Thursday, September 10, 2009

Off to school

head shoulders knees
Originally uploaded by theory27
On Wednesday, we participated in an Education Support Launch Ceremony for rural Xiang E primary school and Puyang middle school. IBM China donated our Reading Companion software and 40 headphone sets. The CSC team reserved money from our month's allowance to give to 10 students that were selected based on financial need and top academic achievement. The school will help the students manage their money and purchase as many books and other learning materials as they could ever hope for.

These two schools were just two of those affected during the earthquake. At Xiang E primary school, lives of 200 children and 124 faculty members were lost. Those that survived were able to crawl out of the collapsed building rubble. Many children lost family members. One of the students that received a donation lost both of her parents to the earthquake. I really can not fathom the loss these children have experienced.

In middle school, 90% of students live in dormitories on campus. Their parents are farmers in more rural areas. The cost for each student's education and boarding is 200 RMB per year (approx. $30 USD). While the students do not get to see their parents often, their education will enable them to be of greater support to their families and villages in time. Girls are more likely to be sent to school and, at times, boys may be held back at home to help with chores and farming. Teachers act as teacher and parent here. Xiang E and Puyang schools have since been completely rebuilt. Campuses and dormitories are now three times their original size -- basketball courts, football field and all. The facilities are clean and beautiful. Next week they will receive internet connectivity for the first time.

After the ceremony, a few of us went to Puyang Middle School to teach English to a class of 5th grade students. So, what do you do with a gaggle of 12-year olds? Well, to start, we sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes". Games and songs are not usually applied for learning. Students wear uniforms, sit up straight for the duration of class and raise their hand sharply to request permission to speak. Persuading teachers to allow the students to leave their desks took a bit of doing. The children enjoyed all of the games. "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" was a big hit. "Old MacDonald had a farm" was fun too. We also played a game to teach our names and the name of the country we are from. These students have never seen funny-looking foreigners such as ourselves. We were quite the spectacle. The children's smiles and laughter is all the reward I could ever want today.

The ceremony in the news:

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to see the pictures from this day! I see your Brownie Scout training has served you well, Tamara. It's amazing what they get for $30/year and how quickly we can waste $30 on one item of clothing or dinner and a movie. Love, Mom