Finding Community in Lianhua

Blake helping a elderly Chinese woman with an English lesson Several old Chinese women reading papers

Every Tuesday and Thursday for the past two weeks, Hannah and I have been instructing English at the YMCA/YWCA Lianhua Community Center. Our projects have mostly been directed towards the elderly, but they often bring along their grandchildren who have a blast playing games and doing puzzles. Last Thursday, a random group of children was just passing by, and then we had about fifteen more children participating in our “Fruits” lesson!

Four Chinese women working on a puzzle

The puzzles are printed out onto white paper and then cut into pieces with scissors. Personally, I would have to say that these puzzles are way more difficult than any boxed puzzle I have ever done because the shapes are pretty impossible to tell apart from one another. The elderly are extremely competitive with them as well. A few people in the groups became the “leaders” and batted away other people’s hands.

A group of people doing a line dance

The goal of our visits to the community center is to spend time with the elderly. Some of them do not have family that can afford to spend time with them. During our first week in China, we threw them a birthday bash, played games, and taught them the Macarena.

Blake, Hannah, and a Chinese student

Leona, a resident of the community, frequently visits the center to help us teach. Many of the elderly know a little English but are not fluent enough to understand us when we explain the rules of games or the meanings of the phrases we show them. Since she is a business English major, she speaks very good English and always helps translate for us. I really don’t know what we would do without her!

A group shot of the people at the Lianhua Community Center a strawberry made out of beads

At the end of our lessons, we sometimes take a picture like the one above for the YMCA newspaper in Chengdu. The elderly community members are always so friendly and thankful to have us here; it really is endearing. The woman between Hannah and myself wanted to thank us by making us each a little strawberry made out of beads. I’m really enjoying my internship here!

For more information on how you can get an English instruction internship in China, contact Felix Muzza at or visit our International Internships page.

About the author

Blake Bailey

Hey, I'm Blake, and I'm concentrating on political science with my Liberal Arts & Sciences: Social Science degree. This semester, I'll be teaching English in Chengdu, China, as part of an internship program. After graduating with my associate's degree, I hope to transfer to UB and get my bachelor's degree so I can pursue a career of interpreting. I'm currently learning Mandarin Chinese and American sign language, but I hope to learn Cantonese in the future! I recently resigned as Student Senate's Vice President for this internship and I participate in Anime Club and work as a student ambassador.