Sunday, November 23, 2014

Weekend Children's Museums / 假日兒童博物館


Every spring and fall, there are mobile weekend children museums prepared by the animal museum in front of College of Life Science in NTU on Saturday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Students and staff come up with various activities for children. This fall, the herbarium decided to join hands with the animal museum. For the six weeks, the staff and volunteers will give children and adults a tour of the outdoor gardens. Meanwhile, I will host doodling workshops in the herbarium. In fact, on the first Saturday, we only meant to draw some visitors to the herbarium, but I found the experience rather pleasant and inspiring. Thus, starting from the second Saturday, we officially became part of the weekend children museums.


   Though I made some preparation, I couldn't help feeling a little bit nervous in the beginning. The quiet herbarium was going to liven up because of children. I focus on some star specimens to be the teaching materials. 


   This is the eye-catching Elephant Yam. I bet the specimens are excited about the children's coming. I mean, I would blush with so many eyes staring at me! 


   I appreciate the enthusiastic help of the staff and even my ex-students. However, every weekend before the workshops, I can hardly believe that I have to say the same thing for six times. Yet, I feel more at ease than at work. Upon seeing this, I do feel that I can go on and on. Shouldn't a museum look like this on the inside? 


   Every group of children is different. Yesterday, some kids felt so at home. I found the image to be very moving. When it came to the last group of kids yesterday, each of them held a colored pencil in their hand, unable to draw anything. I kept saying, "It's Saturday. Don't think too much. Just draw whatever you want to." In the end, three boys of different sizes from the same family came forth and showed me their drawings shyly. How thoughtful and indirect, yet how lovely! 


   I can't explain why every weekend my heart is filled with joy. These are just some tiny moments, but they are unforgettable. For example, I can't help bursting into laughter when the kids try so hard to answer my questions only to bring forth really really hilarious answers. They are so involved in the drawing activity even only for ten minutes. Maybe what I see at last is an abstract drawing, but I don't mind. Some kids don't feel like drawing, but they will ask me with worries, "Can I not draw?" Even that is appealing to me. Or it might be a two-year-old who doesn't know how to hold a pencil. Still, she insists on drawing short lines at a slow pace. A little boy carries a super beautiful English book bag on his back; a group of kids who rushes outside look confused when I ask them to go to the exhibits near the entrance; a big boy says with confidence, "I like plants." A talkative boy finally stops talking and draws hard when I announce he won't get a gift if he does not put his mind to it. One really young boy asks me who drew the teaching materials. I answered like a kid too, "Me. Lovely right?" Last but not least, there are always some works that make my day.  


   It's fun to observe the parents too. Some are so tired that they fall asleep right away upon sitting down on our magic long bench. Others participate in the workshops and interact with me. Somehow I am always glad to be where I am. It's wonderful to be a temporary babysitter. I am constantly asked if I have children because I speak their language. I guess it's because I don't that I have time to learn their language. 


   After half an hour, the kids wave me goodbye, which is a beautiful moment for me too. To make them leave, I will remind them, "The outdoor gardens are fantastic!""The next museum is even better!" I feel I have known some more children in this world. If we happen to run into each other in the evening around NTU, they will greet me with passion. Maybe we will forget each other, but the short encounter is just great. 


   Still, I know I have stayed in some people's memory cards. 


   The weekend children's museums will last for another three weeks. You will find us from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday afternoon in front of the building of College of Life Science! 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Chance / 剛好


My Saturday afternoon in the herbarium is usually spent in complete silence. It's my perfect study away from home. The three hours are dedicated to doodling and writing postcards to my big and little friends.  


   I have planned the series I am going to draw in the herbarium beforehand, but God has a surprise in store for me. I am sent to pick up more than fifty visitors from the animal museum. However, our tiny exhibit room can't accommodate so many people all at once, so I take the children to the outdoor gardens. It chances that I have prepared more than thirty pieces of blank paper today. It also chances that I carry two packs of colored pens with me. So each child is given a piece of paper and a colored pen to draw their favorite plant. Some kids finish the task within seconds. Fortunately, it chances that I have a stack of colored paper with me. They are invited to create collages, and I do see some brilliant ideas. Anyway, I try to keep them busy for half an hour, which is amazing since I wasn't even informed of their coming in advance. 


   After the crowds leave, there come some more visitors in small numbers. Half an hour before the closure, a seven-year-old girl lingers out of love for plants. She doesn't feel like going away until her mom asks me to give her a hug. I have been working in the herbarium for more than a year, but I have never got such a fantastic gift.


   I am just a very tiny fern leaf. I don't even know how to spell the word "important," but my appearance in time turns some people's garden green for a second.