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The talent show was a terrific leap forward for S.P.A.S. We not only got to see how fabulous and talented many of our students were, but also how supportive and friendly the student body could be when the performers needed a little help. The audience was also able to witness how performing in front of a large crowd of people could spark a change inside of the singers and dancers. It was not uncommon to see a troupe of singers going up on stage with a glint of nervousness showing on their faces only to slowly grow confident in their abilities as they performed on stage. By the end of the act, the singers and dancers would stride off stage confidently, one hundred percent sure that they had done their best and that no one could say otherwise. Besides singing and dancing, there was also a very special origami act and a rapping skit. Of everyone at the talent show, it was probably the judges who were worrying the most. They had the difficult job of choosing winners from our talented cast of students. The time they took to confer when everyone was finished performing emphasized how tough watching and rating was. However, even though not everyone was able to win a prize, the student body took it upon itself to congratulate every performer as if he/she/they had won first prize. So, in the end, S.P.A.S. showed its true colours by supporting each and every student brave enough to get up on stage.

 
 
    Olympic park stands as fortress against the forces of the rural areas in China. Everything about it shouts modern and advanced. The zone is looked upon by the locals as comparable to the Eiffel tower in France or the Statue of Liberty in America. It is their pride of a time long gone by, and stands as a reminder to the Chinese people that their country once held the great Olympic ceremony in the heart of China’s capital. This pride shows itself in the thousands upon thousands of pictures taken on the grounds of the park. It seemed as though some people in China would travel all across the country just to have the chance to take a picture with family members at the park. Aside from the pictures being taken everywhere, another feature we discovered to be connected to the park was the absurd amount of kites flying in the air. The open sky literally was a battleground filled with kites of different shapes and sizes all fighting for possession of the area. Though very distracting when they were whipping around in our faces, we found that they added a flavour to the park that seemed to make the place seem far more special than it probably was. Having recently visited the areas on the outside of this park, we could compare just how empty and lonely the outer part of the park seemed compared to the inner square. The two zones were practically worlds apart, even though they were separated by less than one or so kilometers. This definitely gave us some food for thought, as we realized that when we look at something, we are only seeing one face of that particular thing, and that in order to truly understand something we must look at that particular thing from many different angles. Only in this way can we really capture a real picture of something.
 
 
    Who would have thought that there was so much beyond our school borders? It turns out that Olympic park is only a thirteen minute walk away from our school.  As we made our way there we managed to see how terribly polluted the water in the river is that runs along side the road to the park. The water itself looked poisonous to any living animal. A little ways down the river we came across the dam that controlled the river’s water flow. It was there that we were able to truly appreciate how contaminated the water really was. The dam was made to stop water from flowing, but it also blocked the rubbish that was in the river. So, the dam had amassed a huge amount of garbage. It was so bad that we could even see the workers whose task it was to fish out the rubbish blocked by the dam. It seemed at though the dam needed workers working there 24 hours a day, or there would be too much garbage. When we reached Olympic park, it did not look like much. It was at this time that it was decided the only way to get to our destination was to climb a miniature mountain. After a lot of pain and sweat, we finally reached the summit and could finally appreciate how beautiful the land around us was. The people who had designed the park had done a good job, and everywhere we looked we could see amazing scenery. It was in stark contrast with the area SPAS was in, with tightly packed buildings as far as the eye could see. In addition, there were practically no other people besides us at the park. It seemed mighty sad that such an incredibly huge piece of land could go to such waste.  One of the most eye catching features of the park was the design of the bodies of water. All the lakes were designed in such a way that they seemed incredibly artificial. Whereas every other aspect of the “natural scene” had been well captured, the lakes were very obviously man-made. While it is for certain that this park was fully appreciated during the Olympics, it seemed as though that even though the world had moved on beyond the 2008 Olympics, the park had not, and stood out as a part of China that was stuck in the past.

 
 
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    Camera News Club interviewed the new vice principal, Mr. Chederquist.
We found out information that can help us get to know Mr. Chederquist.
He is an American who also had lived in Minnesota as many of the other
teachers in school. Before he came to SPAS, he taught technology in
schools for 25 years and has traveled to 16 different countries. He
told us that his college major was industrial technology education.
Now, he is excited to be here because he wants to challenge himself to
be a great vice pincipal in a Chinese-American school.

