Monday, November 7, 2011

Shining Stars, Day Two

Before I begin the details for this day, I want to acknowledge some additional team members who played a huge role in getting the Shining Stars program off the ground. Missing from our team on this trip is Ms. Ellen Dietrick, who was our physical therapist and Ms. Bethany Moore, who was our nursing assistant. Both of these ladies traveled with ZKO in May to perform assessments on our preschool children. Also missing from this trip is ZKO Board Member Valerie Martin. Val traveled with us in May as well and she is missed by the entire preschool team. While we were not able to have these ladies with us for this trip, we know they are with us in spirit. We want to thank them for all the work they put into the May trip and helping to make this program become a reality. Thank you ladies!

Over the weekend the team did some training with the preschool staff on Saturday then we spent Sunday resting and visiting with some of our local friends here in Zhanjiang.

Today was our first official day at the orphanage. We were supposed to spend the morning unpacking toys and supplies, and doing our best to assist Ms. Li in getting her classroom setup. Much to our surprise when we entered the room Ms. Li had our younger group of preschoolers sitting on floor teaching them their daily lesson.

After months of preparation and literally hundreds of volunteer hours by our team members, to actually see this programming running live was so amazing. There were tears by some of the team members and I had goose bumps as I was shooting the pictures. We could hardly believe our eyes!

The day was filled with lots of fun and the children did very well as they began to adjust to their new environment and teacher. After Ms. Li was finished with her lessons we allowed the children to spend time playing while the team got busy putting the classroom together and unpacking all of the supplies.

Of course, there were times this task became challenging as we would unpack something only to turn away for a moment and find it had been snatched up by one of the little ones. Then there were some who had pockets filled with little pieces of packing or glues sticks. Needless to say, they are very smart and very quick! They sure did keep us on our toes!

Then there were some of the children who decided to join in with the work. We had two little boys whom we have lovingly named “The Tool Time Boys”. They took a piece of equipment and used the tools that were included in the packaging and put it together from start to finish. There is no doubt these boys have a future ahead of them!

It has been so amazing to watch the children slowly begin to come out of their shells. This trip has been very different from the one in May when it took several days for the children to warm up to us and get used to our presence. They clearly remembered our team members and so the fear and shyness have not been an issue this time. This shyness has turned into smiles and eventually into hugs. These children are literally blossoming before our very eyes and they are all very special to us.

I hope you enjoy all the pictures. Our team has sat and looked through them several times this evening reminiscing about the day and laughing about the kids and how much fun they had. While there is a lot more I could say about our first day in the Shining Stars Preschool, I think I’d rather let the pictures speak for themselves.

Thank you for following along on our journey.
Vickie, for ZKO

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