In partnership with Shining Star, a local volunteer organization founded by former CWEF High School Scholarship recipients, the GROW program works with ‘left-behind children’ in Northern Guangdong province.
The GROW program connects left-behind children with university student mentors by providing them support and encouragement through in-person visits, phone calls, special activities at their school, and facilitating improved communication between children and their parents.
Meet Zuoxin and Yiyun, two students who grew immensely through their first-hand experience in the GROW program.
Prior to the GROW program, Zuoxin was very loud and undisciplined in the classroom. His classroom teacher often reminded him to listen carefully, but he was unwilling to obey. Zuoxin’s large family of multiple brothers, sisters, and cousins resulted in the lack of attention he received at home. This resulted in his disobedience in the classroom as a means of attracting attention from his teacher and classmates.
Zuoxin did not know how to express his needs, therefore spoke in a loud voice and fought with other students. The GROW volunteer teachers sat quietly with him, explaining and guiding him on his communication skills. After one year in the GROW program, Zuoxin is more patient and has learnt to better communicate with his words instead of fighting. He is building a stronger relationship with his peers, and is growing in his collaborative skills.
At home, Yiyun lives with her three sisters, and parents. Yiyun’s mother suffers from a defect in her behavioral IQ, and has often been rejected by the villagers. Likewise, Yiyun has also been rejected by her classmates in school. In her first interactions with mentors in the GROW program, it was observed that Yiyun “seemed to know that she was being rejected, and she could not care too much about it.” She often sat quietly in the corner of the classroom and did not complain.
Prior to the GROW program, Yiyun was a member of the dance club. She was unable to express herself as a dancer, and was encouraged to try other activities like sports. She was better able to express herself through sports, and began to wear a smile on her face. She was taught teamwork through games, and experienced continuous cooperation alongside her teammates. Yiyun’s experience with her teammates in basketball and kite-flying gave her more confidence to make new friends. Her classmates also began recognizing Yiyun’s ability and confidence in sports, giving them an opportunity to get to know Yiyun. Since the start of the GROW program, Yiyun has made new friends and has become a more cheerful and expressive person.