Manhu in Sterling, Illinois

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The second week we are in Sterling, Illinois. We are greeted with a warm welcome by a room full of Woodlawan Arts Academy staff and members.

We enjoyed a full dinner with homemade chocolate cake! The crowd included someone from China who helped to translate the greetings and conversations.

Manhu sings an a capella song of blessing. It is a great song to start the residency.

Early Monday morning, we gobbled breakfast, jumped into the bus and on the road to Sterling. We pulled the bus to the entrance of Sterling Centennial High School Auditorium where the public concert will be held this Saturday. We walked in and saw the brand new auditorium. The first workshop was for 390 Jefferson Elementary school children K-2. The second workshop was about 375 students of the same age from Franklin Elementary. Everyone is so well behaved as they listen to the music and Josh translates Mandarin to English.

Manhu prepared a song for children K-2 in age. The melody is “Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques” The children immediately raise hands and say “Yeah, I know that song.” Alan and Josh step out to the front and teach them the song and dance. It is my most favorite part of the workshop. Without any hesitation, all children participate. Some of them learn the song in Mandarin and start to sing and dance. This photo shows the students roaring like tigers.

Area communities are located near the Rock River. This is Dixon, Ronald Reagan’s home town. It was a beautiful day and we had a bit of time during the lunch break to walk by the river.

Here’s a workshop at Merrill Elementary school in Rock Falls. I asked the principal to participate in dancing. He was gracious and held hands together with students and step, step and kick.

Toward the end of workshop Josh invites students to ask questions. Many hands are raised. Some questions are about when Manhu started to play instruments, if the members are related, if the instruments are handmade. The students pay full attention to the workshop and are eager to ask questions.

Manhu sat among the students at Port Byron high school for a photo. Four days of workshops in Sterling area we interacted with over 4,245 students. They now all know Sani tribes in Yunnan Province of China.

During the lunch break we had time to visit Rotary Club meeting. Rotary Club is a local sponsor and it was their monthly meeting. Manhu sung a blessing song.