Monday, November 29, 2010

Serving Milo at the Memory Walk

Under the the MOE's Community Involvement Programme (CIP), all secondary school kids have to do at least six hours of community service or service learning a year. Personally I think this number is too token and should be raised. You can hardly develop a spirit for volunteerism with just 6 hours a year.

Lesley-Anne' school imposes a more rigorous requirement, namely 100 hours of CIP over four years. Since the school regularly organises CIP events for the students, the requirement is not as daunting to complete as it appears.

That is, until Lesley-Anne brought home a form just before school closed for the holidays. It stated that kids from the SBGE classes had the additional requirement of completing 30 hours of self-initiated CIP (ie not organised by the school) before June 2011.

Lesley-Anne was a little miffed that this requirement was only applicable to SBGE students ("you mean only gifted kids have to do community service?") but she accepted it with grace since she is all for giving back to society anyway. At first, we thought nothing of it, maybe she could hook on to some organisation and volunteer her time during the holidays to complete the hours.

However, when she began to check online, she realised that the task was much more challenging than it appeared. First of all, you apparently can't just volunteer your time, you may only sign up for available opportunities that organisations post online, and these have to be organisations recognised for CIP. Since she was given the form so late, many opportunities during the holidays have been fully booked (I'm guessing by more clued in students desperate to clear their CIP hours!) To add to the complication, we discovered that most organisations don't accept volunteers under the age of 15.

Faced with this dilemma, there was a mad scrambling at home - Kenneth and I scouring the web for opportunities while Lesley-Anne was on the phone with her friends in the same predicament, asking if they had any lobang. Come on, I'm all for community service but when you impose a requirement that has so many administrative hurdles, it's slightly ridiculous.

Anyway, one of the opportunities we managed to find was the Memory Walk in aid of Alzheimer's patients. It was especially meaningful for Lesley-Anne since her late grandfather suffered from Alzheimer's.

So Lesley-Anne and two of her other friends signed up for the event, sacrificing their sleep-in time to make it down to the Marina Barrage by 6.30am on a Sunday morning. Kenneth too, had to wake up early to drive the girls down. When the child does CIP, so does the parent!

Initially, the girls were assigned to hand out surveys and coupons but later, they were tasked with manning the Milo van. Oooh... much more fun, methinks!

Here are the three friends, raring to serve Milo!

The walk attracted a huge turnout. There were some 5,000 registered participants, in fact when Kenneth tried to sign up for the walk, he was turned away as it was full. There were many booths and activities at the Marina Barrage for the post-walk session, including mahjong tables, puzzles etc. I think the biggest draw was the goodie bag though - typically Singaporean!

Meanwhile back at the Milo van, the volunteers were busily dishing out cups of Milo to snaking queues (not in picture, this was taken before the event started). And here's where you see ugly Singaporeans emerge from the woodwork. These are some of the stories Lesley-Anne shared after the event.

10 mins after walk started, an elderly lady zipped by to ask for Milo. Lesley-Anne's friend told her, "Auntie, you go for walk first", to which she replied, "walk already". Wah, 3.4km in 10mins - she must be a super sprinter. Or maybe she meant walking from the starting line to Milo van.

As expected, there was a high demand for Milo and it didn't help that there were the expected kiasu ones who aggravated the crowd situation by repeatedly queuing and asking for multiple cups for imaginary friends.

This particular friend of Lesley-Anne I thought was very garang - she would remember their faces and had no qualms about questioning them, "Three cups? One for you, one for your friend, who's the other one for?" or "Next time bring your friend!" One lady didn't like being interrogated over her repeated requests for multiple cups and muttered something about "the education system nowadays, students so yaya."

One person even brought his own water bottle and asked to fill it with Milo. Aiyoh, I know the Milo from Milo van is very nice lah, but still... Worse, I heard some of the volunteers were called "idiots" and "so slow" by impatient queuers. It didn't happen to Lesley-Anne but it upsets me to hear volunteers being verbally abused. I know it happens a lot with people like social workers and nurses. It's just wrong, when those who are trying to help others have to put up with this sort of mean spiritedness.

Anyway, I think this was a good experience and hopefully, through CIP, Lesley-Anne will be exposed to different forms of community service which can enrich her character.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Random shots at the National Museum

This was our first time to the National Museum since it was refurbished and I must say, I like it very much. The architecture is stately and classic, fittingly so, but it has little interesting highlights that removes the typical stuffiness of a museum.

