TESTIMONIALS FROM CHINA

CHINA

“Of all the teachers we have had here in 8 years the student have learned most from you. In addition to teaching them of nature and children and teaching, you have taught them of their own Chinese land and culture.” (Li Yen- Founder of Phoenix Academy)

“Before your teaching I did not know how to play. Know I know how to play and how to play with children. I will practice a lot because I know how important it is. Thank you Sandra.” (Student, 27)

“You have taught us freedom to think and draw and tell stories. That what we do is important. This is a new way of education for us. Now we can share that way with the children. We did not know another way until now. You are the best teacher we have ever had because you help us care for ourselves.” (Student, 23)

“No one has ever listened to us before. They were not interested. Now I know what it feels like to be listened to and understood. Now I know how to do that for the children. Thank you Sandra.” (Student, 18)

“You treated us as equals, none of us better than the other. Each voice was as important as the other and through role playing a potential complex problem at camp I have learned what it feels like to be a different point of view to my own. This was really powerful for me. Thank you.” (Student, 20)

“I was afraid of communicating with other people before I came to this training. I am not afraid any more. I enjoyed sharing my stories and pictures. An outstanding memories for me of this week was when you said we are not just the teacher, we are the farmer and doctor and artist too. I am really excited to think of my work this way. Thank you.” (Counsellor, 30)

“I’ve been to a few nature training with children sessions. They are boring and just about the rules that children must follow. We don’t learn about what to do with children. Now I have some ideas of what to do with children and then there is not much need for rules.” (Student, 22)

“I have learned the most important thing is to make a rainbow bridge between myself and the child. I know how to do this with all of the children now. Thank you for teaching me how to make friends. You are my best friend and teacher. Thank you.” (Worker with abandoned children, 27)

“I never thought I would make a doll out of thing air, or create a powerful and unconstrained story, or draw something on a piece of white paper, because previous education has always been missing this piece. When I look at these, I feel a sense of achievement and think I overcame this fear, not just communication with a foreign teacher, but to create something takes courage. I think the teacher’s education succeeded, because with such courage I might change my attitude to life and how I handle things.” (Student, 23)

STORY MEDICINE FOR ALL WORKSHOP

ADULT EDUCATION

Increase your ability as a Teaching Healing Professional (Doctor, Psychologist, Nurse, Counsellor) Teacher, Parent, Advisor

Teaching- Nourishing Story Making and Story Telling Certified Course                   

Since the beginning of time humans have told stories by word and  by artistry to teach and to help each other. We have learned our place in the world through stories.

Recently this longtime tradition has been broken through industrialization and digitalization. Many of us now rely on media or an expert to tell the stories in our lives. Many of us do not believe that “our story” is worth telling.

We are in a crisis in our families because we have lost connection with our roots, with ourselves. WHO are We? Who am I? WHere do I belong? Where do I come from? Where am I going? How will I get there? How can I help?

As a medicine, Stories offer direction and support through their innate wisdom. We can feel ourselves “Grow Up” when we hear and understand the message in a story. When we are told a story, our hearts beat in the rhythm of the storyteller. This has a calming and an exciting affect on our health and well being. What a powerful tool the storyteller has! Certain stories endure as “survival tools” that strengthen resilience whatever our age or status. Stories that explain the extraordinary mysteries of life link our world’s cultures in commonality. Stories can be like “a miracle” (Wo de Tien a) to managing our own and the behavior of others. We may understand what we are doing “wrong”, how we can correct our lives by correcting our behavior or our attitude. STORIES are a FUN way to learn. Laughter in itself is a wonderful medicine.

You will be guided to discover the wisdom in metaphor and mystery in myth while enjoying drama and puppetry in this 3 day active workshop that will enrich your skills as a creative storyteller and healer. YOU will develop the ability to create  teaching -healing  stories for yourself and others.

Outline: 

Through physical activity  (games and exploration of our senses) we establish ourselves individually and with others in the  “social realm”. WILLING

Through Soul engagement (stories and acting) we experience the expression of others and we practice expressing our feelings and thoughts in the” emotional realm”. : FEELING

Through Intellectual stimulation ( imagination and factual ) we apply our minds to creative challenges : THINKING

This balanced  program offers us the ability to change ourselves and others.

Learning Outcomes of this 3 day course:

Develop a “toolbox” of many stories, songs, games  and activities for use with your family, friends, students, clients.

