Movie viewing and confirmation of research topics

The principal assembled us all for the purpose of discussing the main topic of this report. When the principal used a projector to display an image of a benevolent old man, I was able to recognize, right away, who he was. It was him, that man who devoted himself to helping children with special needs- Father O’Connell.

Although Father O’Connell was very well known, we were not very familiar with his accomplishments. Thus, the principal instructed us to return and gather information. By reading reports, I was able to understand that Father O’Connell had already lived in Taiwan for 50 years, and over this lengthy period of time, he had dedicated himself to promoting mainstream education and early intervention to pave a path to educating children with special diseases. Despite having a sickly body, deteriorating hearing, and an unsteady gait, Father O’Connell, who is now 81 years old, has remained determined to stay in Taiwan to help these children. Among the numerous reports, the story that left the deepest impression on me was about a reporter who told Father O’Connell: “Everybody says you are a hero”, to which he replied “What is a hero? Where?”. The Father was not at all conceited by his many accomplishments; on the contrary he was extremely modest. Next, we will undergo a series of interviews. What interesting matters will Father O’Connell share with us? Just the thought of the fact that I will be able to meet this great man who is so passionate about Taiwan fills me with anticipation.







Gathering data and a course on mind maps

Today, the principal summoned us once again for the discussion of this research report. We organized the data that we had each researched. My introduction a more historic one, while another student focused on presenting Father O’Connell’s views and beliefs. A third student was very interesting; although his research was much more simple, he was able to focus on the major points. Immediately after, the principal showed us some mind maps from other schools. Of these, the one the principal appreciated the most was about “The Journey to the West”. This mind map was extremely detailed and very well drawn. Every character was vividly depicted and looked as if they were alive. Finally, the principal directed us to each submit one mind map.

Upon returning home, I immediately began looking up information on the Internet and drawing the mind map. The outline of the mind map included Father O’Connell’s beliefs, reason for his endeavors, his contributions, and famous sayings. From the web, I found one of Father O’Connell’s well-known quotes: “A missionary should go where he is truly needed, yet unwelcome, and leave where he is welcome, yet not needed”. The meaning of this remark is not directed towards only missionaries. Although we are not missionaries, we can still learn from the actions of the Father and help those who are in need, yet do not welcome us, and leave those who welcome us, yet are not in need.







Presenting mind maps

During Monday noon, we assembled in the principal’s office and prepared to present the mind maps we had drawn since the last meeting. Each one of us seemed to have done much preparation and I was excited to see the works of other students!

First, the principal took photos of each of our mind maps and posted them on the Internet while we thought about how we were going to present them. Afterwards, the first student began to introduce his mind map. His mind map was very unique; he used foam letters and stuck them on his mind map, one by one. As students took turns presenting their mind maps, finally, it was my turn. I was extremely nervous; my heart was beating wildly and I prayed in my heart that I wouldn’t make a mistake. I described Father O’Connell’s family, his passion, and his original intentions and persistence in founding the “Bethlehem Foundation”. As the day’s meeting drew to an end, the principal told us that we all made very exciting reports. He observed that every mind map differed greatly in both content and color. In terms of content, some people reported the background of Father O’Connell’s birth while others depicted his journey across the ocean to Taiwan. All of our mind maps were very unique and intriguing. The opportunity to participate in this report made me very happy. Through the process of discussion, investigation, and data organization, I learned how to systematically process a large amount of information and present it in an organized manner. Although the project was very time-consuming, I gained a lot from working on it.







Discussion of interview topics and practicing interview techniques

The principal gathered us in the office at noon on Monday to brainstorm and discuss how interview topics should be designed. We first submitted questions that we had thought up beforehand and found that many of our ideas were very much alike. Thus, we grouped similar questions and condensed our suggestions into a list of approximately 15 questions.

