THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS BLOG ARE THE AUTHOR’S OWN AND DO NOT REFLECT THOSE OF VSO.
So many of you have asked for details about my work. I realise that we are very work-orientated in the West. I’m still feeling my way and building relationships whilst trying to find the most effective and sustainable way of working. I’ll give more details of my efforts in a separate blog. I’ll keep this one to my first assignment.
My friend Wendy Keay-Bright of the Graphics department at UWIC Cardiff, gave me the name of a paediatrician she had met whilst working in Xi’an a couple of years ago. Wendy has devised a series of computer based interactive games for Autistic children – http://www.reactickles.org – which I’m hoping to be able to use if I can get some computers for the kids!I got in touch with him soon after arriving here and he told me he was organising a lecture tour with a small group of paediatricians from Canada and Turkey and asked me to join them. He wanted me to talk on Special Needs Education in Britain and China. Given that I’d not even been in work a week, I had to persuade them that it would be a good thing to do. The professor had established the only centre in China for Abused and Abandoned Children and I thought that our organisation might be able to help him with some volunteers. After considerable discussion, they agreed to let me go. I’m not sure if they were trying to protect me from the rigours of travelling to the northern areas of Shaanxi province or what.
Distances are vast here, and although we didn’t leave Shaanxi province, we travelled by train, car and plane and ended up near Inner Mongolia. In the three main cities we visited – Sui De, Yulin and Shun Mu – we lectured and the real paediatricians did ward rounds and taught/exchanged information with local doctors whilst I listened and learned. I realised that one of the reasons I’d been asked along was because here in China so many children with special needs are treated in hospitals. Most Cerebral Palsy children have their physio and exercise programmes in hospital and I was asked about cures and medical treatment for Autism and Cerebral Palsy. Needless to say I did not comment on the Chinese education of SEN children as I had only just arrived. Suffice it to say that children with SEN are educated by NGO’s if they’re lucky and are not part of ordinary schools at all. Hence there is no system of early educational intervention.
The northern part of Shaanxi has discovered large quantities of oil, gas and coal in the last 5-10 years and it is bringing extreme wealth to the area. We passed a continuous stream of coal trucks, bumper to bumper, that clogged up the roads for mile upon mile. Five years ago there was only desert where the city of Yulin now stands. They are proud of their new hospital and five star hotel. Everywhere we went we were given a royal welcome and treated to wonderful Chinese hospitality. We were also able to do a couple of touristy things as well and saw the “beginning” of the Great Wall near Yulin and the Genghis Khan Mausoleum near Inner Mongolia. The pictures tell the rest of the story so highlight and right click!