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We taught them, they taught us: an unforgettable experience in Xiaoliang Mountain
Author:Zheng Zicheng  Date:2020-12-15  Clicks:


 Children are discussing

This summer, while most of us stayed at home, some students experienced a totally different holiday, being voluntary teachers at a primary school in Xiaoliang Mountain, Gong’an Yi Nationality Township, Jinkouhe District, Leshan City, Sichuan Province. Most of the inhabitants here live by tea production and processing. The local government has exempted the tuition and meal fees of students here, otherwise they would have to drop out of school.

The village in Xiaoliang Mountain

This voluntary education program was organized by Sunners (Zhongtaiyang in Chinese), a student charity group of Wuhan University. The program comprises a series of games, thematic activities and courses, mainly aiming at developing the teamwork spirit of the children and bringing the latest outside world information to them. Courses covered a variety of disciplines including geography, English drama and science.

As a voluntary teacher, An Lan participated in this program, teaching and living together with the kids there during the entire August. “I really had an unforgettable summer holiday with those lovely children,” shared An Lan as soon as she came back from her voluntary work. Even though she came as a teacher to convey new knowledge to the children, it turned out that the children there gave her more inspiration than she had ever expected.

Children playing games

An Lan deeply engaged in the program, during which she carefully observed children’s performance. “Though living in a relatively remote place, they weren’t that different from children in cities as historically older village-related documentaries had depicted,” An Lan continued with a sweet smile on her face, “some of them were born to be abandoned by their parents, however they didn’t regard it as a great misery, just living on and accepting it in a positive way.” In her eyes, children in the mountains didn’t seem to be ignorant or even isolated. On the contrary, they knew about the outside world through television, mobile phones or other electronic devices. They were just confined here temporarily due to the financial circumstance of their family.

Besides, the most distinct character and also seemingly the common ground of all the children there was their consideration, showing much more care for the change in others’ emotions. An Lan mentioned a scenario she remembered well during this period: the moment a female student found An Lan had a stomachache, she brought a bowl of tonic to An Lan and asked her to drink it. Not long after that, the girl’s mother came to An Lan and explained regretfully to her that the tonic was intended for irregular menstruation not for gastrointestinal upset. However, the girl’s eagerness to show love for her was still so touching that she was moved to tears. The warmth from those children inspired and encouraged her every time she felt upset.

Volunteers participating in this program

Countless times during the program, An Lan couldn’t help herself thinking, “What wonderful kids!” Any example picked from a sea of memories would be touching still. The children exchanged diaries with their tutors (An Lan was one of them) every night, in order to better learn about each other and express inner feelings. However, some naughty boys didn’t pay much concern to it and only muddled through their work. One evening, An Lan drew a map of China, pointed to the southern and western parts and said, “You are in Sichuan Province, and I am from Guangdong Province. We were so far away before, but now we meet each other. There is such a huge population in China, so it is really a stroke of given luck that connects you and me. I sincerely hope that whenever or wherever we recall this time, we will feel complete happiness for the time we spent together.” That night, one of those naughty boys wrote three sentences in his diary, “I hope we will meet again. I hope we will meet again. I hope we will meet again.”

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Children’s artworks

An Lan displayed many photographs which were taken during that period. From the interactions between herself and the children, she felt that this education support program is more than a thoughtful gift given to mountain kids. She was truly moved by all the warmth and kindness that she received in Xiaoliang Mountain. Despite them not having been born into a well-off family, their attitude towards life and destiny is what touched her the most, just accepting life like accepting oneself, regardless of merits or drawbacks.

 

Children playing games

Photo by An Lan and Sunners

Edited by Qin Zehao, Luo Yuanyuan, Li Yushan Sylvia and Hu Sijia


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