Joshua Lange

Deqing Winter English Camp

DeqingStudents2

December 28-30th, a group of 20 volunteers from Church of All Nations and HKIS went to work with CWEF scholarship students in Deqing, China. The Winter Camp provided English lessons to more than 50 girls. The scholarship recipients visited during this trip are all supported by EMBERThe following reflection was written by one of the volunteer trip leaders. 

“The highlight of the trip for most Hong Kong participants was the enthusiasm for learning that these girls exhibited throughout the 3-day camp. As soon as our lessons began, they gave us their utmost attention. Their palpable desire to learn confirmed that the scholarships are a wise investment in the girls’ future.

Given the challenging home situations these girls face, their acceptance to high school speaks of their persistence to learn. To enroll at either school where the girls attend – Xiang Shan or Confucius Middle Schools – students need to score in the top 1/3 of the country. As these are the two top schools in the area, the scholarship recipients are all high achievers.

In conversation with the girls, we were surprised to learn their daily schedule. Their first class is at 6:50 AM. They have about two hours in the middle of the day for lunch and a nap, and then they have afternoon classes.  After dinner, they have additional study sessions in their classrooms from 7-10 at night. They get back to their rooms around 10:15, and lights go out by 11:30 PM. They have classes all week; Sunday is the only day off for students. Our respect for the girls grew when we visited their dormitory. Each room has 6 bunk beds. The twelve girls in a room share one bathroom facility. The beds are planks of wood with no mattresses to sleep on. No lighting is available during the day, so reading a textbook during mid-day hours requires a battery-powered light. With a cold front bringing near 0-degree temperatures on Saturday night, staying warm is also a challenge for the girls.

Our English lessons focused on the theme of giving during the Christmas holiday season. Students read O. Henry’s classic story, ‘The Gift of the Magi’ in the morning. In the afternoon, the students learned about the tradition of Santa Claus. The key reading piece was ‘On Santa’s Team.’ Both stories emphasize the idea that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

In keeping with the theme, the scholarship girls and the Hong Kong group visited a local elderly home. The girls were just as attentive to the elderly as they were to our lessons. When we returned to their schools, they expressed how much they enjoyed helping older people, a form of learning that is not generally part of their education.

For the volunteers, the great gift of this Christmas trip was to meet such hard-working students who give so generously of themselves to us, to their teachers, to their fellow students, and to the elderly that we visited.”

MEET: Chen Ming

Chen Ming is from Luzhou, Sichuan, China. He currently serves as the Shanghai Education Coordinator for CWEF.

“In the spring of 2008, as I was about to graduate from university in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, the famous May 12 earthquake happened and destroyed many parts of northern Sichuan. My classmates and I heard a lot of sad stories and saw many sad images from the earthquake area. We felt so bad and cried together during that time. Like many other college students, I wanted to do something to help. I told myself that if I got a chance to help the people in the earthquake area, there’s no doubt I would go.

Right after I graduated, this chance came to me. I got to know CWEF through Toni Wang, the manager of the Guangzhou office at that time. She introduced me to the work that was planned for the area around Nanba, a small town that was badly damaged by the earthquake. I was very excited; my first job could be to help other people. I visited Nanba and decided to spend two years there.

The first year of life in Nanba was very hard. There was no clean tap water, no buildings, no air conditioner. All this was kind of a shock to me as a city boy experiencing “real life,” but the people there treated us very well. We visited many homes and talked to the mothers who experienced the pain of losing their children, only to witness their joy in getting pregnant again and having new-born babies. We climbed mountains to build water cisterns to replace the ones that had been damaged in the earthquake. We helped the local school equip their new library building with books, computers and furniture. We organized different activities to enrich the local students’ school life.

In 2011, I moved to Shanghai to help set up new CWEF programs with migrant schools, which is what I am doing up until now. In my work with CWEF, I have to deal with different issues which can be very unexpected and challenging. I always have to learn new and different things to accomplish my work. If I was working in some other job in China, I probably would just need to repeat the same thing everyday.

In Nanba, all the work we did was very welcome by the locals, but they didn’t know why we did it. At the time, I didn’t know why CWEF had asked us to do those things either. I just knew CWEF existed to help people. Since I moved to Shanghai, I have experienced some deep changes in my beliefs. I still get to learn many things in my work, but now I realize it is much more meaningful than simply how I can improve myself. Now I know we were designed to serve others. I’m happy to work with CWEF because what we do matches what I believe in.”