Like this eerie row of blood red chandeliers swinging from the ceiling, pendulum style.

And a special wall where your image is projected onto the screen.

The high ceilings and use of glass give the whole place a very airy feel.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pompeii - Life in a Roman town 79CE

We took the opportunity of the Hari Raya Haji holiday to visit the Pompeii exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. Pompeii holds special interest for us because Kenneth and I visited the actual site when we were touring Italy as part of the Europe student tour back when we were undergraduates. For Lesley-Anne, she studied Pompeii under history in sec 1.

For those not in the know, Pompeii was a bustling roman town with a population of about 20,000 until Mount Vesuvius erupted and completely buried the city in 4m of volcanic ash and pumice in 79 CE. It was then forgotten until the mid-18th century when archaeologists restored it.

Because it was completely covered, much of the infrastructure and objects were well preserved, giving us a rare glimpse into life back then. They even found complete casts of humans and animals in their exact positions when they died. Can you imagine the terror they must have felt?

Pompeii revealed that many of the modern amenities and conveniences we enjoy today already existed back then, the Pompeiians were very advanced in their day. They had a monetary system (left) and scales (right).

They had medicine with intricate medical implements (left) and an aqueduct system which supplied running water directly via lead pipes to fountains and public baths, which the Romans loved. This pic on the right shows a faucet. The Pompeiians even had a heated swimming pool!

Dice was a popular game and we were so amused to learn that even back then, they had loaded dice! Looks like cheating is as old as time.

Roman art and pottery was as refined and exquisite as they come. Here's a glass cremation urn and a fountain from a rich man's house with an elaborate mosaic fresco (wall painting).

And you thought the "Beware of Dog" sign was a modern invention! (Kenneth and I saw the actual one - it's made of mosaic and at the doorstep of a rich man's house. Hysterical!)

The Romans of course, are famous for their military might. This is a pic of their armour - shoulder and shin guards, and a small shield.

On the streets of Pompeii.

The exhibition is on until 23 Jan 2011. Tickets for adults are $12 each and local students get free entry. It's a super deal, visitors can take home a free activity pack and near the exit, loads of kids were crafting a paper gladiator helmet provided freely. That's what I call a child-friendly exhibition.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Team KenDre on the Amazing Race

At Andre's school, a group of very dedicated fathers regularly organise activities for their fellow dads of the school. Last Saturday, it was a Father-Child Amazing Race, put together with the PE department.

It sounded fun so Kenneth signed him and Andre up for some father-son time together. Although it was dubbed the "Amazing Race", the event objective was to promote bonding so it wasn't really a race. At the school hall before the event, the PE head announced that there were no prizes for coming in first, the goal was to work together to complete the race.

Tell that to Andre. The moment the PE head said "go!", Zoop! our friend was the first one out the door.

There were five stations around the school compound, with two activities at each station. An example of the activities is the Blindfold Bean Throw, where the child is blindfolded and throws beanbags to the dad who has to catch them.

Another one was where the dad had to balance a yellow ball on a racquet and pass it to the child who had to "kiap" the ball between two racquets and bring it to the finishing line.

According to Kenneth, at least 50 father-child pairs participated in the event. That's a great turnout and they were lucky to have perfect weather.

Team KenDre came in 6th and Andre complained that they would've have gotten a better placing if Kenneth didn't keep forcing him to stop and take pictures. As Lilian said, it's like Team Jumba on the current season of The Amazing Race - kancheong son and relak dad.

Each team was presented with a trophy in the end, which I thought was a very nice touch. It now sits tall and proud on the wardrobe in Andre's room.

Monday, November 15, 2010

English composition part 7

Secondary school composition topics are so much more interesting than in primary school. Those who memorise model compositions for accidents, day at the park, day at the beach, blah blah, will be disappointed to find that they can't use them at the secondary school level.

For her sec 1 end of year English exam, Lesley-Anne had a write a composition based on either of two phrases: "It's not my fault!" or "Too many cooks spoil the broth." The kids had about an hour to write.

Lesley-Anne chose the first one and I was surprised when she brought home the exam script. At primary school, I never saw any of my kids' compositions written during exams. I figured the teachers didn't want any parents arguing with the score given. Looks like there are no such hang-ups in secondary school.

