A total of 12 volunteers from Fudan University pose for a photo. The postgraduate students have volunteered to be teachers at rural schools in Xiji County, Guyuan City, in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. [China Women's News]
"I grew up in a plain area and haven't seen many mountains since my childhood. There were endless mountains on my way from the county to the school,"said Mu Qiaohan, a postgraduate student who volunteered to be a teacher in Xiji County, Guyuan City in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Mu, born in East China's Shandong Province, is a member of the volunteeers' team from Fudan University. She recalled her impression when she first saw the county, adding that she felt a little lost at that moment.
Together with another 11 members, Mu has been working as a voluntary teacher for about one year at a local middle school in the area of Xihaigu, one of the poorest areas in China.
Mu said the one-year voluntary service in local schools might not change the fate of the students, but she hoped to help them have more chances in both life and work.
Fudan University has sent a total of 224 volunteers to teach in nine secondary schools in Xiji since 1999.
Li Qianwen said it was her first time to live in a poor mountainous area in West China and she was inspired by something that was still fresh in her memory.
She could not adjust to the dry climate and the local diet at the beginning. Moreover, the lack of water was another difficulty for her, since she could only take a bath once a week.
Now, she is more and more used to the life there, and she is excited about being able to endure hardship.
Wang Zhengxian is the only voluntary teacher on the team who works in a village.
In her words, the village has nothing to do with the word "prosperity."
It takes only minutes to wander the 50-meter-long main street, passing a few small restaurants and a post office and few stores in the village, which is about 50 km away from Xiji County's downtown area.
Li said there was nothing challenging for her except changing the minds of local students. It is a common challenge for all the voluntary teachers in Xiji County.
A student said he wanted to drop out to graze sheep and then open a restaurant or have a job when he was asked about his plan for the future.
Mu Qiaohan, a voluntary Chinese teacher, realizes that it is a nerve-racking task to make them think big.
In addition to teaching, Mu also shows documentaries and films or tells stories about the outside world to the students in her spare time.
"As long as I find a topic that can touch the students, I will take it as a good start for a conversation with them," Mu said, adding that she hoped to let them know the importance of study and the wonderful world outside.
The volunteers took some time to adapt to the local students' pace of learning at the beginning.
According to Wang Zhengxian, some of the students in Grade Nine had not mastered the material in the English textbook for Grade Seven.
"A student once said he did not like math and thought it was useless. Some of them showed no interest in study at all," Jiao Wan said, expressing her worry about such attitudes.
Jiao asked the students to summarize their study and ideas every week, hoping to know more about them. She also paid special attention to the left-behind children, offering them psychological comfort through home visits.
Given the efforts of the voluntary teachers, the local students have changed a lot.
More students began to communicate with the teacher in Mandarin and their English has improved, Wang Zhengxian said.
"Working as a voluntary teacher is more like serving as a bridge, being a channel for children to communicate with the outside world. For me, this is a very good experience. The decision was not made on a whim. Here is something I can't obtain on campus. I think it's worth it!" Mu said.
(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)