International Travels & Services

To Give Is Just to Gain, to Help the Others Is Just to Help Ourselves -- Shirley's America Travel Diary 105 & 496th Friendly Greeting - Sept 27, 2015

How are you?

Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival of China, it is the time that all of the family members have a reunion. I do hope you and all of the friends happy, lucky and have a good time with your family members in the beautiful moonlight...

Because I am in a travel in the USA, instead of taking part in a Mid-Autumn Festival party in a Chinese church, I got up at about 5:30am, to write to you and to summarize my work in the past one week.

This week, I have given 18 Chinese poetry lessons (17 at the 3 K-12 private schools and 1 at the library) to about 400 American students and adults; caught 3 times for 4 /16 hours of English lessons at OTC in the break between my 2nd and 3rd lessons at the K-12 schools; met two artists; studied Bible at a church once .

The strongest feeling from the teaching job is: To give is just to gain; to help the others is just to help ourselves.

Though I had suffered a lot since I started this international travel August 19, as soon as I went into the classroom to start my first lessons at St. Agnes School, then at Immaculate Conception School and St. Elisabeth Ann Seton School, I felt the happiest in my heart.

-- Once more, I felt it was worth to work on my little cross-cultural and comprehensive art project; and once more, I felt the value of my life among the lovely teenagers.

Every time, when I looked at their clear and pure eyes, heard they reciting and singing a classical poem in Chinese and in English with their cute activities loudly, told me that they have wanted to move to China and wanted to stay with me instead of leaving for the other classroom... especially, when I saw some of them could be able to tell me the sorts of Chinese paintings on content or on technique and their main characters; many of them wanted to have a solo to recite a Chinese poem... I did feel that any thing I had suffered was nothing and every hard time I had experienced was worthwhile.

-- I was quite excited at my 10th or 11th Chinese poetry lesson (143rd or 144th lesson since 2009), suddenly I felt that I had touched and maybe found a better method which is more efficient to help non-Chinese speakers to learn Chinese language in the process to learn Chinese poetry by the helping of music, paintings and so on.

That is: base on the multi-elements of a traditional Chinese painting, combine poetry, picture, calligraphy, music, language, literature and cultural background together, to show non-Chinese speaker a multi- dimensional art, to help them to learn Chinese language and culture in the process of enjoying and practicing the multi-culture and multi-art. However, now, I have adjusted my teaching way from just teaching them to recite and to sing a classical poem in Chinese to be: to lead them recite the poem which is on a painting in Chinese but sing it in English. It may be a better teaching way.

I found this method and had this idea in a totally casual moment – When I sang a Chinese poem in English for I wanted to help my non-Chinese speaker students to review the meaning of the poem they had just recited after I taught them to recite it for a while. Few, a few, many and then all of the students sang it with me together, and I felt they worked much easier than they sang it in Chinese.

Just like a ray sunlight shined into my mind, at once, I caught the new feeling and changed my teaching style in the 11st to 18th lesson and I got a very good result.

I do found the new teach method can help non-Chinese speaker students / native English speakers to recite a Chinese classical poem very quickly, efficiently in a more enjoyable emotion and many big smiles.

To be honest, since I started my first Chinese poetry course in Peckville High Central School in Kentucky, an American girl told me they wanted to sing in Chinese instead of English. I have been teaching non-Chinese speakers to recite and to sing the classical poem in Chinese until these days I have found the opposite style at St. Immaculate Conception School, Missouri State and got a very good result at St. Elizabeth Ann School and St. Agnes School...

I was so happy for the new find. In my heart is full of the appreciations to Mrs. Wanda Nava for her good recommendation, Mrs. Glad Eyerman for her wonderful organization jobs, the leaders of their schools for their good support in Missouri State: Superintendent D. Bruce Denny and Principal Brian Wilbanks of Seymour R-II Public School, Principal Paula Baird (she is on the first photo) of Immaculate Conception School, Principal Cheryl Hall St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School and Principal of St. Agnes School; the leaders and art teachers in Peckville, Kentucky State: City Manager Donovan Blackburn and the former Grant Administrator Leigh Ann Hughes of City of Peckville, Two Mrs. Smith Art teachers of Peckville High School and Peckville Elementary School and the art teacher of Peckville High Central School...

Just for their good help with their opening minds and foresight, both of their students and I have gotten so much benefit from our common study and exploration.

From this meaning, I do feel to give is just to gain, to help the others is just to help ourselves. All of the cost that I have paid on my travel, finance, time and health as an volunteer are all worth...

Anyway, sometimes, I had been soft and felt frustrations in the working process.

-- In the past a week, the most directed feeling was tired, so that the first thing I came back from work was to have a sleep.

-- The first emotional time was on Monday: I could not help weeping on the street at the moment I knew that I had lost the second opportunity to buy the house that was my favorite but disappeared online after I came to the USA, then it appeared last weekend, and I went to see it on Sunday and entrusted my agent to buy it at once... I did so love it so that I have planned how to use it to found the first Chinese art Gallery or Chinese Art Museum of Springfield... The second emotional time was on Tuesday noon, I could not help tearing once more in a taxi, when I rushed to my English classroom at OTC to catch a part of my English lessons between two Chinese poetry lessons for my students with an empty stomach and worn in a tight straitjacket with steel--wires inside to fix my low back and to control the sharp ache... Then I could not help weeping at any time and anywhere for whole of the night and day as soon as I thought of what I had suffered in the past several weeks so that I deeply missed my dead art and music teacher Mr. Charlie K. If he were still alive, he would certainly give me a hand...

