Tag Archives: faculty and staff

A Miracle of Sorts

by Ralph Lelii

I want to share a wonderful class experience I had today with the community. My students presented their Shakespearean recitations in my HL English class. Students had to don the Shakespearean hat, stand on an ersatz stage, and recite from memory. With one exception, these were not theater kids. Only two had ever memorized and recited from memory before, and none a passage of 65-70 lines.

Most of them chose the St. Crispian’s Day speech from Henry the V. For me, it is a most extraordinary passage, one which reveals Shakespeare’s unerring comprehension of human consciousness and the vagaries of the human heart.

King Harry has brought along an army to France to fight a war so he can marry a woman and thus earn him more land. The soldiers in the fight have no personal stake in it, nothing to gain in any material sense, as is the case for millions of men who have fought and died in wars across all cultures and all times. The passage rouses them to an existential epiphany, where they come to see their death as a form of honor, of transcendence.

Watching scared 17 year olds, having spent hours taking this beautiful, complex and archaic language deep into their memories and then reciting it, making it into a kind of spoken music—what literature has been since the times of Homer—is a wondrous thing. To do something hard, really hard, is to gain self-esteem, I believe, an enduring sense that one has agency in this life, that they can make a life by facing down whatever challenges are presented to them.

This was a challenge; George School provides them many challenges; it is not the only one they had today, perhaps not even the hardest one, but it was something they could not fake or avoid or BS their way through; it was a challenge they had to face or go home, and they all did it, the shy, the diffident, the lost, the confident and the haughty. It makes me so proud of them.

Here is the miracle. Scientists have charted a map of the brain’s somatosensory cortex for specific facial and oral body parts. The resulting brain activity is like a carefully tuned orchestra; each instrument section generates a specific sound, and those sounds are coordinated to produce the overall symphony. The time from a word’s identification to its travel to the mouth is 1/600 of a millisecond. What miracles these young people are—this speech, the mystery of memorization, the confrontation of the emotional lability of anticipation–wonders all. I find it astonishingly beautiful.

 

Henry the V: St. Crispian’s Day

 

WESTMORLAND. O that we now had here

But one ten thousand of those men in England

That do no work to-day!

 

KING. What’s he that wishes so?

My cousin, Westmorland? No, my fair cousin;

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,

Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

Such outward things dwell not in my desires.

But if it be a sin to covet honour,

I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.

God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour

As one man more methinks would share from me

For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!

Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my host,

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,

Let him depart; his passport shall be made,

And crowns for convoy put into his purse;

We would not die in that man’s company

That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,

And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall live this day, and see old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,

And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

But he’ll remember, with advantages,

What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,

Familiar in his mouth as household words—

Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,

Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester—

Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be rememberèd-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty and Staff, Musings from Faculty

Our Final Day in Beijing, and China

Our last day in Beijing and our last day in China. We woke up and headed out for breakfast outside. Given the choice between Chinese breakfast and a bakery, almost everyone chose the bakery. After breakfast, we rode over to Coal Hill, a small hill strategically located just south of the Forbidden City. The hill is just high enough to give a wonderful overview of the Forbidden City, a view afforded nowhere else. After going up and down the hill, we headed out to 798. This old factory was turned into artist studio and gallery space several years ago and offers a wonderful viewing and selection of modern Chinese art. After wandering around there for several hours we headed back into the city to meet a number of Chinese George School families for dinner; typical Beijing cuisine. Since we had to get up so early the next morning to catch our flight, we called it a night around 8 o’clock.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty and Staff, Service, Students

Beijing Day 3

Another beautiful day in Beijing; quite seriously, blue skies and sunny, hot weather. We set off this morning by subway to have dim sum, Cantonese brunch, consisting of various steamed buns and dumplings, chicken’s feet, and other delicacies. After breakfast, we walked about 15 minutes to Yonghegong, or Lama Temple, a temple of Tibetan Buddhism. After another 15 minute walk and a brief stop for green tea ice cream, we arrived at the Confucius Temple. Temple is perhaps the wrong term for this complex, which was a place of learning and the place for the Imperial examinations, which determined who would become the highest-ranked officials. We next walked through the winding hutongs, or alleys, to arrive at a wonderful vegetarian restaurant.

The interesting thing about Chinese vegetarian restaurants is that the foods are made to appear and even taste like meat and fish. After lunch, we got on a bus and headed south to Tiantan 天坛, or the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is where the emperor used to communicate with heaven, and is now a large, beautiful park. Across the street from the east gate is the Hongqiao Pearl Market. Everyone enjoyed shopping in this very Chinese market, full of clothes and shoes and accessories and electronics and bags, and where you can bargain until you get the deal you want. Above back of the hotel where everyone put their stuff away and got a quick shower before heading out again for a dinner of Beijing duck. This is a specialty not to be missed when visiting Beijing, and we were not disappointed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty and Staff, Service, Students

Beijing Days 1 and 2

We arrived in Beijing after a ten-hour overnight train ride from Yangzhou. Fresh from a good night’s sleep for some and a not so good night’s sleep for others, we boarded the bus for a short ride to the hotel where we dropped our bags before heading out to do a full day of sightseeing. We drove over to the south side of Tiananmen Square, where we marveled at the sheer size and scale of the square. We looked north toward Mao’s portrait and then headed to walk underneath it on our way into the Forbidden City. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Service, Students

