We started out with meeting Santa and decorating Christmas trees. The kids LOVED Santa. They kept saying hi and loved punching his big belly. A lot of them were smart enough to figure out that his bulging stomach may have gotten some help from a stuffed backpack :) And they loved decorating the trees. What kid wouldn't?
Next we had a Santa craft (here) for everyone to do. It took a little time for them to understand what they were making, but after a few times of holding them up to our faces and then pointing to Santa they finally figured it out, and boy did it make them laugh!
|Explaining the craft|
We followed up with singing some Christmas carols and doing the hokey pokey, a song they had all learned before.
Then we cleaned up and broke for lunch. And if you think cafeteria food is bad in the States then don't come to China. I didn't even recognize half of the food. But I tried a little bit of everything and then filled up on rice and veggies.
|One of my Primary girls helping out|
After lunch was the best part. For the few months before this some of the women in the branch (and lots of people back in the States) had been working on making beanies/hats that we could give to them (as previously mentioned here) and the Sunshine project had been been stocking up on candy and ear muffs. The students from NU brought crafts and helped the kids with them, and we took all of the presents from classroom to classroom and Santa delivered them to each little girl and boy. The kids absolutely loved it. It was so funny that we tried to take the right number of "boy-color" items and "girl-color" items to each room but then even some of the boys were fighting for the pink earmuffs. Oh China.
|I made this hat!|
It was such a fun, beautiful day. I loved having the opportunity to serve, and to feel the love of so many happy kids!