Summary personal reflections

Personal summary by Yang Qian - Foreign Language Institute


The 12 days I have spent in Pingtoushan-Kaiyuan in Yunnan Province in the "support education" activity is probably the most memorable experience of my whole life.

As we arrived to Pingtoushan, the feeling that the kids gave me was one of warmth. Because we did not know much about the school situation, the children were providing us with a lot of information. The ones who made the deepest impression in me were Tao Meigui and Tao Hui. They both look very mature, especially Tao Meigui, she would take the initiative to help me get and carry things.

After being together with the children for a period of time, I came to understand their lives and ideas. After getting to talk with the children, I came to know that many of these kids only eat once a day. At noon, the school will provide them with milk, eggs and snacks, but you can clearly see that the children here are all very slim and short in stature.

The children here do not have any idea about the outside world, they do not know the difference in between their lives and that of the outside world. One of our team member, Yan Jun, said that many children asked her where did she come from, from what village did she come from. She didn't know how to answer. At the end she told them she came from a university in another place, but the children were still asking her in which village was this university. It seems the children here only have the concept of village. Yan Jun said that the children here do not feel they are poor, and they satisfied with whatever they have now, the concept or idea of the outside world isn't clear to them at all. Yan Jun said the children even asked her if the Japanese soldiers could come to here. It seems that the concept of time here has stopped at the anti-Japanese stage.

In class, I also discovered some problems with the kids. In the first lesson, I taught them: "What is your name?" "I am, my name is, good morning, good afternoon, good evening", I hope that the children may have some knowledge about themselves, be brave enough to say their own names, to be polite. In the second class, I taught them: "thank you, you are welcome. Sorry, that is alright. Hi, hello. Goodbye". For the children is very easy to imitate the sounds, but for them to remember the words was more difficult. They would forget immediately whatever they were taught. After making them read and reading alone, the children at last were able to remember these words with some difficulty. There were two times when the children would cry while in the classroom, and it was never because they were hit, but because they were scold. I always stressed that it was forbidden for the children to hit or scold somebody else, because hitting and scolding will make the children cry. I didn't know what to do. It seems that these acts of violence or verbal violence, like hitting and cursing, are very common among the children here. A student called Cui Hua told me that when her younger sister was not behaving well, she would tell her, and then go to beat her. Beating is the most common way of education among them.

Being together with the children has given a lot of beautiful memories. Once, they invited us to go up the mountain to play. We had one child clinging to our right hand and another one in our left hand. The scenery on the mountains is very beautiful and the views are wide open. The yellow mountain is not completely covered with vegetation, and there are some clouds on the horizon. If you look back, you can see the village and the distant city of Kaiyuan. A very shy kid is willing to get close up with me. He is holding my hand. We arrive to a place and many kids run up the mountain to pick up local wild plants. They picked a big bunch for me. I ate quite a few, the taste is sour, but they are delicious. The rest of them, I distributed among the children. Some of the kids did not seems to want to climb the mountain, but they were wanting to eat the plants, so when I handed the plants to them, they immediately ate them with gusto.

This time, the "support education" activity gave me a great shock. I can see the Government's efforts in bringing education to these remote areas, and I could also see that most of the children are unable to change their fate. The change of minds can only come slowly generation by generation. But the development of the children will be very closely related to the development of the country as a whole.

I wanted to bring something to them, but it seems that they have been more influential and meaningful for my own education!!!.