I'm nearing the end of my stay in China now and have mixed feelings about leaving. Although I'm very excited about coming home to England to see family and friends, I will miss the excitement and energy of this place. It's not like anything I've experienced in the UK before. Everything is growing and developing so quickly here, some companies are growing 100% every few years so there is a lot of new money around and the gap between rich and poor is very stark. Everyone here seems to work and even if it's just collecting the rubbish off the street to sell for recycling, most people have some sort of job to keep them busy. People are out to make changes in their lives and are very focused on work and making money, which does mean that the environmental aspects are sometimes overlooked.
The new Forest School practitioners I am working with on the training are very enthusiastic and all understand the importance of maintaining the connection between children and the natural world. They have been a pleasure to teach and I will miss their enthusiastic attitude when I leave. These will be some of the first pioneers of Forest School in China, an idea which I hope will continue to grow and develop here. The company I'm working with (UK-China Education) are working really hard to ensure that the approach is made sustainable here whilst at the same time maintaining the core elements of the FS approach. The idea of Forest School and the unique way it aims to connect children to their natural surroundings in needed across the world at the present time, but especially here, where most children living in urban environments live in high rise tower blocks with no access to any outdoor space, pollution across the city and such major environmental problems facing China's future.
At the same time as this, China has a rich and ancient history and culture, with many of the old ways being kept alive through story, games and myths. Many people here still live very closely with their extended family and often grandparents will live in the family home to look after the children while parents go to work. The people here have been very friendly to me, always interested in westerners, especially with my strange hair! Have had a lot of photos taken and shocked expressions!
I will be returning home soon, but hoping to be back on China in the future to carry on with the work here.