Though the STELLAR students have been busy with their regular classroom assignments for the past week, they have been preparing for a special event this weekend as well. The three-credit course that the students take during the program includes a service-learning component. Service-learning is a special program at UMM that incorporates community service and civic engagement activities into classes so that the experience at once helps students learn about the community and serves community needs. For the service-learning component of their STELLAR class, students developed projects that would help teach children ages 6 to 12 about Chinese culture. After hard work getting ready, they at last had the chance to meet the students!
We were surprised to learn when we arrived that the children had also been working hard to prepare for our visit. They had been studying China for the past week and made us a welcoming sign decorated with a Chinese flag and a replica of the Great Wall of China made entirely of candy and toothpicks! The children were happy to see us, and taught us many of their favorite games before we all sat down together for lunch. We took so many great photos with the children that it is hard to decide what to include--so you'll have to look for more on the new STELLAR Flickr account!
After lunch we began the teaching portion of the day, giving the children a chance to learn about China through the projects that the STELLAR students had prepared. The projects ranged from teaching the children Chinese songs and stories to traditional games to simple cooking and paper folding.
Many students commented on the beauty of Chinese crafts, and others were surpised to find they liked cucumbers when mixed into a tasty Chinese salad! The STELLAR students worked hard, but made the day a very exciting one for the children. In fact, the Program Director at the Boys and Girls Club told us that the children were having some of the most fun she's seen in her year working in the program. And, as we tiredly left, we saw many excited children waving goodbye and heard a chorus of "sheh sheh." The students were telling us thank you--in Chinese!