Now that I’m interested, what’s my name?

MC40_spring_festival_coupletsMy daughter and I moved to Canada in July 2011, and since then, I have been flat out working on my MA in Intercultural Communications, looking for work and starting a consulting business. My 8-year-old daughter is happily enrolled in a great public school a few blocks away that has a wonderful ‘learn through the arts’ program. Unfortunately, I have not had enough time to volunteer or get to know her class mates that much.

However, during Chinese New Year of 2013, I was able to take a few hours one morning to volunteer my time and share with my daughter’s classmates and teacher. I decided to show them how to create a Chinese ‘craft’ that is made and hung on door frames in China leading up to and after the Chinese New Year. I prepared some information about Chinese New year, some samples and instructed the teacher to prepare the necessary materials. My daughter was excited, as she got into the sharing of information about China, too, with her classmates – the little expert!

What I didn’t prepare for was the intense and genuine interest in the kids wanting to know how their names were written in Chinese! Oops, I hadn’t thought of that, actually, thinking that they would be more interested in the symbols, painting, and colors. I was wrong, they all wanted ‘on the spot’ translations of their names into Chinese characters. I was able to give the easier names right on the spot, such as David and Lily, but the rest I was unable. Afterwards, the teacher and I decided that next time we would instruct the kids to research their name online and prepare to share their ‘Chinese’ names when the class started.

I not only had a lot of fun that day, but learned a lot about kids and how they can have an unlimited, genuine and reasonable interest in new material, especially if it can be related back to them personally. It was one of the best volunteer experiences I have ever had.

- Karen in Calgary