Saturday, March 29, 2008

Juggling for Deaf Chinese Kids

A lot of the American families here home school their kids, so they have time to go do fun service projects. I was invited to go with them to visit a deaf school. The idea was basically just to go and make the kids feel loved, and since I could juggle, I would give them a show.

Our class tried to take our final that morning and failed miserably. Our teacher had included tons of words that we had never seen before, which she hoped we would just be able to ignore without missing much from the passage. Our panicked stares convinced her otherwise, and she spent the time we were supposed to be taking the test reading out loud all the passages and telling us what it meant.

I was in the mood to do something else, then, and so I did. We took a charter bus to the school, since there were about thirty American kids going total. I sat amid a large group of middle-aged Western moms—something I don't think I've done before in China.

The firsts were just beginning. When we got to the school we were told that if we enunciated clearly, the deaf kids would be able to lip-read our Chinese. I thought it was so strange that I didn't have to think about my pronunciation that I don't think I really talked to them all that much. The kids didn't need much verbal communication. They were all younger elementary kids who just wanted to hold your hand and run around while you tried to play games with them and paint their faces. Here's a picture of me and this one kid. In the background you can see we were trying to play dodgeball, but the kids didn't quite understand and thought they were supposed to catch the ball, not dodge it.

Eventually it was time to gather them all in the cafeteria and let them see me juggle. Afterward they were going to get a snack, so I was lucky to have their attention. It was really interesting juggling for an audience that I couldn't talk to, but having to be so dramatic when I do my teaching job had worked up the actor in me and I did all kinds of goofy gestures and expressions.

I also got the audience involved as much as I could. Here's a picture of me about to unicycle around the five kids I had arranged into an obstacle course. The kid in the front was concentrating so much on standing rigidly that it looked like he was facing death itself. It was just me, though, in a pink shirt.

And then our time was over, we said goodbye to all the little kids we had met, and boarded the buses again. It was a pretty good time.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful opportunity, Will, for both you and the kids.
Good for you!

katiepenguins said...

Aww, that looks like so much fun!

Aunt Gwen said...

I remember when you were just a little kid (at the beach I think)trying to learn to juggle. Who would have thought that your talent would benefit you across the world!

Sheri said...

that poor kid must've been terrified :)

Mel said...

that was me down there, not mom.