-陈铭 Chen Ming

Clean Water for Tangzishan

From September 22-26, Tangzishan village had some interesting guests: a group of 25 high school students and teachers from Concordia International School Shanghai. This service learning group had come to Tangzishan to work alongside the local residents to install a clean water system donated by their school and facilitated by CWEF. During their several days in the village, the team worked hard digging a deeper hole for the new cistern, digging trenches where pipe would be laid, and widening out the road leading to the cistern so that materials could be brought in.

The visiting students also had the privilege of spending some time to interview a number of the local families in their homes. One such woman was Mrs. Long Yifei. Here are a few of the questions she answered:

How is your family? Do you have any children?

Each family here is allowed two children. I have two children: one son and one daughter. My son is 25 years old and my daughter is 23 years old; they both do farm work and live in the village. Most villagers grow up and stay in the village for the rest of their lives.

How much schooling and education did your children receive?

My son finished middle school, and my daughter completed elementary school up to the third grade.

How long does it take to get water without using the taps?

Before, it took about one hour to get water, but now it’s easier to have clean water because of the taps and the pipes that will be installed. We need water to wash food, to wash our faces and feet, and for the animals. I am very thankful for the work on the water project, because it will save lots of time instead of having us walk five kilometers to the water source. 

CWEF would like to thank the community at Concordia International School Shanghai for partnering with us to improve life in places like Tangzishan and for people like Mrs. Long!

REACH: Equipping Teachers in China

From July 23-26, the annual REACH Teacher Training was held in Guangzhou, China. REACH (Resiliency Education: Advocacy, Collaboration & Hope) is a program that builds resiliency skills in at-risk high school students, many whom are recipients of CWEF scholarships. Resiliency is defined as the ability to maintain personal competency despite encountering adverse situations, misfortune, or stressful events.

The program revolves around a core of local teachers who volunteer their time to serve as REACH advocates, helping to build resiliency skills with the at-risk students at their schools through monthly activities using the REACH curriculum. This school year over 300 students from eight schools will participate in REACH with the help of over thirty local teachers in China’s Guangdong and Yunnan Provinces.

The four-day training session was focused on providing a theoretical baseline and many practical skills to approximately 15 new teacher advocates. A consultant from Hong Kong, experienced REACH teacher advocates, and CWEF staff led the training. The REACH curriculum uses participatory teaching methods to encourage students’ communication, leadership and teamwork skills. These methods are quite new to many classroom teachers in China, so the annual training session is crucial in forming a peer network among the advocates and for building their confidence in using these new teaching methods.

The goal of the REACH curriculum is to help students develop skills in five areas: self-awareness, social awareness, self- management, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Research has shown that competencies in these areas help students to be more successful in school and in life.

Many thanks to our individual donors and to LIMM (Lutherans in Medical Missions) for their grant of US$5,000 that made this training possible!

2012 EMBER Summer Camp

EMBER, with the support of CWEF conducted their annual summer camp from July 6-9, focusing on English and leadership skills for sixty of our female high school scholarship recipients in Deqing, Guangdong, China.

Volunteers from Hong Kong high schools and universities from around the world joined together to help the students improve their English and leadership skills through games, songs, acting and English activities.

A number of CWEF university scholarship students, who previously received high school scholarships, returned to help inspire and guide the high school students. Volunteers were able to visit the homes of several of the scholarship students, which provided them a window into the life of our students and created a greater awareness of the impacts of poverty in rural China. The students and volunteers also spent an afternoon visiting and singing with residents of a local elderly home. It was great to see the girls connect with other people whose need was just as great or greater than their own.

CWEF believes the awareness these experiences create is an important part of becoming a contributing member of society. We would like to thank the members of EMBER for their continuing commitment to the education and development of young women in China.

Longtan Water Project May 2012

From May 24-27 a team of volunteers from California partnered with CWEF to complete the installation of a drinking water project in Yunnan, China.  During the project members of the team spent time working side by side with villagers, digging trenches for water pipes, digging a walkway around the new cistern and widening roads connecting villages.  The sense of community and camaraderie experienced by the team has left a lasting impression on all.

Funding Needed for 2012

CWEF would like to thank our generous donors for the financial support given for successful programs in 2011.  Please consider financial support for two programs that need additional funding for 2012. 

According to Guangdong Education Bureau 51.5% of female urban students in Guangdong graduate from high school but only 12.4% of female rural students. Concordia Leadership Academy (CLA) is a mentoring program that works with rural impoverished students to encourage their desire to continue studying and teach them methods for coping with pressures of meeting test requirements, rigorous school schedules and isolation from family support while living in boarding environments. Gifts given towards a goal of HKD$ 775,000 (USD $100,000) supports participation of 240 students in the CLA program monthly meetings and workshops as well as training for 48 teachers in 8 schools.  The program will operate in 8 schools in 3 provinces during the 2012-2013 academic year.

