China: Day 7 – May 23

Written by: Michaela Yonto

Dr. Li smiling at podiumOne week down, one to go. And what an incredible, eye-opening week it has been. Today, May 23, was the day that all of us had been looking forward to for a long, long time — Dr. Li’s Simple Interactions Workshop. This was something that all of us working with Simple Interactions had always heard about, but never experienced in person. Over the years, we have been hearing and watching the almost unbelievable stories from the village in Qingdao — stories of women with hearts too full to describe doing everyday actions to help better the lives of the children who come to their center — and today it was becoming a reality. The day started off as usual—breakfast and lots of yogurt — then it was time for the fun to begin. Come 9:00 am we were all in our seats ready for the workshop to begin. The previous night we were all up much later than usual for this trip going through videos and discussing what we had seen, so I think we were eagerly waiting to see how the workshop would play out and how the team’s hard work would come together. There were two parts of this workshop — the first session being directed toward teaching the staff and visiting workers about the foundations of Simple Interactions, and the second allowing the staff to watch videos of themselves interacting with the children and learn from what they were seeing. Watching the audience’s reactions during the workshop was so profound to see. These people, who from observing them throughout the previous days, were the most caring individuals I had probably ever met, were not prideful of their tremendous work here at the center, but were utterly humble and eager to expand their knowledge of child care. If it so happened that one of the staff members was shown in one of the clips, she didn’t take that as her moment of glory, but from what I saw, each staff member was filled with pure joy and love — so happy and excited that they could help care for and love these children. I could really notice their excitement to learn throughout the workshop. Every one of the staff members was ready to go with pen and paper in hand, making note of any and every bit of knowledge they thought would be beneficial to them, and therefore, beneficial to the children. It was a really special sight.  This was, I thought, the perfect environment to showcase Simple Interactions. Saint Vincent group in China SchoolA place bursting to the seams with such pure love and desire to make each child’s world better. After the workshop had ended, we all had the opportunity to have a small roundtable discussion with all of the staff members, and what a marvelous time that was. If it wasn’t clear how much everyone in this village loved and respected everything Dr. Li has done before, oh my goodness, could you feel that energy now. They had so many questions — nearly everyone had a story or an inquiry about something they were worried about. And the crazy thing was that they not only wanted Dr. Li’s opinion, but ours as well! That nearly blew my mind away. I couldn’t even imagine myself teaching these amazing women anything after seeing how much I had learned from them just in a few simple days in the village. But of course, everybody was happy to chime in and give any bit of advice they thought would be helpful, and the staff genuinely appreciated it and were really grateful for all the contributions made. It was a long day, especially considering that we couldn’t understand a majority of the workshop because we don’t speak Chinese, but I for one, felt like I had learned so much just from being in that room. The passion and ideas were practically bouncing off the walls and it was impossible not to feel completely a part of the entire experience. We ended the day with a seafood feast! So many different types of food, and all so fresh! Some were braver than others and tried things like jellyfish and mantis shrimp — I was too scared to try that one because it looked too much like either a BIG bug, or a small dragon . . . either way, I couldn’t do it. Anyway, to conclude this long post, this whole day was a phenomenal way to really see into the heart of Simple Interactions and see head on how “professional” resources and complex activities are not necessary to have a beneficial outcome on a child’s life.

Sincerely yours,

Michaela Yonto

Psychology Major/Children Studies Minor

Fred Rogers Scholar

SVC ‘19

Saint Vincent group with Chinese school staff


Dr. Li's workshop


Saint Vincent group with Chinese teachers


Dr. Li presenting