REACH

A Path Under Their Feet

Bohua Primary School is located in a ‘border region’ between urban and rural areas on the outskirts of Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province. The school’s location is appropriate, as most of the children and families it serves occupy a similar in-between space in Chinese society. Many of these families left their home villages in the countryside to seek better opportunities in the city. However, they often struggle to truly integrate into the privileged society of many people living in urban centers like Kunming.

In the neighborhood surrounding Bohua school, there are around 10,000 children and youth under the age of 18. Most of their parents work long hours in low-paying jobs, leaving early in the morning and returning late in the evening. This results in a tough situation for both parents and their kids. Exhausted parents often struggle to give their children the time, attention, and care they need to grow up healthy and well-balanced.

Migrant workers’ children often experience conflict within their families, and many of the youth in this neighborhood often develop unhealthy habits and eventually drop out of school — typically in middle school — to start working before they are truly ready.

In honor of two recent events — Mental Health Awareness Month and International Children’s Day — we thought it would be the perfect time to highlight the good work our CWEF team and local partners are doing to support the students and teachers at Bohua school and the surrounding neighborhood.

The “Life Education” course is a mental health education and resilience-building program that CWEF has developed in partnership with the Yuexing Youth Service Center and the China Youth Development Foundation.

The CWEF team and our local partners created the Life Education course with the aim of helping children like those at Bohua school to cultivate healthy mindsets and the resilience skills they will need to create a better life for themselves and their families.

To that end, we are partnering with experienced local psychologists, social workers, and other skilled trainers to facilitate the Life Education curriculum with just over 300 students from Grades 4-6.

The Life Education curriculum explores four main themes during weekly classes over the span of four school semesters using group discussions, skits, role play, movie clips, and other engaging activities to guide students to think and discuss together about their own lives, relationships, and choices.

Additionally, to further cultivate a healthy community environment for the students, our team and partners recently carried out a one-day seminar for the teachers of Bohua school, where they explored similar strategies for building their own mental well-being and effectiveness as educators.

This semester, the Life Education trainers have been guiding students to think about the different ways they can cultivate healthy relationships with family and friends. They have been learning to reflect about themselves, pay attention to others’ needs and preferences, respect the ideas and beliefs of others, give praise and offer forgiveness to others, and to understand the concept of the five love languages as a way to improve connections with others.

At the end of a recent session, the Life Education trainer led the students in reading the following phrase out loud together:

“Love is to see your own responsibility in the needs of others.”

“We hope that in the days to come, the students will have light in their eyes, love in their hearts, and a path under their feet.”

Feng Nan, Psychological Counselor and Life Education course trainer

As a way to summarize the long-term goals of the Life Education course, one of our trainers, Ms. Feng Nan, shared these thoughts:

“The more these kids grow up, the more complex things they will face — not just simple right and wrong. We hope that in the days to come, the students will have light in their eyes, love in their hearts and a path under their feet.”


You can invest in the healthy growth and development of kids like the ones at Bohua school by joining The Community with your recurring monthly or annual gift. Thank you!

Preparing for the Gaokao and Bright Futures Beyond

Each year, graduating high school students from across China face one of the biggest challenges of their young lives: the university entrance exam known as the gaokao


Like many students around the world, education in China went online for much of the spring semester. Many rural students lack reliable internet access at their homes and have struggled to keep up with their exam preparations. To allow these students more time to prepare, the date for the gaokao was delayed one month and will now take place on July 7-8, 2020.

As the test date approaches, the pressure intensifies. Students, along with their parents and teachers, are keenly aware that their gaokao scores will be a primary determinant for the future direction of their education and career. Because of this, students prepare extensively for the two-day exam, toiling away for many months during early mornings, long nights, and weekends.

For the students you support, the sense of pressure is heightened by difficult family situations. Often, a student from a low-income rural family may be the first person in their family to take the entrance exam and have chance to go to university. Many of these students suffer heightened stress and anxiety related to the gaokao, even in a ‘normal’ year. During this unique school year, students have been hit with yet another major stressor as they prepare for the gaokao – the changes and limitations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.



To help relieve stress and to help students build mental and emotional resilience in the face of the gaokao and future life challenges, CWEF held a Pre-University Workshop at the end of May 2020 for the graduating students you support in Zhaotong. The purpose of the workshop was four-fold:

  1. To understand the students’ mindset and status leading up to the gaokao, and to help them make adjustments to maintain a healthy state of mind.
  2. To help relieve students’ psychological pressure and anxiety.
  3. To share helpful tips for taking the college entrance exam.
  4. To assist students one-on-one to deal with any special difficult situations they are facing.

We invited Zhonglu, a counselor and mental health researcher, to serve as the workshop facilitator. Zhonglu serves with one of CWEF’s local partners, the Zhengxin Social Work Service Center of Yunnan’s Wuding county. During one of the main group sessions, she led the students to share with the group related to the following:

  1. My dream or biggest hope for the future is…
  2. My ‘cautious wish’ is…
  3. My current status is…
  4. Currently, my happiest thing is…
  5. Currently, my saddest thing is…

In reflecting on this session, Zhonglu noted:

“Several participating students clearly showed a strong sense of loneliness and heavy stress. At the same time, many of the students shared about the joy that came from the tight emotional connection and strong sense of community they have with their fellow students on campus. Despite facing a lot of stress and anxiety, I was encouraged that the students are finding their own ways to cope. Some students choose basketball and running, and others choose to take a break to write in a journal or chat with their classmates.”

After the students had time to share and receive feedback from their peers, Zhonglu shared some tips from her own personal experience, and closed with an important message:

“Yes – the gaokao is one of the most important things during this stage of your life, but you must work hard to treat it peacefully. If you give it too much of your attention, you will easily be defeated psychologically. This exam will have a strong impact on your future, but it does not completely determine your future.”

Thank you for your gifts that have made it possible for these young women to face this key moment of their lives with courage. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they make their final preparations for the gaokao in the coming week, and afterwards as they prepare for the bright futures that lays ahead of them!


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