"As a Chinese Language teacher, I have always believed that my duty is not confined to just teaching the language skills. It is also my responsibility to encourage my students to understand Chinese culture and to discover the realities in Modern China. Nevertheless, with my limited knowledge and resources, I have more ambition than strength to execute all my wishes. I can only be contented that I am always trying my best.
I have lived in China for 7 years during the eighties and was naïve enough to think that after the formation of People’s Republic of China, all Chinese children would be able to go to primary or secondary schools. To my great disappointment, I have learned that reality is not as such.
When Pierre Haski, representative of French Journal “Liberation” visited Hong Kong French International School in 2002, he gave us a conference on the fate of Ma Yan and other young girls in Ningxia. I felt very surprised, I could never have thought that with China’s open foreign policy and new market economics, education could become a commercial undertaking and this in turn can lead to so many children being deprived from proper schooling.
What is even more annoying is that most of those who are deprived from education are girls. Aren’t women considered as equal as men? How can we let 15 or 16 years old girls get married and start to raise children? How come in this area there is no birth control policy?
I have discussed with my colleagues and students, we all agree that a well-off school like ours should do something to help these children. But we knew that we could not react impulsively. Could we really help them? What should be the best way? At that point we did not have clear cut answers.
Soon after, we have started to communicate with the students from Yuwang, Ningxia. Then our school organized many activities like social evenings and homemade cake sales to raise money.
Since 2004, I have been making a yearly visit with teachers and students from our school to Yuwang Secondary School, Zhangjiashu village and Magaozhong Secondary School in Ningxia. Our objectives were to further understand the situation of the students and the villagers; to learn about the lives of the Muslim people and to keep communicating with them. Besides, we also wanted to educate our students that no matter who we are, regardless of our status, nationality and age, we can all do something for other people. So that when our students grow up and have their own career one day, they will still remember that in China or elsewhere in the world, there are deprived people who would be needing help.
Last year and again this year, Oxfam allow our school to form a team to participate in the trail walker event, it is another way for us to raise public awareness so as to help these lovely children in Ningxia.