However, I know the passed has passed, what I could do was only go forward...Even for my teacher's will, I should not give up, let alone it is a project can help many people now and in the future. So, I went into the washroom to wipe away the tears on my face and to smile to myself in the mirror before I went out of the washroom and went into the English classroom at OTC or the art classroom at the K-12 Schools...

Maybe just like people said, tears sometimes can help people to reduce their pressure inside, after weeping silently several times, I did feel much easier and now, some beautiful flowers have re-appeared in my living room ( no matter where I am, as long as I can, always I buy flowers for my rooms, flowers have become a part of my life ) and I have totally gone out of the bad emotion and have recovered my normal study, work and exploration with a positive and optimistic life attitude as usual.

Anyway, the biggest decision I have made this week, was to finish the entrusted contract and stopped waiting for the first house that I had given an offer and had signed the contract in the morning Sept 3, but was informed it has title problem and I would not be given a time frame how long I should wait for in the afternoon on the same day. Sicne then,every Thursday I asked once, and every time, I got the same answers three times already.

Then the biggest motivation that supported me to work hard with a big smile until the 18th lesson on Friday was the welcome from about 400 American students, Principals, work partners and friends... all of them made me feel what I have done and will do in their schools and the library are useful, helpful and meaningful.

Do you know? Besides the students in the school, more and more students have joined my Chinese poetry course at the library each Wednesday. Mrs. Carissa Garran whose daughter has been my students since 2013 has not only joined us twice in the library, gave me a ride when she could, but also, she would like to connect someone at the central library. Hopefully, we will be able to find a fixed room for my future poetry course and painting course there, after my art exhibition is finished at the branch library at 128, Parking Central since next Wednesday?

The Office Manager Caitlin Golike (she is on the third photo) of Springfield Region Art Council and I had a good talking by a casual meeting ( After giving 2, 4, 5, 5 lessons at the K-12 schools and the library on the first 4 days of the week, I was happy for I would have only two lesson Friday afternoon, so, I called a taxi to get some lessons at OTC in the morning. However, there was no anyone in the classroom for there was no lesson on Friday. On the road I walked back home, suddenly I realized the building I was walking by was just the Creamery Art Center – the place my first art exhibition was held in. Oh! my Godness! Though without any appointment, I walked into it randomly). She would like to help me and hopefully, I will have an appointment to have a talking with their executive director and their project managers some day. :- )

The good news was:

-- After attending one of my poetry lesson in person at the library, Ms. Vicki who is my English teacher at OTC would like to move one of her lessons to the library at 10:30am or Wednesday (Sept 30, 2015) Then, my classmates from Asia, South America, Europe and Africa will attend my art exhibition on the last day of it.

-- Mr. Xu Yixiong, the President of Jinan University Press (in Guangzhou) has responded me by a cell phone message: Jinan University Publishing Press would like to open an online system for me to work; they will also continue to work with me, to systemize our series books and DVDs – Poetry, Painting, Music – Comprehensive and Artistic Chinese ( With Me Together, To Lean Chinese Cultural and Language).

That means the publishing work of the second and more volumes of my series books and DVDs will be worked continuously in the near future. :-)

-- Mr. Lu Wenqing, my former tutor of Chinese Painting School at Chinese National Academy of Arts, and the current Director of Teaching Department of the Painting Academy at Capital (Beijing) Museum sent me a message: If I want to study in their academy, I will not need to pay any tuition, what I need to do is just to give them some of my paintings. No matter how long I will be able to study there, for whole of a class-year or a few of months, things will be done same.

-- Principal Paula Baird of Immaculate Conception School came to see me twice in my classroom and sent a pen to me as a memory.

-- Principal Cheryl Hall of Elizabeth Ann Seton School was so kind and made me think of a kind mother, she did not only ask Mrs. Glad Eyerman to look after their guest, but also she asked me whether I wanted a cup of tea, coffee, or a piece of chocolate with so much warmth and friendship...

-- Mrs. Chris August(she is on the second photo), an artist ,poet and an accountant of Headquarters of Assemble God, who recommended me to the Visual Artist Alliance of Springfield came to see me, showed me her paintings and sent her collection of poems to me.

-- Professor Qiao Yuhua and Mr. Zhao Yunfei who are from Missouri State University messaged me and asked me whether I needed a ride to go to their church.

-- My former classmate Zhu Bin and his wife helped me take back my check from my former agent and drove me to anywhere I want to go as long as I want on the weekend.

With a grateful heart, I went to the church where I was baptized, to study Bible Friday evening.

I would really like to thank the God and so many people who have helped me and cared for me on my long long dream seeking road. I would certainly go forward for helping more people in the world with the beautiful cross-cultural and comprehensive art dream. Try to improve myself in the process.

The closest target is to do my best to give the other at least 36 traditional Chinese painting lessons in the upcoming 2 weeks...

After all, to give is just to gain, to help the others is just to help ourselves. Do you think so?

How about you? Do you have anything special to share in the past one week?

Shirley Yiping Zhang
Sept 27, 2015 (American Local Time)

comments powered by Disqus