Here's her compo, mistake are hers.

Humans are the proudest creatures on earth. You know how many people, especially after a failure, say "It wasn't my fault!" As childish and immature as this line may seem, many of us are prone to saying it or at least implying it. Why? That is because we just do not want to humble ourselves, admit that we have flaws and that we are at fault. Proud as a peacock? I think that simile was originally supposed to be as proud as a human, but as you know, we humans are just to proud to believe that, so we changed it to as proud as a peacock.

Now, I know what you're thinking. I should probably be guilty of being proud too right? Wong! I am extremely guilty of being proud. However, I have learnt that pride is a dangerous thing and it can only lead to a fall. That is why I am humbling myself right now, to share with you an example in my life where I was just so horribly stuck up, so that you will not make the same mistake. Pride is dangerous, but it starts small, with something minor like the simple notion that it wasn't my fault.

That morning, I made two mistakes. The first was volunteering, the second was working with a team of morons. I had, in a moment of madness, just volunteered to be the leader of the dance group in our class performance. For this class performance, the class was split up into groups and each decided on a performance, like a dance, song or skit, to put on. No prizes for guessing which group I was in.

As a leader, I was the one in charge of the choreography and so, I wasted no time. After planning and teaching the group the dance, a problem arised.

"I do not like doing the turns!" "I can't do it, it's too hard!" "The music's awful!" "What will we wear?"

It was an onslaught of petty complaints! What did I do? Imagine that those complains were houseflys and imagine me with a fly swatter.

However, as the days went on and the performance date drew nearer, more and more complications presented themselves. The complaints I could handle, the fact that my groupmates dance horribly, I couldn't. When they danced, it was a made tangle of flailing arms and jutting legs. They could not turn without spinning out of control, they could not jump without landing and creating a hole in the ground, neither could they do a split without pulling a muscle. They just could not dance for peanuts.

There was a dress rehearsal on Saturday before the Monday night performance. We performed dismally, earning many comments that were not so flattering. Embarrassed and angry at our failure, I stormed off after the rehearsal.

Just then, someone grabbed my hand. I whirled around to see my groupmate, Lisa. She asked me why I was so mad. That was seriously a really stupid question.

"We failed! Of course I will be mad!"

"We still have time before Monday. There is still hope!"

I chuckled at how naive she was.

"You bunch of idiots can't possibly learn by then," I muttered. That was totally, the wrong thing to say.

"We are the idiots? Who was the one who choreographed a dance so difficult that only a grade seven ballet student could do? I mean, we have no dance background at all, for heaven's sake!"

"That dance isn't hard!"

"Says the ballet student!"

"But it wasn't my fault! You people filled the practice sessions with petty complaints instead of trying to learn the dance!"

Lisa opened her mouth to protest but shut it. Then, she just walked away. The argument ended just as abruptly as it had started. As I stood there, still a little stunned, I replayed the whole process of pratising the dance in my mind. And it was not a pretty sight. Instead of being an understanding, patient and kind leader, I realised I was an awful, bad-tempered leader with no empathy. What have I done? I ran back and started to apologise to the group. To my immense relief, they forgave me. Just like that!

The next day, we spent the whole day practising a simple version of the dance and we just hoped and prayed that it would be up to standard. I realised that by apologising, the team seemed to be more cooperative and seemed to be fuelled by a certain determination to do well which was now in them.

On Monday night, the curtains rose and we stepped out of the wings onto the stage. The dance was, unfortunately not a success. Many mistakes were made and we received the least applause. Even though it was a huge improvement from Saturday, it just wasn't enough. As we walked back to the dressing room, Cheryl strode up to me, as if to complain again like she always did. But Lisa suddenly appeared, silenced her with one look and said "It wasn't her fault. It is our fault that we were not serious during the practises". Cheryl looked stunned but did not say anything.

At that moment, I wanted to shout that it was my fault. That it wasn't there's. That I was too blind to my own flaws and only saw their's. But I did not say anything because it won't do any good. It was too late. But not too late to tell you, reader, that you must learn from this and let go of your pride because it is always pride before fall. And if you look at the story closely, you will see that it really was entirely my fault after all.

