Since there are no designated chefs in JFCC, teachers here take turns cooking and children have to help out in the kitchen. Eighth grader Luo Xiao Qin (pronounced loo-aw shi-ow cheen), who was one of the first friends that I’ve made in the care center, was arguably the most experienced and efficient helper. In JFCC, children are taught to respect adults as faultless authoritative figures, so when I went to help out in the kitchen, most of them stared at me silently and in awe: Wow, this girl really has no idea what she’s doing. Luo Xiao Qin, however, was the first one to say to me, “hey, that’s not how you hold a cleaver knife”. And she showed me how to do it properly. While most children would take away the sponge in my hand as a way to show respect and say, “let me wash it for you, teacher”, Luo Xiao Qin goes for the more practical route and asks me to divide up the work with her. She would say, “Here, rinse these knives, and I’ll clean the cutting boards.”
In Dorm #4 (one of the two girl’s dorm rooms), Luo Xiao Qin is a fearsome monitor. The younger girls all listen to her quietly as she assigns them their chores.Although she appears to be tough, Luo Xiao Qin has a sensitive side. She is loyal to her friends and protective of her twin brother. She can get hurt by a careless comment made by her peers and stay gloomy for hours. She told me that after middle school, her dream is to go to acting school and become an actress.
Luo Xiao Qin’s parents left home for work years ago and never returned. Her brother and her had been living with their aged grandparents who could not financially support them. They joined JFCC in September, 2013.