Chengdu – Pioneer Waldorf School in China
China: The beginning of the Chinese Waldorf movement was made in 2004, with the establishing of a kindergarten in Chengdu. At the same time not only the first grades of a Waldorf school developed, but also a seminar for the training of educators and teachers. Meanwhile, the pioneering phase is over: Currently the kindergarten has six different groups, and two further play groups with a total of 112 children and the school provides an educational environment for another 100 students. As the first Waldorf school in China, the Chengdu School has received an official license by the authorities in early 2012.
Looking for the roots of the Waldorf movement in China, the path leads us all the way back to 1994 to a teahouse in Chengdu, which was run by Li Zhang and Huang Xiaoxing. It so happened that two travellers - Ben and Thanh Cherry from Australia – visited the teahouse and in a conversation with the owners they told them about the concept of Waldorf education. A few years later Than Cherry founded the first kindergarten in Vietnam. But for Li Zhang and Huang Xiaoxing (who changed his name into Harry Wong for the reason of an easier pronunciation) the conversation meant a whole new beginning. At first, both went to Emerson College in England and later attended The Sunbridge Institute in the United States.
Trained and ready the Chinese couple returned to their home country with their own three children and thus, 10 years after the conversation in the teahouse, the first Waldorf kindergarten emerged in Chengdu. At the same time the Waldorf movement in China started their effort to obtain a legal basis. In 2006, the authorities officially recognized the kindergarten, while the school continued to face further challenges. Among the population in Chengdu the kindergarten had already acquired a good reputation as the teachers also accepted "difficult children", such as a single grandchild raised by his grandparents, who behaved like a little ruler.
Soon after, the 3-year training course for prospective Waldorf educators and teachers already counted 60 participants. With the help of some of the first graduates of the seminar, the kindergarten and the school continued to extend further.
In 2009, the state authorities allowed a three-year long development period, so that the school could adapt the curriculum, the school management and, above all, the building situation, to the demands that are imposed on a state-approved school. Only then the Chengdu Waldorf School will be able to complete the last step to an official approval. Until then, yet another building has to be completed and the government plans to build a railway across the school campus have to be defeated. In the beginning of 2012, the Chengdu Waldorf school took the last step to legality with obtaining an official license by the Chinese authorities.