Score: 23/30 (content 9/10, language 14/20)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A sleepover... in your own home

As the truism goes, the grass is always greener on the other side. Last year this time, Lesley-Anne and Andre were frequently squabbling in their shared room and dying to have their own space. Now that they have their own rooms, I had Andre tell me the other day, "It's so lonely to sleep by myself, nobody to talk to."

So Kenneth suggested that the kids hold sleepovers for each other. Lesley-Anne would sleep in Andre's room one night, another night, they would do the reverse. The kids got really excited about it. For us, there was the bonus of being able to save electricity from one air-con!

Funny how such a simple thing can become a major event. Andre invited Lesley-Anne over on Saturday night and gamely offered her his bed. It's not really as gallant as it sounds because he enjoys sleeping on the sofa bed but it's an arrangement they're both happy with.

Here they are sharing an interesting strip from Tintin.

And of course there has to be some clowning around. Wouldn't be a real sleepover otherwise, right?

Next week, it's Lesley-Anne's turn to play host. But I bet she won't be giving up her bed!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Isn't a B grade good enough?

In the blink of an eye, sec 1 is officially over for Lesley-Anne and she turned in very satisfactory results, in my opinion:

English & Literature: A1 (double weightage)
Higher Chinese: B3
Maths: A1
Science: A1
Geography & History: B3

We were especially pleased with her Chinese results. Having only taken Chinese as a 2nd language in primary school (and not being particularly adept at it), we were concerned over her transition to Higher Chinese. In the end, she not only managed to cope, she even attained a B3 grade for the year), which we thought was a great achievement.

You can therefore imagine my dismay when Lesley-Anne came home with a letter from the principal saying that she would need to sit for a preparatory test for Higher Chinese when school reopens in January because "she did not do well in the subject."

What??? They've got to be kidding, right? A 'B' grade for Higher Chinese, especially for someone who had not previously taken the subject, is considered unsatisfactory? I was miffed, to be honest. I felt that the school was setting the standard at an unnecessarily high level and putting additional pressure on the kids. I also found it difficult to believe that the vast minority of kids received an 'A' grade for Higher Chinese. Was Lesley-Anne's standard really so far behind other students in the school?

I made a call to a friend whose daughter is in the same school to find out if she knew anything. Well, the mystery was solved. According to her daughter, only students in the SBGE classes are subject to such preparatory tests. SBGE stands for School Based Gifted Education and it's an extension of the GEP programme in primary schools. Apparently for these classes, the kids are expected to maintain higher grades than the mainstream classes, so even a 'B' grade may not be acceptable (the preparatory tests are available for all subjects, by the way).

What I found particularly intriguing is that the schools continue to track and push the progress of the GEP kids even after they've left the programme in primary school. Is it so the school can lay claim to sterling results in national exams later? Or are they answerable to MOE for the continued performance of these kids?

I don't know and I find it odd that the parents were not briefed of this policy. I wouldn't have minded it so much if I was informed of the rationale and motivation behind such a practice. Definitely, the notice could have been written in a less draconian tone. (Parents were even asked to sign an acknowledgment form to make sure their kids study for the test. Ugh.) There was also no mention of the consequences should the child not pass the test, which is bound to create some anxiety.

It's a blip on an otherwise perfect record for the school in my books. Hopefully they can work on their diplomacy and transparency.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Why you throw away marks???"

This is a rambling post because I am totally devoid of stamina after having partaken in the SA2 exam race with Andre over the past two weeks. Of course I was an active participant! As parents, we believe if we somehow compensate our kids' bochap-ness with our kancheong-ness, the Exam Gods might pity us enough to bestow better grades on them.

I think Andre's results were ok (not great but ok) but again, I won't really know for sure until the Parent Teacher Conference next week. Unfortunately, his school streams the kids every year after p2 which means it's not enough to fare well, you need to fare better than or at least on par with other kids to ensure you get into a reasonable class.

Talk about adding to the ugly competitive spirit. For eg, even though Andre came home with 94.5 for maths, I was concerned to learn that many kids scored over 90, indicating that it was a simple paper. When I saw his careless mistake on one of his answers - 8/100 = 4/25, I slapped my forehead and wailed, "why you throw away marks like that???"

His Science paper gave me even more angst. Several questions that he answered incorrectly baffled me as I'd gone through the concepts with him several times. For one MCQ question, he knew the correct answer but marked the wrong number. Which triggered another apoplectic fit from me.

