In the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Yale’s Chinese Student Association (CSA) organized a series of activities and events to raise funds and awareness on behalf of the earthquake’s victims. Among these activities, the most ambitious – and most lasting – was Reach Out China.
During Yale’s Spring Break in March 2009, several members of CSA organized a trip – Yale Reach Out China – bringing Yale students to Sichuan, China, to do a week of service as English teachers. At the time, two of the Yale-China Teaching Fellows at Yali Senior Middle School in Changsha, Hunan Province, were also searching for opportunities to allow their students a chance to contribute to relief efforts. They teamed up with Yale Reach Out and started a relationship that continues to this day.
Following the success of the 2009 trip, the Yali Fellows have continued to team up with Yale Reach Out China to offer Yali students an intensive week of community service. In 2010, we delved into issues of urban poverty at migrant worker school in Beijing. This year, from March 6-13, we explored rural development at Baisha Junior Middle School in the Fujian Province countryside.
Besides Yale, we have also teamed up with a third school, Xiamen Foreign Language School (XFLS). Students from the 3 schools divided into triplets – 1 Yali student, 1 Yale student, 1 XFLS students – to team-teach English at Baisha. This was a unique opportunity for our Yali students to intensively engage with a very different region (geographically, economically) of China, while also building relationships and cultural understanding, and exploring the idea of community service in a cross-cultural context.
During the trip, our students maintained a daily blog of their experiences and ideas, writing in both English and Chinese. Please check it out to learn more about their experience: http://www.blog.sohu.com/people/yalisuo2011.
Editor’s Note: Several of the Teaching Fellows who will be joining us as Leaders during the program teach at other Yale-China teaching sites, though they have all spent time in Xiuning. We have asked these Fellows to share their experiences at their own teaching sites in order to give you a fuller picture of education in China, providing a wider context for the project sites in Xiuning.