During the past Christmas holiday, a group of 16 UM students in which 4 of them from honor college and Resident Fellow Dr. Caixia Chu conducted an eight-day service-learning and cultural exploration trip to Bizhou village, Fujian province, where they had a very special Christmas.
The first part of activity is voluntary teaching which consists of two parts, i.e., whole day winter camp and teaching in primary school and kindergarten. The winter camp was held in the form of carefully designed group activities incorporating the concept of environmental protection, while the courses included but not limited to public speaking, music, Chinese poem, biology, brain science, psychology- the areas which the local education doesn’t cover. These activities and courses aim at inspiring local students’ imagination, creativity, improve their confidence as well as broaden their horizon.
Apart from teaching, students also engaged in cultural exploration. Guided by the former primary school principle, students visited the old houses in villages and watched the traditional kong fu and lion dance. Furthermore, they also went to the surrounding areas such as Yongding and Peitian to visit the “round house” and ancient village. From these trips, students got a deep understanding of Haka architecture, history and culture. They were amazed how they value education in the past.
Although Bizhou primary school has been equipped with a brand-new teaching building and high-standard infrastructure under the government’s financial support, students are particularly in lack of liberal arts education courses and rich extra-curriculum activities, which we mainly aimed at. Through the winter camp and courses, local students’ teamwork ability, creativity as well as imagination were greatly improved. Besides that, they also learned practical skills and knowledge such as how to make public speeches and how the brain could fool us in different circumstances.
While providing voluntary service for the local students, voluntary teaching simultaneously benefited students from UM a lot. Their communication skills, leadership, organizing skills, teamwork and spirit of service were improved. In their reflection journals of the trip, students reflected on how effective teachings are and also analyzed the challenges facing rural education. Lastly, no doubt that our volunteers built up deep friendship with the local children. They continue to help the local students work on their assignments through wechat.