SYSU student Song Jiaying serving as a volunteer teacher in Yunnan Campus News

Last updated :2015-07-02

Song Jiaying, a MA student in the School of Foreign Languages at Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU), took a gap year to serve as a volunteer teacher in a remote village in Yunnan Province. Jiaying won many scholarships during her undergraduate years as an English major at SYSU. She earned the opportunity to study in the University of Southern Denmark as an exchange student for one year. She also took an active part in school activities and various kinds of volunteer work. In July 2014, she joined the 16th SYSU Graduate Student Teaching Team. Today, she shares with us her experience of volunteer teaching in Yunnan. 

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Song Jiaying (front row right) presenting scholarships to the middle school students in Fengqing County, Yunnan Province

Making the choice

Knowing that I was going to be a volunteer teacher in the rural area, many people felt surprised. “Why do you choose this volunteer work? Life will be tough there.” Actually, serving as a volunteer teacher and helping the children in the villages have always been a dream for me. If I could use the limited life to do something meaningful, or perhaps bring some hopeful change to others, it would be great. My parents and teachers also supported my decision, which encouraged me a lot.

Volunteering in the rural school 

Two teammates and I were assigned to Lushi Middle School in Fengqing, which is a national-level poverty-striken county. Lushi Middle School is located in a mountainous village far away from the county center. The inconvenient transportation, shabby apartment, and deficient resources challenged me a lot. Life was quite hard, especially at the beginning. But with the help of local teachers and my teammates, I finally adapted myself to this new environment. 

In Lushi Middle School, I teach senior students English. Heavy workload and high pressure make the work demanding. I always try my best to prepare every lesson. And it is rewarding when I see my students walk all the away to school and study hard in class. 

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Instructing students in class

The students here are mostly from poor families. They don’t have internet or extra books. Many have never traveled outside the county. Therefore, we organized extra-curricular activities to help them broaden their views and establish their dreams. For example, we rearranged the books and reopened the school library. It soon became the most popular place in school. We also organized English contest, art performance, etc. In my class, I often share my experiences in the university, hoping to give the students some inspirations. 

To prevent the students from dropping out of school due to extreme poverty, we carried out a series of supporting programs. Firstly, we established a scholarship fund. To raise funds from the society, we conducted researches and collected first-hand materials about those suffering from extreme poverty. During that time, I worked late at night to make the promotion materials. Fortunately, our work paid off. Sixty-one poverty-stricken students have received funding. Moreover, we also carried out other donation projects such as donating clothes and shoes to the students in need. 

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Paying a home visit

Some thoughts

One year has passed by and my volunteer teaching will soon come to an end. I have obtained much more than I have given: affections, satisfaction, experiences and the most precious memories. Learning means much more than just studying knowledge in class. Learning from others, from practices and from experiences is important as well. The world is so big and varied. Just open our minds and realize our dreams while helping those in need.

Source: School of Foreign Languages, Sun Yat-sen University

Written by: Song Jiaying, Edited by: Wang Dongmei

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