CWEF China high school scholarships award tuition, boarding and book fees for each rural impoverished student. The majority of sponsored students are female. Students are invited to apply for scholarships after they receive the results of their high school entrance examination. Applications are reviewed based on family financial situation, test results and an assessment of the student’s intention to continue studies after high school. CWEF Scholarship program is seeking an additional HKD$ 217,000 (USD $28,000) to support education for 75 rural students in Yunnan, China. Your gift of any amount makes a life-changing difference in the lives of these students.

 

 

“Solstice 2012”: HKIS Interact Charity Fashion Show

On Saturday April 28, Hong Kong International School (HKIS) Interact presented their annual charity fashion show entitled “Solstice 2012”. The 13th annual charity fashion show, presented by the students and faculty, was a professional display of the design and vocal talents of many HKIS students. The young men and women of HKIS modeled clothing from both well-known designers and HKIS student designers. HK$430,000 was raised for EMBER, on behalf of CWEF, in support of need-based scholarships for high school students in China.

Iantha Scheiwe, executive director of CWEF, along with Zella Talbot of the HKIS Humanities department, closed the evening by thanking the participants. Elain and Sally, two current CWEF high school scholarship students from Xiangshan Middle School in Deqing, Guangdong, China traveled to Hong Kong to share their stories with those in attendance.

The speeches of both students thanked CWEF for the support. Elain says:

“Joining in CWEF, not only my life changed a lot, but also my personality changed a lot. You know, there are many interesting activities in CWEF. Every activity is different and teaches me different things. I’ve grown up during these activities. I used to be a shy girl and dared not to talk with others. I would not greet someone until someone greeted me first, but now I am an active girl. I can speak loudly in front of many people. I used to have few friends but now I have lots of friends. It’s CWEF that helped me change so much.”

Sally stated,

“I like the CWEF REACH classes, which make me happy. At these classes, I have learned a lot. I know how to study, how to live and how to be a good person in society. I also made lots of friends in these classes. They are very kind, friendly and out-going. I get along well with them. I enjoy the moment when we get together to play or study.”

CWEF would like to thank both EMBER and HKIS for their generosity and commitment to the education of impoverished students in China. Through the gift of HK$430,000, 143 students in China and Cambodia will receive scholarships to high school and university.

Build Community to Serve Youth

During the weekend of January 14-15, 2012, six current teachers and two alumni of Concordia Leadership Academy (CLA) met together in Jiangmen, Guangdong, China to support each other and to advance the CLA program.  CLA is a leadership and life skills training program developed by CWEF and implemented by middle school & high school teachers at their schools.

The meeting participants came from Xiangshan High School (Guangdong), Heshan #1 High School (Guangdong), and ECNU #3 Middle School (Shanghai).  The Guangdong schools have been involved in the CLA program for several years, and their annual winter meeting is a time for teachers to come together, share successes, learn from one another, and build community.  The two Shanghai teachers, Xie Xinchun & Yan Yingchun, are launching CLA with migrant students at their school during Spring semester 2012.  Being new to the program, it was invaluable for them to be welcomed into this community of teachers in Guangdong who see the value of CLA for their students and wish to share their knowledge with other educators.

The group discussed the purpose of CLA and ideas for how to improve evaluation of the  program’s impact.  Teachers also formed teams to plan sample CLA lessons and together they demonstrated these lessons to the rest of the participants, followed by discussion and suggestions for improvement.

We were also very pleased to have two alumni of CLA come back to join the meeting.  Jenny Xu and Ocean He are former CLA participants at Xiangshan High School.  Both are currently attending university and plan to become teachers themselves.

 

Community Health Education (CHE)

In the last six months, 20 village volunteers shared what they have learned through giving training to 1,205 Chinese villagers in basic health concepts following the methods of the Community Health Education (CHE) program.

Starting six months ago, CWEF staff trained 20 villagers in CHE concepts. Since their first training, those trainers have led an additional 33 training sessions.

Long is 35 years old. He is a  villager in one of the villages where CWEF trained local CHE teachers. He has four people in his family, including his wife, son (3 years old) and daughter (9 years old). His daughter studies in primary school. She goes to school on Sundays and returns to the village on  Fridays after her classes complete. The government  school in his village area is too far away for her to  travel there and back each day for class, so she boards at the  school during the week. Last year their family income  for the year was 8000RMB (US$1250, or 85¢/day each). Their family has been fortunate that they have not had serious illnesses.  Long’s family participated in the CHE trainings given during the fall. Since the training, his family members now all brush their teeth every day. CWEF will continue to encourage the local trainers in all of the health topics as well as monitor the village situations to look for longer term changed habits and improved health and sanitation conditions.

 

Scroll to Top