A group of 30 members of the IFTM Volunteer Circle visited the Second National Senior High School in Congjiang County, Guizhou Province 22 to 29 December, 2019. Students were appreciative of the support of the DSES in Macao.
Congjiang County is in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture. The poverty rate among inhabitants of the prefecture is high. Macao is assisting Congjiang County as part of its contribution to the national effort to relieve poverty.
The Volunteer Circle team was accompanied by IFTM Lecturer Mr. Stephen Sayers, who says: “This was our second trip this year to the same school. The purpose of the trips is to build friendships and assist local Junior High School students with their English learning, an obstacle for many of them trying to enter University. At the same time it provides an excellent opportunity for our own students to improve themselves through real experience. One of our students said: ‘Before I went on this trip, I thought volunteering is doing kind things for the people whose lives are not better than mine... But after I went to Congjiang I realised that volunteering is not just to change them, it will also change myself, my own psychological world. This volunteering made me know how happy it is to give kindness.’”
The outcome of the volunteer teaching project was positive. Mr. Sayers says, “We learned a lot about the reality of the students and school from our first trip in June. In addition to the general teaching requirements given by the local school for this trip we wrote a song, “Building Peace”, which we used to teach listening, phonetics and reading skills, and to share the idea that going to school develops our capacity to build peace in our families, classrooms, communities and in the world.”
Building peace begins with human interactions. One of the student volunteers said “I developed some real connections with a few girls in my class. They really shared their little secrets with me, which was out of my expectation. Before coming to the school, I never thought we would develop such a relationship, I thought we were just teacher and students, and that we would never get the chance to have such deep conversations or the chance to know each other. When they told me about their confusion and unhappiness, I suddenly realised that our actual relationship was friends.”
One of the student leaders, Zhao Ke (Coco), who is taking the IFTM programme leading to a bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management, was on her second volunteer trip. About the students she said “They will warmly welcome you when you are hesitating in front of the class. When you leave the class, they will ask if you will come again tomorrow.”
Regarding participating in the volunteer trips Coco said “This time, it seems that I have different feelings from the last. The last time I felt students' curiosity about us, this time I felt even more deeply their desire for the outside world and knowledge. It seems I have found something that I will love to do throughout my life and I am willing to persevere. No matter how many times I've been, I'm still looking forward to the next time.”View gallery