Last Monday (7/25) and this Wednesday (8/3) I reached more blocks in my Chinese. It just made the elderly home a little more difficult. But I am always able to help and still make them happy anyway. I found a place to develop photos so I could give some of the pictures I took to the elderly and autistic children. The elderly were especially happy that I did that. I have never seen someone so happy to have a photo! Huang Yeye (Huang Grandpa) put the pictures in his hat and would constantly look at them every few minutes. Then he asked me to put the pictures in his room but Wang Yeye told me that Huang Yeye does not even know where his room is... (he just has a minor mental disability... if I heard right his wife was murdered...but it could just be me mixing up Chinese words!!) I’m so glad that I can make them happy!! And for the last few days at the elderly home I will be teaching a few of them some English!
At the autistic school Last Tuesday (7/26) I focused on one boy because his emotions were all over the place. He was hitting, screaming, throwing things, crying and would randomly calm down for a few minutes. This boy is 2 years old and just began showing symptoms of autism. His mother was so frustrated but patient for a while. Once her patience grew short, she slapped him really hard on the face. This left a horrible bruise. I encouraged her a lot and told her that she was a great mother either way. Then that Thursday (7/28) the boy was again not stable. I went over to try and help. He was wearing a tank top that day and I saw bruises on every inch of his arms and back. I am talking about REALLY large bruises that cover whole sections of his body. It is really hard to see especially since I cannot do anything about it. This boy seemed to just really want some love. When one of the teachers gave him a hug he would stop throwing a tantrum and hug the teacher back. But his father was with him that day and was not patient at all. At one point he was grabbing his son’s neck like he was going to choke him or something!! It is so sad.
Some parents will be patient and kind to their disabled child, but there are some really depressed parents that do not treat them the right way. But then I really have to realize that the parents at this school actually kept their children instead of abandoning them in the first place. Many mentally or physically disabled children will be abandoned because it is shameful in the Chinese culture. There are also so many expectations from Chinese parents. Having a “imperfect” child is a bad “investment.” Most people can only have one child because of the one-policy in China. Some will have a second child if they are rich and can pay a crazy amount of money.
After being there for over a month I have JUST now realized that I have really only seen a select few autistic girls. Most of the children at the school are boys. It actually makes a lot of sense because many families want a son instead of a daughter. So having a girl that is autistic is the worst combination and these girls will most likely will be abandoned. The few girls that I have interacted with at the autistic school are just so precious... It really makes me think that there are some really great parents at the autistic school and I admire them for not giving into what is “acceptable” in the Chinese society.
I have really gotten attached to these children. The little boy in my previous blog post, who has the paper ring on his ear, will always be wearing them on his ears after his art class. I think his mom uses it as a reward now – if he can cut these shapes then he gets to wear them on his ears haha... Another boy only participates in the exercises in music class because he really likes me a lot and will only listen to me. It is interesting because I have only seen him show any kind of emotion when he around me. His grandma is so happy to see this! I have also told some parents, who have children that refuse to talk, about the story in the United States where an autistic boy began speaking with his dog (see previous blog post for the short story).
So aside from my amazing learning experiences, I took a little trip this past weekend. I went with one of my friends from the Keats School to Dali (大理). It is a small city about 5 hours away from Kunming.
I loved Dali! First, I just LOVE mountains. Next, it really reminded me of Tibet(I went last year with the Belmont Study Abroad group). Then I really like cities in China that keep their traditional style. It was a great place to relax and see something different.
I miss China already and I haven’t even left yet!