Everyone has dreams, my dream is to give children around the world knowledge about Chinese characters in a creative way.
Each Chinese character is a word as well as a picture, a story as well as a world. This is the unique charm of China’s ancient writing system—one word can fill an entire book.
By delving into the deep feelings of children’s bottom-heart, the restoration in the childhood perspective, and the interpretation under brush, we can make Chinese characters something visible, tangible and approachable for them.
This is the big dream of a little girl, a dream from China for the whole world.
2. Origin of Dream
I am Fan Jiafei, my dream, germinated thirty years ago when I was still a school-aged kid. While learning to memorize and write Chinese characters, my little heart was occupied with anxiety, because I didn’t understand why each character must appear in this way, why two characters so lookalike have totally different meanings and pronunciations. Therefore, I was frequently punished to write the wrong character over and over again, or scolded by teacher in front of my classmates.
This picture left deep imprint in my little heart, naughty classmates’ laughter and teacher’s scold deeply hurt my self-esteem. And, I put all my hate to the Chinese characters, how come they were so complex and difficult to learn! After that, I felt reluctant to learn more, gradually I missed the most important phase of one’s life for enlightenment education.
Because learning Chinese made me feel so frustrated, I began to consider myself as a stupid kid. I lost my confidence and stopped talking to people, I would rather stay in my little world. Fortunately, I found my happiness in painting and couldn’t stop. From elementary school to university, I was totally immersed in the world of painting.
Since 2001, after graduation from college, I started my own business by giving drawing and painting lessons to kids, and this has lasted for 15 years. In my classes, the youngest student was 3 years old, most children are of school-age children. During close contact with their parents, I heard moms talking about how difficult and boring their children felt in learning and writing the Chinese characters. I shared their worries and often thought about how to help their children learn chinese characters while painting. Until one day, a girl named Zhang Xinjie came to my drawing lesson, her mother showed me her homework book, she was punished to rewrite the whole textbook passage for one character miswriting. And the same situation happened a lot, therefore her daughter was kept writing and writing many times till mid-night. Looking at the painful expression on Xinjie’s mother, and the blank wronged helpless expression on Xinjie’s face, at that moment, as if I saw my childhood own in the mirror! At that moment, I clearly felt the waves of pain still hurt my wounded heart, also at that moment, there is a sense of mission rising up from my bottom-heart.
I decided to do some thing meaningful for the pre-school and school-aged children, I hope all the children can learn chinese characters in a interesting and creative way. I would assist them to learn characters from understanding character’s origin and evolution history, and to feel character’s loveliness during the participatory games, performances and stories, and in the process of painting, children restore character’s vitality and then finally build up the strong emotional bond between kids and characters.
I remember the first time in my painting class I tried to tell kids about the original meaning and evolution of the character love , then I let them draw the character by their understanding. I have to say, all the parents, including me, were shocked when we saw what they have accomplished.
This encouraging attempt suddenly opened a window in front me, a new idea flashed in my mind: the commonly used Chinese characters can be developed into a picture as courseware, so that preschoolers can learn them actively in the world of character-painting.
Children are gifted with great potential. After I shared them with the hidden stories of the characters, and then provided them with appropriate material, they all became creative artists. They burst great enthusiasm towards the old beautiful pictographic characters. Their imagination and understanding is far beyond adults.
I am happily with the children in painting activities, I see they regain the vitality of Chinese characters, and the emotional bond between the child and the characters grows day after day. More than that, by telling the relevant story of a character, I have increased their knowledge, and gladly opened a door of learning for Chinese begin learner and traditional culture enthusiasts around the world!
4. Dream Comes to the Reality
With active support of parents, I have selected several kindergartens/preschools in different conditions to give character-drawing lessons. I gathered first-hand information and collections to develop and modify the courseware. After five years of efforts, Jia Fei Hua Zi– Chinese Literacy Immersion Learning Methodology is launched.
So far, my team and I have collected hundreds of works of masters bearing the most pure innocence of children, all are my students.
5. Dream Is About to Sail
Through years of efforts, our team have developed original courseware for 2500 frequently used Chinese characters, to make Jia Fei Hua Zi – Chinese Literacy Immersion Learning Methodology to be really seen and understood.
At this stage, to introduce Jia Fei Hua Zi – Chinese Literacy Immersion Learning Methodology to the public, we need publicity platform, and continuously enrich its theoretical system. Thus, we plan to establish collaboration with more advanced research centers, educational and elementary education institutions by organizing exhibition and lectures as the first step.
Using the same inborn universal language of all children around the world to learn our Chinese characters, carrying this dream, Jia Fei and her team is about to sail.