Project Week in Jiangxi
Project Week in Jiangxi

I want to elicit and protect their curiosity for knowledge, for the world and for everything.

Content

It’s Monday, the first day of this project week. Kids lined up and stood in the playground to attend the Flag-raising ceremony as usual. However, it was different from usual because students from UWC Changshu China were standing in a line next to them. Kids couldn’t help showing interest in their new friends coming from afar, turning their heads to us or whispering with each other. But when we said hi, they blushed, and immediately turned their heads away but then glimpsed at us once and again. The ones standing far away from us stood on tiptoes, trying to locate us among more than 1000 students. They were curious and eager to get to know new friends. Their curiosity brought me endless expectation of the coming teaching and learning experience. I want to elicit and protect their curiosity for knowledge, for the world and for everything.

 

  • UWC students at a Jiangxi Siyuan School (Author: the third from right in the first row)

 

Our group happened to teach the 5th graders, the perfect age to expand their horizon, and the best time to learn about the world around them. When we came into the classroom, the kids gave us a warm welcome and then became very excited when they knew the various subjects we were going to teach. During the classes they were highly supportive. They leaned forward and raised their hands whenever we asked them questions. 

  • Teaching in a chemistry class

 

After lunch, kids, holding our hands, became the tourist guides who tried to show their friends around. They asked about our names and our life at UWC. They were so passionate, warm and open to new friends and a new world. We also got to learn more about their school life, what they like, what they don't.

 

Later, when we had calligraphy and water colour painting class, the girl sitting next to me was a 7th grader. When I asked her about calligraphy, she raised her voice, and her eyes lightened up. She took each step carefully, showing her great love for calligraphy. She really softened my heart. She was so sweet and caring. I think a student would love to open her world if a teacher creates opportunities for her to flourish.

  • Attending calligraphy and water colour painting class

 

The first day of Jiangxi was great. Such valuable interaction with young kids inspired me to reflect on school education. First, I wonder if they will still be active in discussing questions with others or curious about solving problems when they are in high school. I’d like to know why most young inquisitive students would end up losing interest in the pursuit of knowledge. I am not a fan of existing exam-oriented education system. I think READING, esp. reading noble works can enlighten young minds and awaken the kindness of human being. Secondly, we need to think about how to maintain a long-term relationship with the local students after we leave”. What is the objective of project week? These questions may sound idealistic, but I think there must be better answers. I haven’t got ready-made answers to the first one, but my answer to the second one is to put UWC values into action. We made it by "uniting" with those students, instilling UWC values in them, sharing our experience and understanding of the cultural diversity.  We are doing our bit to serve the world in our special way. The most important thing is we raised the awareness in the minds of those students that everyone can serve the world and help those who are in need. 

 

I learned how to discuss rationally with my peers about class design, teaching method and material adaption. I’ve learned how to respect different voices and try to seek another way out, instead of judging others. I also realize that human beings sometimes are culturally biased, so I need to show empathy for people around me. Later when I face conflicts, I’d love to listen to and analyze more different perspectives.We need to understand what causes the difference in values and cultures, so as to create a more nurturing and harmonious world.

  • Help local students with English pronunciation

 

This experience also inspired me to reflect on other issues.  Firstly, I start to think what makes a good teacher? I used to put knowledge on the top of everything because I think it is essential for a teacher to be professionally knowledgeable. Then it is also critical for the teacher to have good personality or charisma. A good teacher should be caring, empathetic, sensitive, compassionate and passionate about teaching. I am very lucky to meet teachers who always trust and accept me as who I am. They convince me that I am important, and unique and I can become a better self. Teachers like this could inspire students to think more independently and have great confidence in themselves. I think students at Siyuan School should also be inspired and empowered. 

  • Local students expressing thanks to a UWC student

 

Secondly, I tried to interact with the class in an encouraging and empathetic way. For example, I would say “Am I clear?” instead of “Do you understand?”. It sounds more comforting because it implies that it’s OK if you don’t get the point, but “Do you understand” implies that it’s your fault when you fail to understand the teacher. Teachers should respect and care for every single student, to give them hope, keep inspiring them to pursue their dreams.

 

I feel grateful that teachers in my life have taught me this great lesson and I got the opportunity to exercise UWC values, especially empathy in a Siyuan School. I really appreciate that UWC has created such a nurturing and rewarding experience for us. 


Written by:Qing Zhao, Pre-DP, Media Group

Photo:Paul Montbriand, Chemistry Teacher

          Kecheng Qian, Pre-DP, Media Group