Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star (in Mandarin)
On Friday mornings, at the Multicultural Rhymes that Bind at Ellerslie Baptist Church, the program is a mix of Mandarin and English children’s tickle, action, and bouncy songs and lullabies.
My first encounter with the large group, about 70 people, brought me far away from my daily English speaking life. I was welcomed immediately by all the smiling faces, and was in awe of the group and how important learning my language was to them. The room was bursting with grandparents, moms, dads, toddlers and babies, all singing Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star in Mandarin.
The demand for the program was so overwhelming, it had to be split into two. The second location is at Edmonton Intercultural Centre (McCauley School) on Tuesday afternoons.
Multicultural Rhymes that Bind is a one-hour program. The partner agencies often extend it a second hour to provide other learning opportunities for the families, ending with a fun arts and crafts activity to encourage fine motor development in the children. A healthy snack is provided afterwards to give the families a chance to develop friendships and share their stories.
It all started when, in 1997, Miranda Fung, a community health nurse, saw a huge need to form a Cantonese-speaking parent group in the Chinese community. Cantonese was the language of communication at that time as few people were speaking Mandarin. She formed partnerships with Capital Health and Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative to help with the expansion of the program. Miranda then became a trained facilitator to provide the Rhymes that Bind programming, and a partnership was formed with the Centre for Family Literacy.
The families communicate their love of the program continually to the facilitators through comments made at the end of the session.
Some of my favorite comments are:
“Because I love it! It is good for my whole family.”
“We feel less isolated as a family. RtB helps us integrate into English-speaking community.”
“My child feels less stranger anxiety, he has learnt to make friends and laugh and have fun.”
“RtB shares the harmony of songs and I enjoy the beauty of music.”
“I feel like a hero as a parent because I know all these songs I can sing to my child.“
Having the opportunity to be a part of Multicultural Rhymes that Bind adds a unique dimension to my job. I am thankful to be able to provide the opportunity for other cultures to do Rhymes that Bind.
Please check our website for all the Rhymes that Bind locations in Edmonton.