Develop confidence to share meaningful stories with colleagues

Develop ability to express impressive imagination by drawing, acting, and writing true and fictional stories.

Develop ability to make and use powerful puppetry in storytelling.

Develop knowledge for the study of Biography to understand our individual and collective destinies.

Proposed Schedule: 

9:30-10:30 Warm ups (including Goethean observation) ,  Hearing  Stories: sharing meaning through action, drawing, writing, speaking

10:30-11:00 Replenishment Break

11-12:30 Theory of story creating, uses for different ages and stages: Examples of teaching and healing stories both original and traditional  (including Chinese Stories)

12:30-2:00 Lunch and rest break

2:00-3:00 Artistic development project: (Alone or with others): writing a story, making a puppet show or other dramatic representation; presenting this to the group (This can be a cumulative process over the 3 days)

3:00-3:15 Replenishment Break

3:15-4:15 Story sharing circle practicing oral story telling

4:15-5:00 Review and questions

Sandra is an inspiring qualified teacher  and an  intuitive group facilitator.  She  will guide you to develop skills in creativity and expression.  She has been happily teaching 100’s of grateful people of all ages for more than 30 years in many parts of the world including China. Sandra is a trusted leader with a Bachelor of Child Study Degree (Canada) and a Masters in Education ( Columbia University NY).

Sandra creates and tells stories for small groups and large: “ Cultural Festivals” too (including a Qi Ming Festival.) A long time student of story writing/telling  and Drama therapy, her adult stories were regularly featured on radio in Australia. There, she is a valued member of a Professional Storytellers Circle.  Two of her stories are published in Chinese and other languages. For 12 weeks earlier this year she worked outside Chengdu with the Tianfu Forest School teachers, staff, parents supporting their development as Waldorf Educators and Biodynamic Agriculturalists.

Sandra has also offered the Chengdu community successful workshops on “Nature based Education”,  “ Creating with the Power of Stories “, “Professional Development” for Teachers and “ Benefits of Singing for your Family“ for Parents.  These were described as “transformative and amazing”, by participants. In July 2015 Sandra led two nature based camps for children and teachers and parents outside Beijing and Baotou and was appreciated for her energetic and skillful dedication.

STORYTELLING WORKSHOP TIANFU

CHINA

“Teach us some of the songs you sing Sandra”, came the request from the Parent body. Quickly we arranged that it would be the morning of the 1st year celebration of Tianfu Forest (Aspiring) Waldorf School. We sang on the school pathway where all the children could see us as they enjoyed their outdoor playground time.

The American Spiritual “This Little light of Mine ; Romi Agam Rom’s “ I am flying I am flying I am flying adorned with wings of light” and then Hafiz’s “ The sky where we live is no place to lose your wings: SO LOVe LOVe LOVE x2” (to Belinda Pagden’s tune).

While we flew about a circle singing in English and then in Chinese (immediately translated), we knew that we were making some kind of magic out there at Tianfu.

We stopped, in silence and awe we heard “COOOOO, COOOO, COOOO” from across the fields and in the nearby forest. So we sang again, and then heard “COO COOO COOO. ”

“Wo de Tien Ah” (Chinese for “OH my heavens “) rang out with our laughter and sparkly tears.

Then to the puppet show I was putting on for the children in the grove by their playground. A last before my leave taking after 3 months with this beloved Tianfu community. The parents had rehearsed the theme song “Seed Seed Tiny Seed” with me so the children were truly held by our encircling. They joined in too, all in English.

After the puppet show we sang our way to the “Storying Room”, (so named because we had first used this room the week before for our 3 day Storying Workshop. ) This room was a purpose built restaurant above the campus kitchen. I thought it would be perfect for a lounge sort of ambiance with large red and gold pillows on the red carpeted floor and so it became our singing and laughing and gaming and storying refuge for the Storying workshop and now this Singing Episode.

We decided together what would be appropriate for our last hour of singing. I introduced Shea Darwin’s “Healing Healing Water” song and we acted out in pairs how we might comfort a child or be comforted as a child with this song. The absurdity of adults sitting on each others laps had us rollicking . When we tickled as one tickles a child, we were weeping with merriment.

The one male present had been taking photos but it was insisted that he join in the our fun. He was “rushed” by elegantly dressed ladies who had completely lost their composure in the lesson.

I told a Native American story from Nancy Mellon’s “ Body Eloquence” that encourages celebration for depressing times. We walked a circle saying “HO “ as we beat our chests and stomped for emphasis. The chef and his assistants preparing lunch in the kitchen below us responded by beating their massive woks in unision.

