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【China Daily】Volunteer looks to leave a lasting impression

[ 添加日期:2014-07-14 点击率:4462 评论数:0 条]


Clockwise from top right: An Yueqi talks with a father about his children's academic performance.
 An visits a student's home to provide extracurricular guidance.
She brings donations to left-behind children in Dashi village. 
She believes that education is the only way to bring them hope.
 Photos Provided to China Daily
There are still many remote areas in the country where education facilities are backward and teachers are scarce. In Dashui district in Guizhou province, for instance, which is home to many ethnic groups, including the Miao and Yi, children face the hardships of learning with limited educational resources.
In July 2012, An Yueqi, a graduate from Huazhong Agriculture University, volunteered to work at Dashi Hope primary school in Dashi village.
"I am lucky to do such a beautiful thing in such a beautiful age," says An.
The school is like an isolated island in a tempestuous sea, as it is located deep in the rugged Wu Meng Mountains. The nearest town is 4 kilometers away along a tortuous mountain road.
An knew that the conditions would be poor before she set off. But the toilet was still a surprise, and a scary one at that. It was far from her dorm with grass surrounding it, and she was afraid there might be snakes. To give herself courage, she kept a dog, which accompanied her on all her trips to the outhouse.
The school had more than 100 students when An was there, and more than 40 percent of them were so-called left-behind children who remain in their hometowns while their parents work elsewhere.
"Almost half the students were left-behind children, living poor lives. Although some of their parents can offer them better lives when they come back from the cities, they endure hardships when their parents are gone."
Each weekend, An visited the students' homes with other volunteers. Many of the children left behind by their parents drop out of school because they lack parental guidance. An wanted all her students to finish their studies. In order to persuade two students who had decided to drop out to return to school, she told them that if they decided to leave, their parents would have to pay for what they had received from school for free. Fortunately, the kids believed her.
"Education is the only way to change lives or else there would not be any hope," An says.
"For a whole year, the only thing I focused on was treating the kids well."
She recalls that in one test, the students cheated while An was out of the room, which she says made her very sad.
"The test was to check what they did not understand, but they just couldn't see that," she says.
However, her devotion eventually won over the kids.
Wang Qingqing, a 12-year-old boy, wrote in one of his essays: "Teacher An is the best teacher I have ever had. She not only teaches us learning skills but also increases our interest in learning. We have made good progress and are very happy."
An says the children express their appreciation of her very simply. "The girls picked me flowers, and there was a boy who left mussels outside my door."
An was born in 1991 and is a typical city girl. Although she's an only child, her family supported her decision to volunteer at the school. In fact, her interest in charity work was fostered by her father. She still remembers her father taking her to donate to flood relief efforts in 1998.
During her volunteer year, An sponsored five children a nd got in touch with five companies who donated 20 computers and over 200,000 yuan ($32,246) to two Hope schools. A nd during her six years with the Benyu volunteer service team at Huazhong Agricultural University, An helped more than 20 hearing-impaired and mute children.
An met Xu Benyu, her hero when she was young, during a welcome activity for freshmen. "The man who made an appearance in my imagination many times was now standing in front of me," An recalls.
Eleven years ago, Xu Benyu gave up the chance of further postgraduate study a nd went to teach poor kids in a Guizhou village primary school. Under his auspices, the Benyu service team grows stronger and stronger every year.
There are more than 1,200 volunteers working in remote villages all over China a nd now in Zimbabwe.
Last December, they received a letter from President Xi Jinping, encouraging them to keep on going, which made An feel even prouder.
"Education is something that lasts a life-time," she says.
liukun@chinadaily.com.cn
(China Daily 07/13/2014 page 5)

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