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Amazing Dragon Boat Festival with the Red Yao Children

June 29, 2024 3 min read

yaosecret

Our team members at Yao Secret have visited the Long Hair Village countless times. While there, we often spoke English with each other, which sometimes seemed out of place in the beautiful, culturally rich environment. The locals would often be curious, asking if we were speaking English and expressing amusement at our fluency. They would sometimes joke about their own lack of English skills, and many parents would encourage their children to learn from us. Unfortunately, access to quality English language resources is limited in the village.

This recurring scenario sparked a desire within us. With two experienced English teachers on our team, we knew we could offer something valuable to the community. So, in light of Children's Day and the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival, we decided to organize an English lesson for the Red Yao children in the Long Hair Village.

Haili, our Co-Founder & Brand Ambassador, helped us spread the word, and we were thrilled to have 10 children sign up for the lesson! Our trip began on a Friday night, spent packing goodie bags for the children. The next day, after enjoying our rice vermicelli breakfast ritual and a coffee from the newly opened cafe, we got to work preparing for the afternoon class. We made rice dumplings, set up our classroom, and eagerly awaited our students.

At 2pm, a group of 11 enthusiastic children, ranging from 2 to 10 years old, arrived! We started with introductions and fun games to break the ice. Then, we dove into teaching vocabulary related to Dragon Boat Festival, including words like "rice", "beans", "egg", "bamboo leaves", "rice dumplings", and "Happy Dragon Boat Festival".

Games helped solidify their learning, and it was interesting to see how certain sounds, like those in "egg" and "festival", presented more difficulty since they don't exist in Mandarin or the Yao dialect. We were surprised and touched to see that the parents weren't just observing – they were actively listening, following along, and even saying the words out loud with their children!

The lesson ended with a celebration! The children also received their surprise goodie bags filled with stationery, storybooks, and snacks. Then, we all enjoyed rice dumplings, watermelon (a perfect treat for the hot weather), and good company.

After cleaning up, we took a moment to catch up on work and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding rice terraces. In the evening, Haili hosted us to a delicious local dinner at her home. We savored dishes like savoury tea (a local specialty), beer fish, stir-fried tofu, and passion fruit wine made by Haili’s dad.

The next day, we planned to attend the Dragon Boat Celebration at the Pingan Rice Terraces, home to the ethnic Zhuang minorities. Unfortunately, heavy rain blanketed the area in fog, greatly affecting visibility. Despite the limited views, we managed to catch a glimpse of the magnificent scenery when the skies cleared briefly for 10 minutes.

This trip was incredibly fulfilling. Not only did we celebrate Dragon Boat Festival with the Red Yao community, but we also engaged with them in a meaningful way through the English lesson.

The Longji area, and particularly the Long Hair Village, is a remote location. This fact makes the impact of our activities even more significant. We're committed to making these English lessons an ongoing project, so stay tuned for updates!

We also want to acknowledge your amazing support for our bandana launch, which sold out immediately. During this trip, we took the opportunity to source more bandanas directly from families and Red Yao women in the Long Hair Village. These beautiful, hand-sewn pieces are truly one-of-a-kind, and each one takes at least 20 days to complete!

We invite you to check out the bandanas here and support the talented Red Yao women of the Long Hair Village.

Finally, if you haven’t already learnt about traditions of the Dragon Boat Festival, check out our Instagram post explaining it here.

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