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Confucius Institute

Our day at Landgate School in Wigan

3 March 2016

During Chinese New Year 2016, our team had the chance to conduct brush painting, calligraphy and tai chi workshops at Landgate School for Autistic Children in Wigan.

The Confucius Institute has been offering Chinese Language and Cultural taster sessions to local schools since 2009 and has brought opportunities to children that have allowed them to explore something new and gain important skills. During Chinese New Year 2016, our team had the chance to conduct brush painting, calligraphy and tai chi workshops at Landgate School for Autistic Children in Wigan. Despite the added challenges of dealing with disabilities at various levels, our Volunteer teachers showed great dedication and made the day a success. Teachers of the schools provided positive feedback, especially on the way the teachers were able to communicate well at the level needed for the ability of the students.

We can only applaud our teachers for taking this challenge as non-native English speakers with no special training or experience in dealing with children with special needs. Four of our teachers share their reflections:

‘I kept telling myself, just be patient and try to see through the child’s eye, then you will not find it too hard to communicate with them. They were children, but they were also teachers to me. I learned that we don't know much about the world, that there are a lot of corners we can’t see. You need to explore that in order to find a way to give children the chances they deserve because every child shines in their own way. - Xianwen He

‘The experience of delivering tai chi lessons to autistic children in the UK was special and unforgettable to me. The children tried to do the gentle soothing tai chi movements together with me when the soft music was on, although it was a little bit hard for some of them to learn it. You could see how this kind of Chinese martial art could bring these children peace of mind and physical relaxation.’ - Wei Wang

‘This is the first time for me to teach children with special needs and it was an unforgettable and meaningful experience. We tried to let them ‘feel’ China and Chinese culture by using different methods and activities such as telling them a story, singing a song, making decorations, making lucky pockets and wearing Chinese costumes. The smiles and their own learning response were the best feedback.’ - Xing Li

‘If I didn’t go to Landgate, maybe I would have never had this opportunity to teach children with special needs. I would also never have known that you could achieve such a positive response by giving a warm hug, a friendly smile, or even just direct eye contact. I deeply felt grateful and satisfied when I saw their happy faces, which has made my job of being a Chinese teacher so much more meaningful.’ - Xuan Cao

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