All new beginnings are hard, and the start to our semester has us scrambling to figure out how to channel kid's energy towards learning.

There aren’t many trees around our Heiqiao center, but there still is something blossoming in the community marking the start of a new spring in Beijing: the sound of kids running and playing during our Saturday Open House Weekend programs.

We started on the 30th and will have programs for the next ten Saturdays till June 8th… that is, if we don’t keel over by that point. The day is packed with classes in the morning (mostly English and social studies) and scads of activities in the afternoon ranging from chess to soccer and ballet. By the end of the day, the kids were perky and we were bushed.

At the volunteer debrief, we all tried to comfort ourselves with the fact that the first day of any program with kids is tough. I personally think there must be some chemical in the air during spring that’s like catnip for humans under the age of 10. Certainly though, there are real wrinkles that we have to iron out at the start– we have to figure out what activities will/won’t keep kids engaged and out of each others’ hair (literally), how to make sure kids absorb what we want to teach them, and we have to figure out which ones are particularly… in need of attention.

Not only are kids prone to go crazy and get excited when they have the opportunity to make friends and play outdoors, but like inner city schools in the US, a large number of these kids come from unstable home environments and need extra care. Hopefully these weekends will give us a chance to give them an outlet for their energy and a chance to learn a little from the volunteers.

We’re looking forward to seeing these kids bloom more by summer.