The sadist that I am added up all the marks that I deemed he SHOULD have gotten had he been more careful/focused/awake and announced very loudly to him: "YOU GAVE AWAY 8 MARKS!!!!!"

It's deja vu really. This happens after almost every exam and I know it is extremely unproductive. As Lilian and I were discussing a few days ago, we know yelling doesn't help, we know our kids have put in the effort, yet when the results come back, something goes off in our heads - we automatically harp on what they did wrong and find ways to heap the burning coals on their heads.

One of Andre's good friends barely passed his math exam last term and made a huge improvement to score 80 at this exam. His mum, who's a friend of mine, laughed as she admitted, "I was still thinking, aiyah, how come he couldn't get Band 1."

Here's the plain truth: we're hard to please.

Andre has long learnt that when telling me unsatisfactory marks, he would be doing himself favours by naming all his friends who'd scored lower than him. If he came home and announced, "guess what I got for maths, Mummy!" I instantly knew it would be good news. If it was bad news, he'd sometimes wait till it was almost time for bed before giving me a beseeching look and saying, "by the way, I got back my English marks today..." It's predictable behaviour but who can blame him?

So instead of focusing on his mistakes, this post is to remind myself of what he did right. He got 17/20 for Chinese compo. He scored within the upper range (28-30/30) for Chinese oral. And of course he did get 94.5 for his maths afterall.

I shall be content and give thanks. And be extra grateful that the next exam is not till 5 months later.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Future problem solving - sec 1 lang arts

One of the major language arts assignments Lesley-Anne had to do this year is what the school calls Future Problem Solving.

The task was to create a fictitious story based on a projected future problem. The students had a choice of three broad themes: sensory overload, orphaned children or green living. Based on one of these themes, they had to do research and write a story of up to 1,500 words to illustrate the problem which should cover future aspects. Scoring was on creativity, inclusion of future aspects, development of plot and characterisation, among others.

Lesley-Anne chose orphaned children. I'm not sure China would appreciate the light she cast them in but hey, it's fiction and kids generally don't care too much about being politically correct, heh. She scored 63/80 for this assignment.

Dr. Maleve's hatred for orphans was well-expressed and well-known. What the orphan boy did was in self-defense, not an assault and Dr Maleve knows this himself. As the poor orphan’s lawyer, I was not going to let an insincere and untrustworthy man like Dr Maleve stand in my way of winning this major case.

I won and headed home. I always made it a point to take half a day’s leave after every case, just so I could avoid the media. It helped that I did not even need to waste time trying to settle the money the orphan had to pay for my services. I had understood his financial restraints and offered my services for free.

I reached the door to my apartment and I pressed my hand to the scanner so that I could be granted access. Not a very high-tech security system but it did its job. I entered my house which smelled of hand sanitizer and soap, which meant that the house’s cleaning apparatus had done its job while I was out. I flopped onto my sofa and pressed the side-key on the arm rest, which would switch on my widescreen television. As if trying to test my patience, Dr Maleve’s twisted face appeared on the screen. He was currently being interviewed about his new scheme to improve China’s already flourishing economy.

Now, something you must know about China, is that because of their past one-child policy, many children were abandoned by their parents. However, the government rewrote that policy because of their aging population and so the number of orphans decreased to a minute amount just living on the streets. Now orphanages have become a thing of the past.

Also, about the newly elected government, let’s just say they are not exactly too concerned about the people. They say they are focusing on the already thriving economy to help China reach her full potential. They also slammed orphan children for contributing to the economy. I attribute this to the fact that China’s ties with the USA are strengthening, with Dr Maleve as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Anyway, back to the scheme, which would be implemented in a month. Basically, Dr Maleve had suggested that the Chinese government “eliminate” the orphan children since they do not contribute to the economy in any way. Did I mention that the Chinese government was obsessed with the economy? Well, no prizes for guessing whether of not they accepted the proposal.

I may have looked calm on the outside, but inside, I was shattered. All those orphans, my own kin in a way, gone. Imagine your own family being tossed to the side, thrown out like trash, a scary thought. My eyes felt like a leaky faucet. You can try to turn it off, but it just won’t stop dripping.

All those feelings that I had bottled up for years came rushing out of me like a fountain. The fear I had felt when I was bullied, burning pain when I was abused and also the pain of saying goodbye to the others, knowing I would have a much better life while their chances of even surviving to adulthood were few.

