Friday morning we traveled to Zhongshan City, a small city of 3 million, the birth place of Sun Yat-sen, and my daughter. Our destination was the Zhongshan Children’s Welfare Institute at 8 Shashi Highway, which I have been looking at on google earth for months.
Shi Hui bounded in, ready to show us all the people she knew, all the rooms where she spent her life. It is difficult to reconcile her enthusiasm with the surroundings, and for this I can only credit all the caregivers. She leapt into the arms of each one, then explained to them, “Baba, Mama, Jei Jei.”
She wanted to show us her room and her empty bed, the room where she did homework, her kindergarten classroom and teacher, the pool (which is open 2 months of the year), and her seat in the dining room.
Then we ventured into her school. Once again, she took me by the hand and led me up three flights of stairs to her class. The teacher greeted us, and had Shi Hui take her old seat, then showed us a video of the class, and then led a lesson to show us how Shi Hui worked in class.
A note on the class. At some point in the past two years Shi Hui was moved into the special education school adjacent to the orphanage, primarily because of deficits or delays in math processing. She was the only girl in her class. The class was made up of students with a broad range of cognitive delays, deficits, and difficulties.
Shi Hui worked along in the lesson about families and buildings. The lesson was designed for written language recognition, but also to teach family roles. The teacher showed a photograph of a mother, home after a long day of work, and the daughter was giving her a massage. As if.
The teacher also showed us a file on our daughter, full of certificates, and some homeworks (A+).
At the end of the class, the teacher asked us to take pictures of her with us. She explained that she was happy that Shi Hui was going home with us to a place where she would get the support she needed as she grew up. She teared up as she told us this.