Baiji School 2013
Social Service Projects have been an essential part of the Melton Foundation activities for several years now, with a focus on education and raising awareness. The education and awareness takes place on both ends – with Fellows learning as much from the communities as the community members learn from the Fellows.
One Melton Foundation project furthering the goal of education is the ongoing one in Baiji County in China, being carried out by Melton Fellows from ZU campus.
Baiji County is a five-hour bus ride from the city of Hangzhou. On a recent trip to Baiji, nine Melton Fellows from ZU and two volunteers from ZU Red Cross Association shared their experiences with children of different ages. The theme of their four-day project visit was “dreams.” One of the Fellows explains the reason for the theme: “We wanted to know what dreams these school kids had and what their parents and grandparents’ expectations were. We wanted to give a new perspective about the world and about themselves.”
The Fellows began by holding sessions on communication, mutual respect, conflict resolution, cultivating hobbies, and expressing ideas freely. On another day they conducted a sports meet, having the students compete in games like the relay race, three-legged race and patting the ball. Through the fun and games, the Fellows taught them the importance of teamwork.
Once the students were more comfortable with speaking and sharing their ideas openly, the Fellows raised the topic of dreams. They played a video of several primary school kids from the southeastern countryside sharing their dreams about the future. After the video they introduced speech skills to the students and demonstrated how to make a good speech. Then they invited all the kids to describe their dreams and gave them the assignment to prepare a speech about their dreams.
The exercise in thinking about dreams for the future was a novel concept to some of the students who had never been asked their hopes for the future.
However, the most eye-opening experience on this trip was the visits Fellows paid to the homes of the different children. They were astonished to find out that there were many children who came from single parent families. Many of the single-family households were due to poverty, with one parent leaving the village to earn a better living in the city. But, the grandparents of the school children played a vital role in these students’ lives. The Fellows’ discovered that even though the grandparents had undergone many hardships in their lives, they still demonstrated endless optimism. Talking about their grandchildren’s future, grandparents smiled and said they would agree with any choices they made.
This four-day activity not only gave the students in Baiji exposure and knowledge of teamwork, communication and educational opportunities, but also deepened the Fellows’ own understanding of the current situation and developments in the countryside in China.
The experiences of the ZU Melton Fellows on their visit to Baiji is available in a serialized form on the Melton Foundation website.