Thursday, July 15, 2010

China Camp 2010

China Camp is very close to my heart (after I've recovered from it every year). I've never been able to put it into words very well, but I have a friend who has done a great job of it. This picture is of the class that I taught this year, the four year olds. The grown up face in the middle is Stephanie Wang-Breal, the producer of a film called "Wo Ai Ni Mommy." Below the picture is an excerpt from Karen S's blog. I wholeheartedly concur. "We just wrapped up three amazing, fun-filled days at Dillon International's annual China Heritage Camp. China Camp grabbed my heart that first year and never let go. Maybe because it's more than just 'camp.' "

China Camp is for children adopted from China and their famlies to help them learn more about their Chinese heritage. Campers age 4 through 12 participate in language class, music, art, cooking, history, culture and martial arts.

And while there are the usual camp suspects - macaroni noodle crafts, teen counselors, and camp songs - that's not what this camp is really about.

It's about not being the only Chinese kid in the room. It's about being surrounded by Chinese kids in every room. It's about not having to explain why your hair is straight or your eyes are different. Or why you don't look like your parents. It's about being with 240 other kids who know your story and just understand. It's about relaxing and just being you.

It's about learning your native language - the language you heard at birth, but maybe haven't heard in years. And feeling a connection to your homeland even though it may very well be a place you don't remember and have only seen in pictures.

It's about learning that you aren't so different after all. It's about gaining strength, wisdom, and tools to handle the inevitable taunts and the questions and the well-intentioned comments. It's about rebuilding egos so you can go back out into the world and deal with the issues and demons you may be facing - externally...and internally.

It's about being so tiny and feeling so scared and seeing a group of teen counselors who look just like you. Teenagers who are confident, strong, and brave. And getting to know them. And liking them. And wanting to be like them. It's about having role models outside of Chinese restaurants.

It's about performing a song in your native language with 35 of your new and old friends. It's about dancing a traditional, centuries-old dance for your mom and dad. It's about so much more than a red silk dress worn every Chinese New Year.

China Camp is about lessons and experiences I can only imagine. That's because China Camp isn't really about me.

China Camp is about my daughter."

Some of the four year old "dragonfly" group at cooking class. They made noodles, which they loved, and a playdough-like substance that was rolled into balls and boiled, which most of them did not love.
Courtney is my number 1 helper. She is amazing with these little ones and just knows what needs to be done before I ask her. She worked so hard to help these little ones have a good time. I am so proud of her!

This was Cassidy's fourth year at China Camp. She always has a great time.
Why do we work so hard at China Camp every year and why do we make Cassidy's attendance a priority?
Because Cassidy Yin was born in Chongqing, People's Republic of China, and we love her.

1 comment:

Jill and Rick said...

Oh Martha, she said it beautifully. In spite of my personal challenges this year, my darling daughters had a wonderful time (and thank you, especially, Martha and Courtney for making Annie's first year at camp a successful one!)


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