     Mr. Chederquist has a family of three sons, one daughter and a
wife. He told us his oldest son is in college, the younger son and
daughter are in high school and his youngest son is five years old.
The interesting thing is that his youngest son was adopted by he and
his wife; the youngest is Chinese and is only five years old. He also
told us that his wife and two of his young children are planning to
come to China in the fall. Before his family comes he is planning to
learn Chinese more and travel. His hobby is running and has competed
in orienteering around the world. Mr. Chederquist came to China four
years ago; he liked the Chinese people because they were nice to him.

     His goals this spring are to get to know all the SPAS students’
names and to make the master schedule for the next fall; he expects to
keep a high academic rigor in school.

     We asked him to tell us one interesting story was and he told us
about a time when he was arrested for taking a picture of a beggar. He
was not in America and the people didn’t speak English there. He only
knew to say,”I’m sorry” and “I can’t speak your language.” He of
course showed his passport, but the police didn’t care. He was freed
after awhile. He thinks they were trying to show how powerful they
were and he got the message!

 
 
On March 11, a magnitude 8.9 earthquake slammed Japan’s northeastern coast Friday, unleashing a tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland. Death toll estimates have been as high as 10,000, and there were reports of several injuries in Tokyo, hundreds of miles away, where buildings shook violently through the main quake and the wave of massive aftershocks that followed. Thousands of people are still missing and the death toll is still rising.
Disclaimer

The opinions voiced in the interview below in now way represent the opinion of the Saint Paul American school or any other organization affiliated with it. These are opinions of individuals, and if there is any dissatisfaction with the opinions voiced, please be advised to take up your matter with the person in question.  
 
Jin: So, what are your thoughts concerning the disaster in Japan?
Rebecca:  I pity them. I sympathasize with them. I believe this is part of the buildup that will lead to 2012.  

Jin:  What do you think about the problems that Japan is facing right now?
Steve ( Chemistry Teacher ): It is a tragic case. It is inspiring though to see the work of the rescue workers. I also donated money to the Japanese people in need of help.
Jin: What would you do if you were in Japan when the earthquake occurred?
Steve: I would find a doorway and place myself in it.
Jin: Why a doorway?
Steve: Doorframes are probably one of the most stable parts of a building.  

Jin: What do you think about the earthquake in Japan?
Simon:  It is bad because it destroyed a part of the world and killed many people and released radiation.
Jin: What would you do if you were in Japan when the earthquake took place?
Simon: I would call the police. 

Jin: What do you think about what has happened in Japan?
Grace: First, it is no-one’s fault. It is all very sad. In Japan, many foreigners died or were injured. This shows how the whole world was affected.  I think that despite what has happened, Japan can rise up and become good again.
Jin: What would you do if you were in the Japanese government?
Grace: I would go to the places affected and give hope to the discouraged people. I would also donate money.  

Jin: What would you do if you could help the people in Japan?
Ben ( music teacher ): I would help out as much as possible.
What would you do if you were in Japan when the tsunami hit?
Ben: I would get to a roof as quickly as I could.
Jin: What do you think about the government’s response to the disaster?
Ben: I think the government is doing a good job getting the army going to help people. I think it is important that they get communications working in the places hit and supplies to the places hit.  

Jin: What would you do if you were in Japan?
Ken: I don’t know.  

Jin: How would you feel if you were in Japan and survived and what would you do?
Dominique: I would feel bad if I survived and others didn’t. I would first find international news agencies and ask for help.  

Jin: What do you think about the situation in Japan?
Angela: I think is is very sad and bad.  

Jin: What would you do if you were in a position to help Japan?
Brent: I would gather as much money as I could and use it to help the Japanese people. 

Jin: What do you think about the Japan affair?
Eric: I feel very sad. I think we should help each other and the people affected by the earthquake. I think the radioactivity is quite serious.

Jin: What would you do if you were in Japan?
Eric: I might cry. However, I think the problem can be solved step by step.

