HAPPY ST. NICK’S DAY!
Growing up, I knew this day for only one reason: on December 6, our parents would drop a few goodies in our Christmas stockings. Although the candy probably stole my attention, Mom & Dad were trying to use the occasion to educate us about Saint Nicholas, the ‘real’ Santa Claus.
Saint Nicholas lived from 270-347. He was the bishop of Myra, a city on the Mediterranean coast in present-day Turkey, and he became well-known for his love of children and for his generosity toward the poor and the suffering in his community. Nicholas knew the world had received the ultimate Gift at Christmas, and he used his life to ‘re-gift’ to the people around him that needed it most.
It’s too bad the legend of Saint Nicholas devolved into the “belly like a bowl full of jelly.” I recently read something that sums it up pretty well:
Santa Claus encourages consumption Saint Nicholas encourages compassion
All of us want the former, but we all need the latter, and at Christmas we receive the One who gives it to us in abundance. Thanks for the reminder, Saint Nick.
ORPHANS GET PLUGGED IN
Last month, we completed the computer lab project at Shanghai Children’s Home (SCH), a large orphanage in the city’s western suburbs. Almost 1,700 orphans are registered through SCH. Over 1,000 of these are living with families in the community, while about 600 are housed at the SCH facility. Of these 600, over 200 are of school age. Most of these students attend local schools in the community, but about 70 children with special needs attend classes on the SCH campus. The orphanage receives government subsidy for all the basic necessities of operation, but they are not provided with many of the extras that support education (like computers).
Through a generous donor in Hong Kong, CWEF was able to turn an old classroom at SCH into a new computer lab. With this new facility, all the students on the SCH campus will now have access to technology. Classes in typing and Microsoft Office applications have already begun for the older students, and will expand to all students next semester.
Without access to computers, these students were left at a distinct disadvantage compared with their peers. Now, they will be connected to a broader world and given one more tool they will need to succeed in life after the orphanage.
ENGLISH FOR MIGRANTS
We have now completed the first of (hopefully) many visits to the migrant school in south Shanghai’s Jinshan district, CWEF’s first partner school here. This is actually two schools on one campus: Shihua #1 Primary School and Mengshan Middle School, both of which cater specifically to the children of migrant workers, a large and under-served population in Shanghai.
Children of migrant workers are typically not able to attend the same public schools as their Shanghainese counterparts. Special schools like the one in Jinshan have been set up for them, but these schools don’t receive the same government funding as regular schools, and the educational level is much lower, especially in English instruction, which is vital for high school entrance exams.
In November, I helped lead the first two English-teaching volunteer teams from Concordia International School here in Shanghai. Into the future, we will be taking teams of volunteers to Jinshan on a regular basis to teach English and encourage the students in their education.
Thank you for your generous support of this work.
(Sheng Dan Kuai Le!, literally Holy Birth Happy!)