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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