 
 
    As we stroll through the bright corridor, we pause to admire our surroundings. Paintings and writing are strewn across the walls. The setting unnerves us; with multiple doors on both sides of the hall, it is almost as if we have been lured into an ambush. Our hairs bristle up, similar to that on wild animals backed into a corner. There is something in the air that gives us a fraction of a second to prepare before a horde of miniature monsters rush us. Instinctively, the girls jump in front boys, trying to shield them from the swiftly approaching menace. To our amazement, the cluster swiftly reveals itself to be a group of miniature children. Stunned, we reevaluate the situation. The fierce mob betrays its intention as its members begin squealing with laughter. Caught off guard, we can only stand there speechless as little boys and girls continue to spill out of the classrooms. Against our will, we are dragged into the rooms by countless tiny hands. We are dropped off at the front of the classroom, where upon the tiny figures retreat to their little tables. Unsure how to proceed, our reflexes kick in and we carry out the task that was programmed into our heads. We lift our hands up to the whiteboard as we draw pictures of the season SPRING, the topic we have been sent here to teach.  Their little eyes follow us around the room as we describe to them how beautiful spring is. As time goes by, our movements become more graceful, less stilted, as we become the teachers we were assigned to be. Foolishly, we relax, despite being told in implicit terms to never let down our guard. One of the SPAS reporters turns his back to the kids as he draws on the board. He is rewarded with a little one biting his finger.
 
 
 

     As school shuts down for the week, there is an air of excitement tingling in the air. Ever the curious students we try to track it down to its source. We know we are hot on the trail when we hear the screams of maniac crowds losing themselves in the moment. We approach apprehensively, ready to make a hasty retreat in case we stumble upon some sort of battle. Peering around the corner, we catch a glimpse of something flying through the air. Despite the speed at which it shoots by, we are immediately put at ease, as we realize what’s going on. Football.

      Desperate to get right in the middle of things, we scout out the perfect position from where we can have a great view of the match. Entrenching ourselves so we don’t get jostled aside by many of the hooligans who have decided to go a little wild, we gaze across the field, drinking in the scene before us. It is evident almost right away who is playing who. On one side there is a legion of adrenaline pumped teenage girls, the ground trembling as they stomp around, eager to find someone to swarm and take down. It is almost as if they are taking out their anger at the world on their opponents. Opposing them on the opposite side of the field are the more mature female teachers, who are deliberately not lowering themselves to the level of their enemy by refraining from resorting to the unseemly tactics employed by the students. Such honour does them no good, however, as the rampaging girls systematically take out the teachers one by one. With out any substitutes, and an enemy who can seemingly pump out fresh players in a matter of seconds, the odds don’t look good for the women.

      All is not lost though. Despite the overwhelming odds they are faced with, the teachers hold the line, and repulse the hornets’ angry attacks. Time after time it seems as though the end is near and a goal is inevitable, but the team of seven strong manage to repel the assaults.  As inquisitive spectators, we begin speculating as to from where the teachers draw their strength. After debating for what seems like hours, we come to a conclusion: the teachers have nothing to prove. Whereas the younger girls feel the need to show the world what they are capable of, the more mature women have found an inner peace that gives them the strength to persevere. The students’ only strength is that which they draw from their mass; alone they would surely perish under the pressure.

     These inner qualities reveal themselves through the actions of the two teams on the playing field. The relentless wave of youngsters forever pound on the teachers’ defenses, and yet the teachers never yield. After some spectacular football, the match ends with a score of 1-1. The teachers have managed to survive the onslaught and can feel proud of playing such a good game of football. The students, on the other hand, after trying all their dirty tricks and failing to take control of the game are forced to slink back to the counseling room and plot their revenge.

 
 
College. The very thought sparks our imagination to life as our ideas of the perfect world flood through our mind. As our minds reel from the explosion of colour ‘college’ triggers, we can’t help but wonder about how great moving on will be, and how joyful the moment when we leave home will be.

