The summer vacation is a period when Chinese parents sign their children for a myriad of summer programs. 10 students and one adult refused to settle for summer programs based in China. They signed up for a one-month long summer program organized by Guangdong Xicheng Education.
Mr Bill Rao, current student at Harvard and camp organizer, designed this one-month program to be an immersive experience. During the daytime from Monday to Friday, the students attend intensive English lessons at The New England School of English (NESE) at Cambridge, Boston. In the evening and during the weekends, they were shown the Boston way of life. Watching a Red Sox game at Fenway, touring the Harvard and MIT campus, and shopping at Assembly Row were some of the highlights. Yet, Mr Rao felt there is a need for these students to connect with the community. A Lions Club signboard planted along Fellsway led one of the student leaders to meet Miss Noreen Begley, the Vice President of Somerville Lions Club. During the short meetup of two hours, Miss Begley coordinated a session for the students to participate in.
Every month, seniors gather at the Somerville Lions Club located at the Ralph and Jenny Memorial Building at 9 Washington Street. During the session, food hampers are being prepared and distributed to the seniors. Many of them will stay and mingle. They play card games and Bingo and be served barbequed food for lunch. This session is put together and operated by Lion Club volunteers. Miss Begley felt that the session will be a great opportunity for the students to serve.
On the day of the event, the students arrived at the venue at 8am. After the instructional brief, the students went about with the tasks. Boxes of groceries were unloaded from the food truck and unpacked for further sorting. The unpacked content was then placed into paper baskets ready to be picked up by the seniors. By 9am, the preparatory work was completed, and everyone was ready to receive the guests. The students greeted the seniors warmly and helped carry the heavy food hampers to their vehicles. The students had a great opportunity to practise their conversational English as they interacted with the seniors and played games with them.
Lunch was served around noon and everyone dined together. It was a pity the students had to leave after lunch to return to lessons. At the end of the session, the resounding applause given was testimony that the seniors enjoyed the Chinese students’ company very much. The event inspired one student Jiarong Song to set up a Leos Club in Dalian, China. Another adult participant Weina, Xu felt that she could gather some friends to set up Lions Club in Hangzhou to serve the community. This was a very short but meaningful session of young meeting old and east meeting west.