Under the Same Blue Sky, We Are Friends
---Study Group to China from CI-CCSU Visits Baifosi Primary School for Voluntary Teaching

[Source]    Confucius Institute at Central Connecticut State University [Time]    2018-06-14 12:07:56 

On May 18th, a study group from the Confucius Institute at Central Connecticut State University (CI-CCSU) visited Baifosi Primary School for voluntary teaching. The School is located at Xiaojing Town, Dongming County, where the Major Secretary is duly appointed by the People’s Government of Shandong Province in charge of poverty alleviation. The event was organized by the Shandong Normal University, a Chinese partner of the Confucius Institute, to allow the student delegation of the Confucius Institute to China to learn and experience the rich traditional Chinese culture, closely observe the state of Chinese basic education, and understand the development and changes in China.

Study group members and students of Baifosi Primary School

Hao Yingwei from the School of Information Science and Engineering of the Shandong Normal University briefed the study group on the specific work of the Chinese government to advance poverty alleviation and education support. This gave the teachers and students from the study group a glimpse of the Chinese government’s rural revitalization plan and its goal and requirements of accurately helping the poor and eliminating poverty.

Awilda Reasco, Director of the Educational Opportunity Program, Robert Wolff, Director of the Honor Student Program, and Mei Zongxiang, study group leader and Associate Director of the CI-CCSU, donated to the Baifosi Primary School on behalf of the study group hundreds of English books which were carefully chosen by the group members and were most popular with American primary school students.

Book donation ceremony

Under the guidance of local teachers, the students of the study group, divided into two groups, led the pupils to carry out cooperative learning with the characteristics of American teaching in English classes at the fifth and sixth grades. The pupils were surprised and curious to see these new teachers with very exotic appearances. They greeted each other with the other’s mother tongue.

Teaching demonstration

In the class, each American student sat with several pupils to form a group around the table. They studied and talked with each other. The new teachers worked hard to overcome the difficulty of communicating with the pupils by either using blank papers instead of a blackboard to sketch figures and objects, and vividly interpreting new words; or demonstrating with hands and feet and encouraging pupils to imitate and repeatedly read the phrases at the same time in order to deepen their impression; or patiently sitting closely with each pupil, reading the sentences in the textbook line by line to correct the pupil’s pronunciation. One word or one sentence is a world. The ensemble of friendship goes beyond languages and racial differences and plays fetching symphony between these big friends and children. After class, every pupil sent gifts made by themselves such as facial makeup in Beijing Opera, sachet of Dragon Boat Festival and Chinese knot to their American teachers.

Group instruction

Group instruction

Group instruction

Group instruction

Blackboard newspaper

After class instruction, the teachers and students of the study group to China and local pupils played games such as the bean bag throwing, rubber band skipping, rocking rope and the Eagle Catches the Chickens. The hilarious and amused activities made joy effused on everyone’s face. The villagers nearby who heard the news also came and joined the activities. The old lady over 90 years old joyfully watched the first batch of foreign students visiting the village.

High five

Eagle Catches the Chickens

As the activity waned to the close, everyone sat around and the American undergraduates were invited to give a performance. The dynamic girls and boys sang and danced and waved hands to lead everyone join them. At the beginning, the pupils were a little shy, but during the music interval, as the American teachers ran to them and held their hands to dance together with the American pop music, laugh and sweat pushed the whole activity to the climax.

After the activity, the pupils came to find their American teachers to hug and say goodbye again and again, reluctant to separate. They surrounded the bus of their teachers reluctantly and waved to each other, shedding moved tears.

Student Isis Decoatch wiped tears and said, “The activity is too short and I want to stay with those children one more day and teach them more English dialogues.” KamilAnusz said, “Everyone thought that we came to help them, but the truth is that we didn’t realize the energy is bidirectional. These students areeager to acquire knowledge even in such a tough situation, which is very encouraging to our American students.” Mohammad Khan who has rich outbound travel experience expressly came to appreciate the led teacher and said, “this voluntary teaching activity is incomparable, expanding horizon and touching heart. After the contact with the children living in poverty, I value the opportunity as a scholarship student more than ever and I am determined to help more people getting rid of poverty.” Awilda Reasco, the leading teacher who just played a game called “fighting with knees” with a retired teacher, praised the good spirits of China's elders in rural areas. College students from CCSU still miss their Chinese friends in Baifosi Primary School on the plane back to the United States.

Before this activity, Shandong Normal University and CI-CCSU did a lot of preparations, from contacting and consulting with the supported teaching school, dividing teaching groups, and preparing lessons to preparing gifts thoughtfully, during which love was filled in the hearts of everyone. The students of the study group to China come from CCSU’s EducationalOpportunity Program and Honor Student Program respectively. This combination is initially in the hope that students from different ethnic groups and different family backgrounds can learn from each other and integrate better through the program to China. The American students of the EducationalOpportunity Program were from low-income families, most of whom were ethnic minorities. Through this program, they went into communities, appreciated and reflected on what they already had, and supported for poverty alleviation plan of the Chinese government. The students of the Honor Student Program are the most outstanding ones who got scholarships. After the teaching activity, the “outstanding students” had a better understanding on the hard-won educational opportunities of the students in the EducationalOpportunity Program. At the same time, they discussed on global issues such as poverty, government behavior and social justice, and had in-depth discussions on how to better shoulder youth leadership responsibility in the process of globalization. Finally, they all agreed that the voluntary teaching activity in Baifosi Primary School marked the most instructive and unforgettable day during this tour.

During this tour to China, members of the study group not only experienced China’s rich cultural heritage, modernized city construction and the speed of high-speed railway, but also felt China's development and change under the efforts of the Chinese government. Particularly, they were deeply impressed by China’s education assistance in backward areas. The success of the “Under the Same Blue Sky, We Are Friends” voluntary teaching program is beneficial to promoting the friendship between both peoples and strengthening learning and exchanges between students from China and America, which stands for a strong interpretation of “cultural confidence”. This plays a positive role in helping the teachers and students in America know the present development situation of China’s contemporary society comprehensively, and promoting China’s excellent traditional culture.

The TV station in Dongming County reported the whole event.

Story by Mei Zongxiang and Liu Yiying


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