Sunday, April 17, 2016

Shanghai Advocacy Camp Day Two!

Oh what a day the second day with the kids from Shanghai was!!!  Words cannot do today justice.  We were supposed to be going strawberry picking with the ten or so kids that were the official advocacy camp group, but we were rained out.  Instead we took a bus to an indoor children’s recreation area called “10” or “Perfect”.  On the way there I played with Jack & Helen, broke up fights between them (they are like a brother & sister in every since of the word!) and just sat there smiling as I saw their sweet times of interaction.

Once we got there it was all smiles and excitement!!  The older kids who’d been pretty conservative during day one and hadn’t seem all that happy just lit up when we walked into this place.  THIS was something they were definitely into!!  We started off in an indoor playground area, the kind you really only see in China, with ball pits and water obstacles and toy cars to ride around on and little soft spinning carnival type rides. 

Then we headed over to an area where each kid got to make their own cotton candy stick, spinning it around in the floss.  Like most kids I know, this was a hit with them all and the only thing they like more than making it themselves is eating it themselves and going back for seconds!!!  After this they sugared them up even more as they got to “make” their own ice cream.

So, making no sense to me at all, we then took the fully sugared up kids and asked them to sit down and do some art projects!! LOL

During this time I was working with my buddy Jack, the little guy with low vision.  I don’t know if it was his silly personality, the fact that he spoke English, or both, but I just loved this kid!!!  These projects were particularly difficult for him because of his low vision.  He has one spot on his eye that he can see out of, so he has to pick things up and put them right in that line of sight to be able to see them.  It was amazing to watch him lift things up where he could see them and then work on the project.  Being the silly kid he is, he kept telling me how hungry he was and since I didn’t have his lunch to feed him he kept threatening he was going to eat me.  This went on and on for about an hour, Jack telling me he was hungry and “I’m going to eat YOU!!!” and me telling him “No, no!! Don’t eat ME!  I’m not FOOD!!” and him pretending to eat me and all that.  As I saw he was starting to get a little bored with the project I pulled out a chocolate chip granola bar and asked him if he’d ever had one.  He said yes, so I offered him the bar.  The look on his face as he took the first bite was so cute.  It was like he’d just tasted the most delicious thing he’d ever had.  He completely focused in on eating this granola bar and finally looked up for a second and told me, “I don’t want to eat you anymore.  I want to eat this!  I won’t eat you, I like you.” LOL!!! This kid is so awesome!!! I’ve GOT to help him find his family!!!

After the projects came the main event for most of the kids… Baking with the Chef!!

We all put on our aprons and the kids got fully dressed and ready to bake some cookies and cakes.  The chef was just amazing with the kids.  He even brought the eggs closer to Jack so he could be sure Jack saw them too.  This is the part where the older ones just really reminded us that they were typical 9-11 year olds through and through.  This was right up their alley.  They LOVED it.  Even Hunter, who had been so careful not to let people see his hand deformity, became absolutely unapologetic as he used his hand to push down the cookie cutter and make those cookies!

After the baking was done the older kids just surrounded the chef to ask him questions and play with him.  It was a great thing to see how well-adjusted these older kids actually are when placed in an environment that they are excited about with someone who speaks their language.  I think it provided us all with a little more understanding of how these children will do with a family in America once they adjust.

We thought it was time to go at this point as we headed down the stairs, but this is actually where our #becausechina moment started to unfold.  As we walked into the parking lot they had us make a right instead of a left and we found ourselves at a goldfish pond.  I assumed we were there to feed or see the pretty goldfish. 

I was wrong.  They handed the kids little carriers and small nets and told them to catch some goldfish.  What???? I looked over at the international director for the orphanage and asked her if this was okay and she assured me it would be fine.  But as a mom, I could see that this was going to be a terrible idea.  We had an hour-long bus ride to get back to the orphanage & foster families.  There was a walkway you needed to go out on to catch a fish and my buddy was way too vision impaired to be out on that walkway by himself!!! This was just the craziest, funniest, most chaotic thing I may have ever done!!!  Kids catching fish and leaves and more fish and more leaves.  Goldfish being dropped on the ground before being picked up and put into their new tiny home.  At one point one of the older girls picked out a larger almost belly-up fish and stuffed him by hand to make her too big fish fit into her carrier!!!!  (Thankfully some ladies stepped in and gave her some guidance that the too-big fish needed to go back into the pond J)  Then one sweetie FELL INTO THE POND face first next to me!!! So I’m holding onto my little almost blind buddy whose leaning over the side on one side of me and I’m trying to help another child as two ladies try to get her out of the 5 inches of water!!! Somehow she was fully wet on both sides from head to toe in dirty, fishy water!! Poor thing!!  Once all the kids had caught, with our help, 4 fish each we headed to the bus.  As they walked, fishy water splashed out of the carriers onto them, but they didn’t care!!! They were ALL grinning from ear to ear SO proud of their newest little friends!!!  And as you might expect… Two kids dropped their fish carriers onto the floor of the bus with fish and water going everywhere.  Our team members scooped up the fish, put them back in the carrier, and they were refloated with bottled water ;) !!

What a funny, memorable day this was!! The kids all had a blast, the advocates all had a blast, and as we pow-wowed with the Superkids team that night there were shrieks of laughter as we retold the tales of the day!!  What a wonderful day that I will never forget!!!!

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