TO：“The Butterfly That Wasn’t Painted Red.”
Good morning everyone,
This is my class from the Macau I Can Too Association. The students there have special needs. They call me Miss Lydia and I feel very honored to represent Macao in this special education forum.
Before we begin, I have a question for the audience: “What makes you qualified to be here today?” Perhaps you have an educational degree. Or maybe education is your job. Or did you…enter the wrong room?Just kidding！
I asked this question because it’s a concern I’ve heard on many parent-child education forums: “What makes me qualified to share anything? My children are not successful. They have no chance to be the next Harvard genius or Stanford star student. What I say isn’t important.”
This kind of self-doubt stems from the traditional ways we define success. What does it mean to be successful? Are we only successful if our children attend the most famous universities? Should we adopt other people’s successful parenting methods? What are we really trying to learn in parent-child education?
I am an author. Therefore, I MUST be an expert in parent-child education. But I have something to share: I didn’t bring up “successful children” as defined by traditional standards. However, that doesn’t mean that I am unsuccessful and unqualified.
Let me tell you something: parent-child education “experts” are nothing more than people who want to learn and share in this field. And when we share our knowledge with our unique voice, a magical thing happens: we accept new thoughts, we rethink the knowledge we have, we connect and learn from each other, and we go through a process of self-improvement. Like a little caterpillar shedding a cocoon, we go through change and come out of knowledge sharing, a beautiful butterfly.
In the field of special education, you face even more challenges and questions. The society has placed labels on children with special needs. These labels make it so hard for us to see our own values. My students are all unique and beautiful in their own way, and as educators, we need to remove the labels that society has put on them. They are not difficult, challenging, and troublesome. They are unique, authentic, and beautiful. They deserve to learn and feel important. And they deserve to have a voice in this world.
Here, I want to share a real experience with you. I have been volunteering in Macau I Can Too Association ,Through reading, storytelling, and learning communication skills, our goal is to allow students with special needs to find their own voice in this world today.Before my first class, I was warned: teaching these students are difficult, it’ll be challenging, they won’t listen to you. So when I walked into the classroom on my first day, I was a little hesitant and worried that I wouldn’t be a good teacher. But what I found, surprised me.
Not only were the students very easy to get along with, every one of them has their own strengths. One of them has a powerful memory and can tell me facts that I don’t even know. One of them really enjoys folding origami and likes to give them to me as presents.
Social workers there were surprised because the students weren’t always friendly to everyone but the students seem to really like me. They said it was because I encouraged the students all the time and I showed appreciation for their work.
I want to share a funny story with you about my time with them. For one of the classes, we decided to create a pen name for ourselves. My personal pen name was Teacher Sheep-Pig, so I encouraged them to choose something that they liked. So we have, Pig, Cat, Baby. Next, I asked them if they were big or small. We ended up with Big Pig, Big Cat, Big Baby.
我和協會的社工分享時，他們的回應卻是 “他們不是對所有人都友善的。他們對我友善的原因是：我懂得欣賞和發掘他們的好。”。這經驗告訴我們，只要放下固有的標籤，任何人都可以得到改善，學習從來都不需要 “有資格”。
Wow! They are confident! Between big and small, they were confident that they were big! We can see that they have a positive sense of self-worth. Psychology told us that our self-identity is important. People who know their self-identity are more authentic, happier, and content. They have more self confidence and have the right mindset to tackle adversity.
As an educator, I want to prove people’s abilities, because even someone who can only speak one word at a time can tell a story. If I can encourage them to be even a little better, then this is worth it for me. My success as a teacher is to help these students find their voice to share their feelings, share their own stories, and keep improving.
看！ 他們很自信！ 無論大小，他們都相信自己很大！ 我們可以看到他們有積極的自我價值感。 心理學告訴我們，我們的自我認同很重要。 瞭解自我認同的人更真實，更快樂，更滿足。 他們有更多的自信，並有正確的心態去應對逆境。
Success. Everyone wants a piece of it. Even the child has special needs.But what does success mean? Is there a path to success? To delve deeper into this topic, I’ve written a novella that touches on the problems with special education. In the story picture book called “The Butterfly That Wasn’t Painted Red”, we explore this question with the readers and I would like to share this story today.
“The Butterfly That Wasn’t Painted Red.”
Once upon a time, there were many little butterflies, each with wings splashed with different colors of the rainbow. The colorful butterflies loved to fly amongst flower fields of different colors.
One evening, the beautiful Red-Sunset Fairy beckoned to the butterflies.
