Tony Li is a junior at EF Academy New York and will be starting the IB Diploma program in the fall. He spent part of his summer vacation in Xi’an, China with the Pure Heart Foundation. Read on to learn more about his experience working with children in a rural area:
From June 30th to July 2nd, 2016, the Pure Heart Foundation organized a visit to Shijiazhuang Elementary School in Hu District, Xi’an, China. The Pure Heart Foundation was founded by two high school students in the U.S. One of them is Lydia, a senior at EF Academy New York. I am a member of this organization as well. The Pure Heart Foundation aims to give children in rural areas more exposure to knowledge by giving them books and introducing different ways of reading so that it becomes a more enjoyable activity for them.
The school that we visited has 169 elementary school students and 58 preschool children from six villages. Most of the kids there live with their grandparents while their parents go to work in big cities. Sadly, their awareness of maintaining good hygiene and getting an education are very low due to the fact that they don’t learn very much from their parents. As a result, there is a need for them to be taught modern ways of thinking and ideas if they want to live a better life in the future.
During our visit to the school, we completed various activities with the kids there. We told them some stories in English. We showed them photos of famous places around the world – I took many of the photos myself when I traveled to those places. We even designed a play based on their Chinese textbook and joined in the process of making the props that they needed for the play. We also organized a performance for the families of the kids on the last day of our visit. The kids in the school were fully engaged in all of the activities we prepared for them. We actually found quite a few brilliant actors and actresses among the students and we joked with them about winning Oscars. Honestly, it was really difficult for any of us to say goodbye when everything came to an end.
Even though our visit only lasted three days, I was greatly impressed by the kids in the school. It seemed to me that they were energetic and they cared about each other. I remember that I stayed up really late on the first night because I was preparing the activities for the next day. When the kids heard about that, they asked me to take a nap after lunch instead of playing with them. They told me that they didn’t want me to get too tired and they wanted me to rest just as much as they did. Personally, I was surprised by those words from the kids because I could hardly see kids from the cities saying that. I also never imagined to hear such words from kids of their age. More importantly, I discovered that they have a positive attitude for the future. Their attitude, which is different from most of the kids who I have met in rural areas, was the thing that touched me the most during the time I spent with them. As far as I am concerned, there are always infinite possibilities for someone to succeed as long as he has hope in himself. Therefore, I deeply believe that some of these kids in the school have the potential to succeed in the future.
As a member of the Pure Heart Foundation, I deeply believe that our efforts can make a difference for kids in rural areas. We talked to the headmaster of the school during our visit and he told us that the biggest problem for the kids at present is that they lack ideas and good habits. Other than that, they are really good kids. We believe that we are capable of delivering some good ideas that could possibly change the lives of these kids, and we want to make a difference.
If after reading this blog you also want to do something to make a difference in children’s lives, you are always welcome to join the Pure Heart Foundation. Look for information about the group when you’re at school in September.
EF Academy students are always thinking about their place in the wider world.