Our first class was tonight. We had the men’s and women’s academy in class together tonight because the men’s facilitator is not here yet. We are preparing the students to present their projects at the Women’s Symposium May 16-17. They are very nervous. This is really a big step for these students. We expect about 4000 people to attend the Symposium. There will be breakout sessions for speakers who are coming from all over China and the U.S. These presentations are the culmination of what the students have learned and done on their projects all year long.
When I asked them who was nervous they all raised their hand. I asked what they were nervous about. What if I can’t say my words clearly, maybe I will look dumb, I will freeze and not be able to speak, I am afraid to make eye contact, I am afraid of so many people looking at me. These are some of their fears. We had them break up into their groups and start planning some attention getters and ways to leave their audience with something in their heart.
One of the groups is called Sunshine Angels. They go to the school for disabled children one day a week to do art projects with the hearing impaired and play games with the mentally handicapped. When the student stood up to give his attention getter it brought tears to my eyes. He said “If you share your heart with the children who cannot hear, speak or think clearly you will see they have angel’s wings on their backs. We at Sunshine Angels feel like they bring sunshine to our lives and we can fly with them when we share our love with them.”
Another group called Warm Hearts collects clothing for children in the villages. Her attention getter was “warm hearts make the world warmer”. She said they have been able to collect clothing for 6 villages or more and have felt so good knowing these children are warmer in the winter. Another statement she made was “no more cold toes!”
I love the whole premise of the Academy. We are teaching leadership skills the students can use in all walks of life but they are applying them to a service project. Their hearts are touched and they have been so inspired by the experiences they have had it has changed their lives.
They have changed my life. My perspective of things changes every time I come here. I get to see shy, quiet Chinese students pushing through their fears to make a difference in the lives of those around them in a big way. It is so rewarding to hear them talk about what they have done this past year and how it has impacted their lives and changed them. It makes me want to be a better me. I have a desire to be more kind, gentle and aware of those around me. That’s how I see these students.