Hope, Joy and Possibilities
A journey documented by Laura Murgatroyd, Marlina Oliveira, Stephen Yang
Two years ago Laura Murgatroyd, John Oliveira and Marlina Oliveira of Richland Academy, Richmond Hill, Ontario forged a relationship with Guo Jian Cheng to explore bringing the Reggio inspired philosophy of learning in the early years, to China. Fast forward two years later, we have arrived to Guangzhou, China and have spent the better part of January immersed in a rich and vibrant culture, enjoying the spring like weather. During our time here we have formed new relationships with our Chinese educators, participated in the design and construction of the centre, sourced materials, and trained them in the principles of the Reggio philosophy.
Today we ventured out with two intentions in mind..to tour the island of Er Sa, and for one of our students , Stephen, to apply and to practice the art of documentation. We were unclear at this point of what we would document, but we trusted ourselves, our partnership, and the process of learning and creativity to unfold and provide us the insight we were seeking.
Upon our arrival to the island of Er Sa, Stephen now took on the role of tour guide, and what an excellent guide he was. He began to provide us with details and history of this island. It is an island separated on both sides by the Pearl river, with lush native plants, and green space…..the first grass we had seen since our arrival to Guangzhou. It is a quiet, peaceful and reflective space, not crowded by large concrete structures. It is inhabited by the rich and famous of Guangzhou or better yet, the Beverly Hills of Guangzhou.
The museums were easily accessible to us, and much to our amazement, didn’t cost us a penny. In both the art museum of Guangzhou and the Canton immigrant Museum, we were captivated by the streamlined aestethic of the spaces, the preservation and curation of the art displays, art work and historical and modern artifacts. We could see how carefully balanced the old and new art installations were featured. Your eye was easily drawn to each individual piece of work. It immediately spoke to us as Reggio inspired educators, that we must honour children’s work in the same fashion as a gallery curator would because we teach children to find beauty in their lives and to be able to express it in many ways, using our senses, and speaking to the 100 languages. Treating children’s work like a gallery is beneficial from two perspectives; that of the artist and the audience. As the child artist, you feel your work is valued and purposeful. As an audience we emotionally connect with the work.
Having been immersed in the history and modern day Chinese culture and the story of how the people of Canton moved to North America to start a new life…a new beginning, the symbolism was profound. We are here in the heart of the immigrant museum, making our own history in China, from North America.
As we connect globally to transform education, we are revelling in our distinct cultural differences and similarities, yet share common values and a common goal for our children. We look forward to the road that we will travel together filled with hope, wonderment, joy and possibilities.