Again we were crying laughing while practicing the importance of observing the wonders of LIFE.

I suggested that these songs are good for taking our children (AND ourselves) out of melancholia and into “moving on”. It is important to acknowledge our own and our children/family/friends’ pain and suffering. It is important that we learn how to get out of that state. Too much sympathy may be inappropriate.

Practicing increasing our heart rates by tickling, pounding our chest, stomping and creating music is a key to healing. As educators (parents are educators too) we must be committed to this task. Most people in the world are suffering a personal grief and then there is the grief for their families, their people, and their gender.

Depression and related illnesses are in epidemic quantities. Suicide of men and increasingly younger people are distressing themselves. We all have a responsibility to address this global malady. Learning how to cope with a child’s distress is a good start!

We ended our meaningful and lively session with “Off we go on our ponies” : Riding in a circle and “Whoa Whoa Whoa” . It was evident who the horsewoman was among us! She held her reins “just so” as she cantered with a straight back around the circle. This is a good song for getting children from one place to another. The often difficult “Transition”.

Children are well contained because there is this “riding off into space “ and then a built in “stopping of the horse”. Obviously this is a good song for teaching “self imposed discipline” too. The children are not galloping off chaotically. There is out- breathing and in -breathing to end.

A group hug ended our session and we look forward to more fun another time.

COMPOSTING AT TIANFU

CHINA

It is with such gratitude and fulfilment to write about the completion of our first ever batch of compost at Tianfu! As so many of us know, compost is everything. In both the physical and the energetic sense we are doing good transformative work here from the ‘ground up’ at this exciting young Waldorf Forest School & it is such a pleasure to be a part of it!

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WINTER HARVEST AT TIANFU

CHINA

On Saturday November 14 2015 the families and staff of Tianfu Forest Waldorf School gathered together to wholeheartedly participate in an agricultural opportunity. We discussed weather pressure systems, dug rich compost into the orange clay for our winter beds and harvested sweet potatoes and taro from our very successful Spring planting

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MONGOLIA NATURE & DRAMA CAMP

MONGOLIA

As a group we faced our fears of nature and the unknown on our first ever Inner Mongolia nature and drama camp for 6-11 year olds.

For the first time in their lives many of the children experienced hiking a mountain, dangling their feet in fresh icy mountain streams, bonding around the campfire and playing in ” natural sand” conditions . What a privilege to introduce them to the elements. We claimed Eco warrior status as we picked up rubbish wherever we explored: hills, grasslands and sand dunes.
Meal blessing and meeting Mongolian Grasslands hosts after our cooking lesson

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WEEPING WILLOWS & GOLDEN CANOLA: CHINA REPORT

CHINA

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!

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.

SWEEPING OF THE TOMB FESTIVAL IN CHINA

CHINA

This Easter Sandra took part in the ancient Chinese festival of Qing Ming or ‘Sweeping of the Tomb’ where she also discovered a surprising and ancient appearance of the egg! Sandra was asked as a “resident” festival creator, Waldorf educator, community developer and storyteller to support an  “EASTER Egg Hunt ” component of the Tomb Sweeping Festival and read more to hear her special Easter Story especially written for this Chinese Festival.

Bunny Sandra

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Tomb sweeping has been included in the Qing Ming (said Sheee ming) festival for more than 2000 years. AND the EGGS were also part of festivities. They were put at the top of a stream and the lucky lovers who caught an egg at the bottom of the stream would have good luck in reproducing children. However, it seems most Chinese don’t know about this and so though BEAUTIFUL hand painted eggs are sold in their artisan markets, the “egg practise” is no longer included in the “Tomb Sweeping” festivities. With all this in mind, Sandra created the following story to support the significance of the HARE as the deliverer of eggs in the Christian tradition. Of course the HARE is also revered by Buddhists for the ability to self sacrifice for others. The wisdom of the source of fertility which is celebrated in “honouring what has past that now functions as good fertiliser for what is to be born under the potent light and nourishing forces of moon and sun in cycling together. Look to the skies for wisdom of earth.  

 
In her story she relays that when the hands are held together as in prayer,  it is the shape of the egg and grain and budding leaf or blossom. Thus the two pillars of “Gratitude and Love” are emblazened in the deed of the HARE’s  gifting  of eggs.  They are symbolically and true-ly,  full of the golden sun held in the white of the moon. 

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