Suddenly, small voice in the corner of my mind spoke up. “Get a grip, Angela”, I told myself. “The orphans did not name you Jue Xin for nothing; you need to be determined. You can change this if only you would try.” You know how they say hope is that little thing which resides in a corner? I can tell you first hand that it is true.

Before I knew it, I had just landed at the Beijing Airport and was hailing a hover-cab which took me to the nearest hotel. After night fall, I slipped out, feeling like a thief. The, I found it. It was the old bunker near the sewage system where my other orphan friends and I used to live. The small bunker had many Chinese orphans seeking refuge in here and the whole bunker seemed to be transformed into a little home from fifty years ago. There were actual battery-powered lamps instead of solar powered ones and a television that screened things in 2-D instead of 3-D, probably all junk that people had dumped.

Then, I saw Xing Yun standing in front of me and gasped. Xing Yun was so surprised that her jaw could have reached the ground. Reunited with my old friend, we embraced each other after being separated for ten years.

That night, Xing Yun and I had a quiet talk. When I asked about where the others were, she answered “After a while, they all started to leave. Most found jobs, Bu Kang died of pneumonia last winter and Da Jia was whisked away by Jun Wei’s gang”.

Jun Wei and his gang were a group of rich kids who would raid the bunker often and steal our food. These gangs were popularly known as “pit raiders”.

“Do you know where they are working or where they live?” I asked.

Xing Yun then took out a small plastic bag which contained all their various name cards and handed them to me.

“They gave these to me before they left”.

“Thank you. I will start my search tomorrow”.

The next morning, my search began. Luckily for me, it produced fruitful results. I met Kai Xin in the morning and it turns out that she is a waiter. By afternoon, I had already managed to meet up with Luo Suo and Chun Tian who turned out to be a philosopher and a florist respectively. Others that I met had a myriad of occupations including a cashier at McDonalds, a sculptor and a craftsman.

That evening, we all sat outside the bunker to discuss our plan to ‘override’ Dr Maleve’s scheme. After a lengthy discussion, we managed to come to a compromise. We decided to write our own newspaper to feature us at our jobs and show how successful we have become.

Yue Du and I would write the newspaper reports and Pai Pai the photographer would take photographs to display in the newspaper. For the next few days, we worked throughout the long nights to get the newspaper ready. After a long week, The Orphan Times was published.

After about a week, even the government noticed the Orphan Time’s success. And so, I had a little surprise visit form the Chinese government officials and Dr Maleve while I was in the bunker.

After a slight introduction, one official said “Miss Angela, I know you may disagree with Dr Maleve here, but that does not mean you can make lofty claims about him.” You see, he must have been referring to the little article that I had written with a headline that said “Dr Maleve’s head start in life was a job as a pit-raider!”

“Sir, I can assure you that I have enough evidence to back this claim,” I calmly replied.

He rechecked the article, only to see the references and citations from all the reliable sources. Realizing his folly, he glared at Maleve and continued. “I also know that you want to help the orphan children, but you have to look at his from our perspective. These children are a burden to society”

“But they have potential.”

“We cannot wait for that to show.”

“Let me put it this way. Implement this scheme, and you will make enem...”

“Don’t listen to her. She’s just trying to hinder China’s growth!” Dr Maleve cut in.

“Now Maleve, I want to hear what she has to say,” the official warned.

“If you do this, countries like Russia, the ‘orphan havens’ of the world, will protest against this violation of human rights and your ties with them will be weakened further. You know that with Russia’s economy picking up, ties with them would be important to help China’s economy too. But you had to listen to a malevolent pit-raider’s advice and implement the scheme. Can’t you see that it’s unfair and unjust? Moreover, if these orphans are gone, they would not help China now or in the future. But let them live and they can serve China when they grow up.”

I could tell that whatever I had said was effective in some way because the officials all came to an agreement that they would rethink their decision. In the end, they still decided to implement the scheme, those fools. However, every cloud has a silver lining. Instead of “eliminating” the orphan children, the children will be flown to Russia, the world’s largest “orphan haven”. When they have become of working age, they would be flown back to work in China. This scheme would be killing two birds with one stone. The ties with Russia and China would strengthen and the orphans would contribute to China’s economy in the future.

I returned to America feeling victorious. Maybe I would take a holiday in Moscow this year as a reward for myself.

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