"A New Dawn" Season 2: Exploring rural education in China
During my trips around southern and western China this year, I had an inspiring experience in learning about various facets of education and schooling in the country's rural areas.
Meeting, talking, and spending time with teachers, students, and other residents of these communities tells quite a story of unity, perseverance, and joy.
In this southern Ningxia mountain town, the students from Shanghai's Fudan University who volunteered to teach at local schools had a profound impact on the students there, introducing them to new ideas and mindsets.
But just as profound might be the impact the students had on the teachers.
The teaching program not only provides an opportunity for the children to understand the possibilities beyond their mountain village, but also offers invaluable experience for the student-teachers to carry into their own futures.
In Gansu, I was floored by the young children's ability to play a wide variety of instruments, both Chinese and Western, and both classical and modern.
I was even more shocked to learn that they only had two music teachers for the entire school, and the teachers also taught other subjects as well.
The pride that the students felt for their band and their musical education was incredible.
Despite hardships and difficulties, they showed amazing dedication.
In the Laojun Mountain in Yunnan Province, young artists, Li Mingyu, Li Qinqin, and Yao Wei, collaborated with local experts and teachers and designed a tailored art education program for the children living in the natural habitat of golden snub-nosed monkeys.
The children here in Guangxi were gregarious, friendly and curious, but I was saddened to learn that children in these locations fall victim to accidents of various types more often than in the cities. It's important to strengthen safety education and protocols for how to respond to these types of incidents to reduce harm.
I was encouraged to see that the schools were committed to furthering these programs to ensure their safety.
Like Zhang, the Gansu music teacher, the principal of the school I visited in western Yunnan is also giving back to the community in which he was raised.
Shi was a student at the school as a boy, later becoming a teacher and is now the headmaster. I was touched by the great deal of respect and reverence the students have for him.
The students here mostly live in dormitories during the week because of travel distances and difficulties, so the teachers bear many responsibilities in their personal lives. The students also, therefore, require extra care, supervision, and encouragement, especially at a younger age.
They band together as a community with the goal of an even brighter future.