Thoughts on our First Day at the Yangzhou Orphanage

by Savio ’17

We started off the day as usual, with a short rendezvous at Yangzhou high school. We were all refreshed off of our weekends with our host families, and ready for a good day of service at Yangzhou Orphanage. The bus ride was thirty minutes, but it ended up being about an hour because the staff made us wait while they organized. Upon finally entering, we were all surprised about the condition of the orphanage. There was a clean lobby with a front desk, multiple couches, and best of all, air conditioning. After touring the building, we split up into three groups. The first group was to mop the hallways and wipe all the surfaces of the 2nd floor. The second group was to feed some of the disabled babies. And the third group was to play with some of the physically disabled children.

I was in the first group, so we ended up mopping and wiping for roughly an hour and a half. Since we finished fairly fast given the amount of time, we got to hang out with a few staff members in their office. When all the groups were finished, we walked over to their cafeteria, which was in a different building. It had the set up of a restaurant, but the food was on a tray, and of similar quality to the food at the other schools we visited. After lunch, we went to a zoo and many of us were excited to see the pandas. Most of the animals were lying down and panting because of the heat, and rightfully so, as the temperature was about 96 Fahrenheit.

After an exciting couple of hours, we walked back to the orphanage to finish our service for the day. My group rotated to feeding the babies, which was difficult to say the least. One of the staff briefed us on some of the conditions that the kids suffered, and told us to not be too rattled by their appearances. The babies were lined up in the hallway and as we entered a few started to cry. Everybody chose a baby and we got to work. Although some of the babies were relatively cooperative, others were crying continually and not eating. Luckily, my baby began to eat after a bit of coaxing and patience. I used the “here comes the airplane!” tactic, which quite surprisingly works well. Many of the babies had cleft lips, which was off putting in terms of feeding them, but we managed and eventually the job was done.

After the feeding, we went into a room on the same floor, which served as their playroom. Some of the older toddlers that could walk and run were in a large pen that had a bunch of toys, and since so many GS students were with the babies, I decided to play in the pen. It ended up being a blast and I got a game of keep away going with a foam basketball, and they loved it.

My experience at the orphanage was notably different than the special needs school because of the disabilities of the children as well as their age difference. The feeding was a very straightforward job, but it put us in the uncomfortable position of being face to face with a child that looks very different than what we’re used to. At first, it really put me off, but after a few minutes I realized the baby girl I was feeding was no different than me, simply another human trying to survive in a world that can be harsh. If anything, I wanted to give these children the one on one attention and love they deserve and clearly yearn for. It was so fulfilling to see the smile on their faces as we played, or as they hung on my arms and climbed my back. They clearly had suffered from not only physical disabilities, but a lack of human touch. This is clearly some of the biggest areas of impact I, and my classmates, have accomplished during our time here, and I hope that impact lasts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty and Staff, Service, Students

Destiny is interviewed by a reporter from Yangzhou Evening News (扬州晚报)

Leave a comment

by | June 26, 2016 · 9:52 am

Last Day of Service at the Special Education School

Today was our last day at the school for the deaf and mentally disabled. After arriving on the campus, we took photos with some of the students and teachers in the school’s dining hall. We then went to the building where the administrators work and we had an arts and crafts class with some of the students. I worked with a nineteen-year-old that was quite intelligent, despite the physical and mental challenges she faced, and her knowledge of music and love for singing sort of surprised me. After doing arts and crafts, we wiped down all the chairs in the dining hall along with most of the walls. After eating lunch, we worked with two groups of deaf students. We were tasked with providing them help with making father’s day cards, which proved to be more challenging for the George School students who worked with the younger group of kids. Earlier in the day during one of our short breaks, we spent time learning sign language that was specific to China so that we could be of more help and better at communicating. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty and Staff, Service, Students

Service Trip Participants Highlighted in Local Chinese Paper

Picture

       The above article appeared in the local newspaper, after we spent two days at the Jiangdu Special Education School.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Faculty and Staff, Service, Students

Arleigh: Our Second Day at the Special Needs School

 We started off once again on our favorite bus. The bus was full of cards, laughter, and always sleep. The ride is never long enough as we pulled up to the special-needs school that we would be helping out at. Everyone was tired, but as soon as we saw the students we met the day before, our spirits were lifted. Today, we would be cooking with kids we had not yet had the chance to meet. My spirits were high, but I was nervous about the students ability to cook and my ability to help them. As we walked into the dining hall, the students had huge smiles on their faces and were filled with excitement.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Service, Students, Uncategorized

Last Day in Kayenta

by Lea ’17

Today was our last day in Kayenta. I  don’t think any of us could believe that our service trip was already over and that it was time for us to leave the reservation. Kayenta had become our home for the few weeks that we had been there, and it was very difficult for us to say goodbye to our host families and the community as a whole. We gathered up all of our luggage, substantially augmented by last minute gifts, and crammed everything into the suburbans. After our final farewells to our families and to Kayenta, we started on the long drive to Phoenix. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Service, Students