In November Terry travelled to the Wenzhou Special School where a wood carving program has been set up by Master Gao, one of the most important carvers in China and a wonderful gentleman. He helped establish start a woodturning program at the school to start in March 2014.
The staff and students of Wenzhou school welcome Terry and IWCS staff.
What a privilege to meet such wonderful people!
Away from the formal welcomes Terry found himself at the center of a mass of excited
children who wanted to show him around. They are all deaf, but it didn’t matter – they are used to
communicating through barriers and the smiles said it all. It was one of the best days of Terry’s life.
Last year I visited Wenzhou Special School in China. It is a beautiful environment and the students are like an enormous family, well cared for by devoted staff. I had obtained support from the AAW for a turning program to be set up for the deaf children and the AAW team were able to visit after World Wood Day to start this program. Vicmarc Machinery of Australia donated a lathe and grinder, Tormek of Sweden provided a sharpening system, and the Woodturning Store in the USA donated sets of turning tools. With the volunteer teachers from three countries, it was a truly international project.
The Principal of Wenzhou Special School, Mr Li,
and the students admire work that Bonnie Klein demonstrated for them.
Last year I was “adopted” by a wonderful young student at the school named Xiaowen. She took charge of me and showed me all around the school, holding my hand in a fiercely possessive grip. Although these students can speak neither English nor Chinese, they are wonderful communicators, and Xiaowen was able to let me know what she was thinking without any problems. I left my email address with her and, to my delight, when I arrived home there was a message from her in English. She told me I reminded her of her grandfather and how happy she was to have met me. Over the coming months she wrote regularly to me, often saying “Good morning grandfather, did you sleep well?” She told me of her life and kept asking when I would return. On the first day of our visit after WWD, I gave a speech to the gathered school and told them the story of how Xiaowen and I had been writing to each other. To my amazement, she became an instant celebrity with the other students and staff. Nobody knew she had found out by herself how to contact me on the internet and how to write in English. We were visited by newspaper reporters and interviewed for television programs, and her prestige grew daily. Other students started shyly offering their contact details to the rest of the foreign visitors, signing “Will you be my internet friend?” It was an experience I can’t imagine having in the West. There is such love and trust among these students – something that has been lost in many countries. It speaks so well of the school and the amazing staff.
It gave me so much pleasure to introduce Xiaowen to a long-time friend of mine, Zina Burliou of Romania. Xiaowen is a gifted paper carver and Zina is a master of traditional Romanian folk carving. Zina said she has never had such a quick student and it felt so good to watch their heads bowed together over fine work. It is maybe the best thing I have achieved in China. I hope to see them working together more in future.
Xiaowen with Zina Burliou.
Adam with a friend who looked after him.
He is now the proud owner of Adam’s bowl.