This is an interview with American International School of Guangzhou teacher Eric R Little, who has led several groups of his students on trips to work with CWEF scholarship girls. They are planning another trip for later this spring.
How did you hear about CWEF/begin volunteering? “We heard about the program at a Global Issues Network conference at the Chinese International School in Hong Kong. We contacted HKIS and then invited Dolphin and the director at the time to come to talk to us.”
You have now been on 4 trips personally; what keeps you coming back? “I love the fact that we can actually get to know personally the people we are helping. The girls are wonderful and it always motivates us to return and work hard to find more sponsors.”
Do you feel a relationship is being built between the students of AISG and those of Renhua Middle School? “Yes, definitely. It is still a little difficult to maintain contact between visits, but this is mostly because the girls at Renhua do not have regular access to email etc. But I regularly get letters from the girls for our students and I have known all of them since or work with the program began three years ago.”
Are there any moments from your time volunteering with CWEF that stick out to you? “The visits to a few of the girl’s homes stick out. It is a good reminder of how much they really need our help. Also, all of the goodbye’s. There are so many hugs, smiles and tears between the two groups of students from ‘different worlds.’ They build such a bond in less than 24 hours!”
How have these trips enhanced the overall educational experience of your students? “Our students live in China, many for many years, but they don’t live in the ‘real China.’ They live in a privileged bubble. This is a great opportunity for them to meet people who are not privileged and to get a sense of the reality in China. It also is a wonderful opportunity for our students to develop leadership and interpersonal skills. This is very much a student-organized and led project. Although it might be more efficient at times if I do things for them, they would not learn or grow so much.”
Do you have any ideas for future relationship-building with Renhua students? “I would love for all of the Renhua girls to visit Guangzhou, come to the school and attend classes on Friday, see Guangzhou, maybe visit a university and/or meet with a female business or community leader who is a successful role-model for them.”