Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, China. Love, Shelene.

During my semester in China, I had an opportunity to visit a class of orphans who were allowed to live and be taught English at the school. As time went on I realized the only clothes they owned were their uniforms, and they had few to no toys or possessions. I made an effort to go visit or tuck some of them in at night, after I tucked in my own students.

One of the nights I went to say good night, some of the orphans pulled old tattered books and toys from their safe hiding places to show me and to have me read to them. It broke my heart to see them with barely anything and how careful they took care of everything.

I decided that I needed to do something to help. I emailed my mom and told her that I did not have a lot of money but I would like to help buy all 30+ students at least one toy for Christmas. My mom talked to neighbors and members of our church and raised over $200. With the donated money, and what little I had to contribute, my best friend and I set out to buy Christmas for the orphans.

After a couple weeks of planning, shopping, stressing, and putting things together, the time had come for us to surprise the orphans! My best friend and I had bought and put stuffed gift bags for each of the students. Thanks to all the contributors, each student received: a large toy, a smaller toy, gloves for winter, pages of stickers, a digital pet, candy, chips, pencils, and paper.

The day of the big unveiling came and we brought all the gift bags to the waiting students. On the count of three all the kids opened their bags and discovered all their new toys. Watching them open their gifts and squealing with joy was one of the best feelings ever! I went around the room and watched as they showed each other their new toys and jabbered excitedly.

The next few moments definitely changed my life and made it a Christmas I would never forget. As the children organized all the presents, they began to notice that they had two of some things, like candy and other treats. The students were so grateful for their gifts that they started lining up to give me their extra candy to thank me. Each student would come and say, "Teecha, thank you SO much. Here, candy is for you." I would try to explain that it was all for them and I didn't need the candy. Again they would persist, "No teecha, I love you, candy is for you." Knowing that it was rude not to accept gifts, I hesitantly took their excess candy.

As each student came up to give me candy and a hug, I couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my face. I was so blessed with a family and many worldly possessions, and the orphans were willing to share what little they had just to thank me. I walked away that day so grateful for all that I had, and with a new appreciation and love for the lesson those precious Chinese students taught me. I enjoyed every day in China and it made for so many lasting and wonderful experiences that I will cherish forever.  



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