Preparation for the interview was a very difficult challenge. In addition to writing interview questions, we also needed to practice using the correct tone and expression when interviewing others. In order to train us, the principal set up a video camera in front of us and recorded our appearances and gestures. Then, he used a projector to play back the video so that we could identify our weaknesses. The video camera captured all our shortcomings and clearly laid them out for us to see. Some people would look down in embarrassment while others were unfamiliar with the questions and stuttered when they spoke. However, the principal would slowly and painstakingly help us correct our faults, identifying areas where we needed adjustment or improvement.

After a period of struggle, our performance gradually began to improve. The principal even praised some people for smiling as they asked questions, saying it was very nice. The next step would be the actual interview. Just thinking about it made me extremely nervous and I hoped that we would be able to execute it well.







Visiting Merciful Mother Kindergarten and interviewing the dean and parents

Today was the much awaited and joyful day. We would visit the Merciful Mother Kindergarten and interview the teachers and students’ parents.

Before heading out, the principal once again gave us several reminders, for example, looking at the other party’s face when asking questions, refraining from speaking too fast when asking questions, making sure to quickly copy down responses, and many others. After arriving at Merciful Mother Kindergarten, a teacher came out to welcome us. It turned out that the teacher was actually the dean of the kindergarten and she kindly escorted us to an empty classroom on the second floor. Before long, a man appeared. He was Grandfather Li, who we would be interviewing, and thus, we began the interview.

Grandfather Li had a total of nine grandchildren. Two grandchildren graduated from Merciful Mother Kindergarten while three were still attending the school. Therefore, Grandfather Li, was very familiar with Merciful Mother Kindergarten and Father O’Connell. We took turns asking questions. Since Grandfather Li had done research before the interview, his responses were very smooth. Immediately afterwards, we began interviewing the dean. The gracious dean thoughtfully poured us each a cup of ginger milk tea and we relaxed considerably. Since we still needed to understand a few details about the operation of the kindergarten, we asked the dean many questions. However, the dean was not annoyed in the least and patiently answered our questions one by one. After the interview, the principal requested the dean to give us a tour of the kindergarten and the dean led us on a walk around the school. We toured the Multisensory classroom, Sensory Integration classroom, and Infant Development classroom. We also visited the classrooms and observed many tools used by children with special needs. Classes included normal children and children with special needs and everyone interacted very naturally.

Today’s visit was a considerably enriching experience for me. I learned about the some of the bitter experiences of work, especially work that is scorned by the public. However, as long as you persist in doing what you believe is right, your deeds will eventually be accepted.










Interviewing Father O’Connell

Continuing from interviewing the dean and the parent, Grandfather Li, today we would once again visit the Bethlehem Foundation for an interview. However, this time, the target of the interview would be the main character of our research- Father O’Connell. When we arrived at Bethlehem Foundation, the students of the kindergarten happened to be playing in the plaza and we met the dean by chance. The dean brought us to the third floor, where Father O’Connell’s office and bedroom were located. As soon as we entered, we saw Father O’Connell sitting at his desk, and he politely greeted us. Although his office was not very large, it was warmly furnished. The walls were decorated with drawings gifted by others and various masks, which Father O’Connell said were also presents. Acquaintances of Father O’Connell who found unusual masks while travelling abroad would often give him one as a present.

After a brief period of conversation, we sat down and prepared for the interview. Father O’Connell reminded us that he was deaf in one year, so we would have to stand next to him to ask questions. As a result, each of us had the opportunity to talk with Father O’Connell up close. We took turns asking questions and Father O’Connell also answered our questions with great patience. I was surprised that Father O’Connell was able to speak such fluent Mandarin. After the interview, Father O’Connell asked us when our graduation ceremony would take place, as he wished to attend. We were very thrilled to hear this and hoped that our graduation would not conflict with Father O’Connell’s schedule. We also wished for this work to be able to achieve great results so that we would be able to present it to Father O’Connell as a gift on the day of our graduation ceremony.