It was 10 o’clock on March 9, 2012 when several visitors from another planet landed at Xinli School for Migrant Children in Picun Village, in the migrant community of Dongba in north-east Beijing. These intrepid explorers from the world of Gulugulu were King Chacha and some other brilliant Gulugulunians, who had come to invite the children of Xinli School to join their expedition team to other worlds. Would the children follow King Chacha? What adventures would lie ahead of them, and would they find the treasures the galaxy needed?
Signalling the start of this year’s Children’s Education Programme, Hua Dan’s team created a fantasy world in an ordinary classroom; within five minutes, the children had boarded the spaceship and left Earth, starting a 30-minute hunt for off-world treasures. They went to Planet Mao Mao, Planet Tang Tang, Planet Ya Ya and Planet Xin Xin, meeting all kinds of alien residents — ship-fixers, lollipoppers, trash-monsters, and many more. Every one of the sixty 9–14-year-olds was fully devoted to the performance, enjoying their journey to the fullest extent.
A week after the show, Hua Dan conducted workshops to discuss the themes and issues raised in the performance. The first workshop was for students in the third grade to discuss the ship-fixers from Mao Mao, who are not only great mechanics but also honest people. Even after a whole week, the students remembered the story vividly, and engaged in lively discussions about how they understood honesty, and how they should practice such a virtue in real life. With these questions, Hua Dan’s team took the children back to the spaceship. They patiently listened to King Chacha announce the Spaceship Code, the children learning in the company of Gulugulunians.
The ship-fixers dissolved misunderstanding and conflicts with honesty and benevolence, with the third-graders offering some novel and multi-layered ideas. “We should not only be honest and trustworthy, but also tolerant and kind,” they said.
After the workshop, teachers Song Laoshi and Wang Laoshi thanked us for our hard work and, “For bringing such a rich experience to our classroom.” As our group said goodbye to the teachers and students, Mr. Chai, the head of the school, also came to the gate to express his gratitude and see us off. The students told us they planned to share the day’s excitement and lessons with their mothers and fathers, while some of them very eagerly told us, “You have to come again!” — and we will certainly be back at the school, conducting further workshops.
In the coming weeks, Hua Dan’s team, consisting of two main project leaders, three facilitators and a fantastic group of volunteers, will lead the children to delve further into the content and major issues shown in the performance. Judging from the initial reception, the workshops will be a huge success.