     This week, we travelled to Qing Hua in an attempt to enrich our experience of life in China. Colleges have traditionally been places of change, so we decided to pick one in hopes of discovering where China is headed in the future. Despite the energy and conviction with which we tackled this pursuit, our attempts to sneak a peak into China’s future by interviewing its youths proved futile.

     While surveying the land in hopes of finding a hidden cache of unsuspecting youngsters, we came across a vast stretch of land, housing two statues at opposite ends of the field. They were erected in such a way that we certain we had uncovered monuments of great cultural significance. We also quickly picked up on the fact that the groups of people surrounding each statue were at opposite ends of the age spectrum, university-wise. The students encircling the statue of a young bird stretching its wings were practically all freshmen. They described to us the importance they felt this statue held for them. All having just left home, they believed that the depiction of the young animal excited to set off on its own related to their own situation, as they were young kids who were fresh of their “nests”. They felt the monument was an auspicious sign for what was to come for them, and so they gravitated towards it almost subconsciously. The three young SPAS reporters also felt that they could identify with the youngsters’ feelings about college, and how it was the beginning of the pursuit of happiness.

     The other statue on the other end of the field, however, was surrounded by students who were finishing their last year of school, and getting ready to face the new world. The statue portrayed a baby bird sitting with its mother, looking up into the sky. After interviewing the young men and women surrounding this statue, we detected almost a completely different attitude toward life in comparison to how the freshmen viewed it. These senior students had trudged through the rigors of university life only to find that what they longed for was right back at home where they started. They told us they remembered their freshmen years and the narrow vision they looked upon the world with. During their trials at college, though, they had managed to shed off such petty obstructions and managed to gain a true perspective of life. While the three SPAS student reporters could not grasp the message the senior college kids were trying to convey, the three SPAS supervising and very much older teachers did, and chided the three SPAS students for not seeing the wisdom of the fourth year college students’ words. The three SPAS students held their ground though, insisting that there was nothing of value at home and that all the riches of the world could only be found outside of the nest. With both sides unwilling to give up any ground, it was a long, loud ride back to SPAS.


http://www.icfj.org/archive/

http://www.edvantage.com.sg/edvantage/photos/447720/World_s_most_beautiful_college_campuses.html

http://forum.santabanta.com/showthread.htm?t=203677



 
 
When faced with something deemed man-made, most people will sniff and dismiss it as “unnatural”. This attitude is prevalent throughout the majority of people, and subsequently many scenes of beauty have been overlooked without even a glance. During a recent trip to the Sink Hole, we learned that there is a side to every story, and even the things that seem repulsive can harbour pearls of beauty.

     As we stepped out of the van into the barren wasteland known as the Sink Hole, our first thought was to jump back into the vehicle and lock the door. Against our will we were tasked with scoping out the landscape and reporting our findings. Begrudgingly, we set out on our dire task. At first, most of the so-called “scenery” passed in blur, our minds transmitting these apparently worthless images into a bottomless pit, never to be seen again. As time went by, we began to pick up on things that we had previously missed: People playing games happily on the trash covered streets, dogs chasing cats eagerly, little cottages with smoke coming out of the chimneys… Gradually, our team registered these scenes as occurrences that would happen in our own neighborhood. As the barriers between the life in the Sink Hole and our own lives fell, we were able to relate to the life in this desolate land, and the life knowledge we gleamed from this area gave us wisdom farm beyond our years.

     Returning back to the refuge of the van, we crossed paths with many of the sights that “affronted” us when we first arrived. As we re-examined the landscape, we found we were able to truly able to appreciate the Sink Hole as we never could have at a first glance. In our eyes, this rubble filled zone had transformed into something truly beautiful. It had started as a giant dump, a great sink hole in which those who barely survived to make a living sifting through the trash and collecting materials that could be recycled. But from the bowls of this Sink Hole had emerged a colossal mountain rubbish. While many would have turned their eyes away from such an “unnatural” sight, we were able to comprehend the magnitude of what had taken place in this abandoned area. The mountain though composed of garbage and other waste looked upon as useless by most people, had claimed this patch of earth as its own. It had fought to survive just as any creature of nature would have, and in doing so, had earned the right to live and prosper there, at least in our eyes.