She said, “Out of all the colors, red is the most beautiful. Red represents light. It is the color of the sun.”
One of the butterflies exclaimed in glee, “I love the sun!”
“I want to be red too!” Another added
Finally, a large butterfly decided, “We should all fly towards the Red-Sunset Fairy to paint ourselves red.”
As such, all butterflies decided to fly to the ends of the earth to find Red-Sunset Fairy in order to paint themselves into the color of the sun. “If my wings turn red, my fate will surely change!”
So they flew and flew. It started raining and the raindrops splashed against the smallest butterflies in the pack. Unable to keep their balance, they fell to the ground and never got up again.
A thunderstorm loomed near. Another group of small butterflies were hit by lightning. Their beautiful wings turned into ashes and they too, fell to the ground and never got up again.
The butterflies flew closer and closer to the sun, some of them couldn’t stand the heat. These butterflies fainted and their bodies sank towards the ground and never got up again.
After all the challenges, only a few strong butterflies succeeded in changing their wings to be the color of the sun. “Great job!” The Red-Sunset Fairy exclaimed as she decorated the butterflies with red ribbons. However, the number of butterflies had diminished a lot. Their friends’ bodies and broken wings scattered the ground.
One small butterfly was left behind while the others flew towards the Red-Sunset Fairy. Against the dark of the night.
a little star shined alone. “Why don’t you fly?” the Star asked the little butterfly.
“It’s too far! Unlike the other butterflies, I cannot fly. I will never turn into the beautiful red color of the sun. I don’t want to live in this world, please ask the darkness to eat me up,” cried the little butterfly.
“Your colorful wings are already as beautiful as they are. You don’t need red wings to be beautiful. You can stay and tell the other butterflies that they too, are beautiful just as they are. They can use their beautiful wings to fly wherever they want.”
There are many different colored little butterflies in the world, just like there are many different color flowers in the world. The colorful butterflies loved to fly amongst flower fields of different colors.
Look! The little butterfly in the story is your special child. Their wings might not be red like the sun, but that doesn’t mean they are failures and useless. They are all stars. Their existence reminds the world that every butterfly can flourish with their unique colors and every butterfly can fly wherever they want.
There’s a famous quote: “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” As a teacher, we need to remember we can’t define a student’s success from just one standard. Big pig, big cat, and big baby have their own personal stories to tell and our job is to help them find their own voice to succeed in their own unique way.
Thank you for letting me share my little story here. I am honored to tell you that this story won the Encouragement Award in the Nouvella category of the “Twelfth annual Macao Literature Award” last year. It will be published by Taiwan ShowWe Publisher. I want to bring this book back to Macau to let more people understand the importance of special education, the needs of special children, and to raise funds for their community. I also hope to give them some inspiration after reading this story.
好開心可以在此分享我的小故事，同時，我希望這個故事能夠讓大家重新思考 “成功”，以及讓特殊的孩子因而重建自己的價值。很榮幸地告訴大家，這個故事在去年奪得了 “第十二屆澳門文學獎”中篇小說的鼓勵獎，而這個小說稍後會在台灣秀威出版社出版，也希望此書可以回到澳門，讓更多人了解特殊教育和特殊兒童。也讓讀到故事的特殊人士和其家長在閱讀後得到啟發。
What does success mean to you? Everyone in this world has their own unique set of wings. Once you find yours, you too, will fly beautifully amongst the flower blossoms. Thank you.
Macau I Can Too Association
Macau I Am Speaker Association
English translation and speech tutor: Sandy Leong
Illustrator: Angel Lao
Finally, after completing the homework of this speech, I am very happy to share my views on special education with friends from all over the world, and one of the short stories in the upcoming novella, 「The Butterfly That Is Not Dyed Red.」 . I am grateful to everyone for their help, especially Sandy Leong, a renowned public speaking coach, who helped me to modify the content and guide my presentation preparation.
I am not satisfied with this speech. First of all, I can’t remember too much English, and I rarely use it . The pronunciation and intonation are both boring and not smooth. But I still recorded it at home, and because I couldn’t get the system editing function to work, I could not delete the pronunciation mistakes … However, I finally decided to make this speech public, because the ultimate goal of the speech is to change the world. The most important thing is content rather than form. As the article says, everyone can speak for themselves. Learning never needs any qualification, letting go of your ego and accepting imperfect self is the first step to success. I invite you to read the Chinese and English scripts,or, if you don’t mind the boring English of the sheep pig teacher, listen to the speech.