Alumni Spotlight: Kristen Phipps

Kristen Phipps is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. She enjoys reading, spending time with her family and anything history related.

volunteer children

Highlights: Well I have only been in China for about 2 months. But the highlight so far has been seeing the development of one child in my class. His name is Ryon. He is 3 and he is handicapped. When I first came to China, he did not participate at all. He simply walked around the classroom or would sit on a chair and stare into space. The last few weeks, Ryon has began to participate in class. He still wanders around a bit but he is participating. The biggest joy with him so far is that I said "Thank you" to him and he responded by saying "You're welcome". I was so happy!!! Most of the little kids will simply mimic whatever I say. So when I say "Thank you" to them they say "Thank you" back. So for Ryon to answer correctly was a big thrill. It isn't always the big things that make your day or your month... sometimes it is the little things!

Morning: For me the morning time is the busiest time of the day. I do all of my teaching in the morning. I have a short class for all of the kids. We generally sing songs or play a game. I then have class with the oldest group (the 5 year olds). After that class, I have class with the middle kids (the 4 year olds) and then I have class with the little ones (2 and 3 year olds). I use the same topic in each class but I modify the lesson to fit the particular age group. I try to use a wide variety of teaching methods to keep the kids interested and participating.

Afternoon: My afternoons are pretty free. I work in a Montessori school so the schedule is pretty loose. Most days we take the kids outside to a nearby park in the afternoon (after nap time). This time is spent by mainly watching the kids and helping them in any way. If we don't go outside, the kids will do individual work. Sometimes I will read books to the kids (I will read to them in English and sometimes the older kids will read to me in Chinese). I also play games with kids (on an individual basis). The afternoon is pretty free so it changes from day to day.

Evening: I have to admit that my evenings are pretty quiet and boring! It has been a hard adjustment for me. I do not speak Chinese so it really limits what I can do. It is very difficult to go out to eat or go shopping by myself. My favorite restaurants have pictures of their food on the walls and I can simply point at the item I want. But I will go shopping, make dinner (or go out to eat), surf the web, read. I do a variety of things but it isn't super exciting!