To love and to be loved— A voluntary teaching trip to Bo Ai School, Shanxi
“The Chinese government has made a lot of effort in carrying out quality education in the past 10 years, we see it here. A village school in this remote Shanxi countryside made it!”. Bo Ai School helps students of Shiu Pong College (SPC) see what the exam-oriented education system in China lacks. It also makes them understand that true education is education with love.
On 27th May, 2016, Professor Leung, Master of SPC, and Mrs. Andrea Leung, Shanxi project advisor, took 19 SPC students and a college tutor to Bo Ai School which is located in Fengcun, Qinyuan County, Shanxi, where they conducted a voluntary teaching activity. The preparation of this activity lasted nearly 6 months, which include observation work in November 2015, followed by team member recruitment, preparation of teaching content, a charity bazzar that raised RMB 8,880, and practices and rehearsals of teaching, all done during the Spring semester. All SPC students and the SPC tutor agreed that they have learnt a lot while teaching the children at Bo Ai School, which made contributed a great deal to their personal growth.
Participants think that “instead of coming to teach, we have come to learn about their innocence, their happiness, their strong thirst for knowledge and curiosity”. Indeed, when the SPC students think about what they should bring to the children of Bo Ai school, they actually learnt more from them.
One SPC student said: “The most beautiful smile in the world is the pure and unblemished smile of children…they make me find out the purest beauty of human nature…what’s more, I think, the children are my teachers, they teach us the most precious things that I can never find in a city or in a book.”
Bo Ai School is a charity school. It was established by Christine Chan, a lady from the U.S. For more than ten years after the school had been built, Christine worked hard with teachers as a team, holding that they should educate their students with love. With the effort of the school, Bo Ai students have enjoyed great improvement both in their morality and their academic results. Poor as they are, they lead a happy life; the school at the beginning did not have sufficient teaching resource, but students at Bo Ai always studied proactively and received good grades; they are polite and are always willing to help others. With such excellent results, Bo Ai School has received an affirmation and subsidy from the Chinese government. Besides, many voluntary teams come to serve at the school each year.
In addition, Master Leung was hoping to provide an opportunity for SPC students to serve the children at Bo Ai school, which would help them get inspiration and enlightenment from the educational pattern of Bo Ai School. He came up with a creative idea. He first invited 4 student leaders to go to the school for a four-day observation stay in November last year. The four students learnt about the stories of Bo Ai and its spirit through observing their classes and talking with the school’s superintendent, principal and teachers. Based on what they had seen at the school, they designed a plan for the following year’s voluntary teaching trip, and recruited a group of students from whithin SPC, hoping that more students could feel the love of the school. They named the activity “To love and to be loved”, because they had learnt from the school that love is reciprocal. When the participating SPC students help the children at Bo Ai learn about the world outside, they also receive more from the children’s love.
From March to May this year, the 4 student leaders and the 15 students recruited from SPC worked on materials which can be divided into four different sections, namely, Chinese traditional value, the window of world, Science, and English, which were to be delivered to the students in Bo Ai from fourth grade to ninth grade. Besides the preparation of teaching, the students also held a charity bazaar at SPC, the proceedings of which was donated to Bo Ai school and the poor elderly living near the school.
After several months’ preparation, the SPC student team finally arrived at Bo Ai School for their voluntary teaching. For most of them, this was their first time to teach as a volunteer. They felt quite nervous at the beginning, but in the environment of love at Bo Ai School, the smiley faces of the children made them enjoy the teaching there and allowed them to build a strong friendship with the children. Some felt that they had grown a lot within a few days, saying with excitement: “What is love? What is happiness? These children have given me the answer!” Most of the students thought that the theme of this activity, “To love and to be love”, was fully realized.
In addition to the voluntary teaching, they also traveled to the ancient city of Ping Yao in Shanxi, experiencing the city’s architectural style and learning about its history from the local guide. They also went to visit the elderly living in poverty and brought them some food. After talking with the elderly, the students felt that it was not easy to be able to live a good life like theirs, and they started to have more understanding and care for the elderly. What’s more, the students experienced organic farming at the School. A student said that when she first experienced farming, it made her realize that it only took a few seconds for a person to eat a bite of vegetable, but it would take a famer several months’ effort to grow that same vegetable, and that’s why we should save food.
During the whole trip, the students not only benefited a lot for their personal growth, but also expanded their horizon. Shiu Pong College hopes to continue this meaningful activity next year, and to bring more SPC students to serve the children at Bo Ai and to help them experience the love by paying it forward.