Weeping Willows & Golden Canola: China Report

After many ‘mini’ updates from the land of weeping willows and golden canola in my current placement at Tienfu Waldorf Steiner School I thought it was high time for a complete report on just what I’m up to over here in China!

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Tienfu Forest Farm (Waldorf) is just outside Chengdu in Southwest China. It is spring time now and the signature Weeping Willows are doing just that. Their long leaves are coming down in long “willowy” branches to touch the ground. There is a spring song of a woman letting down her hair, and her tears (the spring rain) runs down her hair to join the earth: heaven to earth, and the tears fertilize the earth with her love.

It is a fascinating opportunity to be in this budding school: one full kindy, 1 small mixed ages one, a parent child group; bustling parent education groups and CLasses 7,8,9 “on campus” with primary to come in the new school year in September 2015.

My job is specifically to work with the Early Childhood in all respects. Observing, reflecting, mentoring and “setting an example” I am doing while enjoying the children, teachers and parents too.

Biodynamic Agriculture teaching is also my mandate. I have the pleasure of creating many gardening opportunities with children and teachers, children and parents, just parents, office staff and teachers, and Class 9 youth and their Farmer teacher too.

It is exciting to be learning about the soil and rock here on this hilly spruce, bamboo and fruit tree property. There are fields of Canola, potatoes, broad beans, snow peas, cabbage, lettuce, eggplant and peanuts too.

Many of the adults I work with have come from rural lives but have never “worked the land” themselves. Land is not available for “purchase” in China, only for development so much rural land becomes HIGH RISES and supportive industry.

As in all Waldorf kindergartens there is an emphasis on “meaningful work” in addition to lots of Free Play time. These children are busy cleaning tables and chairs and dishes and floors and making food too. The school kitchen provides the rice, vegetables and soup daily, but the children prepare their snacks of fruit and nuts and “do cooking” one day a week too.

A particular highlight of my time here is working on festivals within this very different cultural context to which I am used to.  The ancient Chinese festival of The Sweeping of the Tombs coincided with the western Easter festival and I had much fun with the teachers here finding the similarities between the deeper meanings of each one. The story I told to the 200 parents and children present before the Easter Egg hunt was called The Easter Hare Legacy for Tienfu Forest School.

I’ll continue to post more updates and images as they come from my very special time over here in China.

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