Posted: 8/6/2009 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ]
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Category: Project Story

(An excerpt from one of my journals for class about MMK.)

After working with and teaching the migrant kids this past week, I think I still do not have a full grasp of what their lives are like. The statistics tell us there are 20 million migrant children in China. And that many of these children lack in parental love and care since their parents are often working so the the family may survive. Most work on construction projects, while others work in peddling markets and household services. Their parents often have inferior educations, with one survey saying that 20% only have a junior high education, with 60% with less education than that. The average family income is 1000 yuan. Many of the migrant children face problems, including education, stigmatization, and poverty. The quality of the teachers are often sub-par. Only 60% of the teachers have a college education. And there is a high turn-over rate among both teachers and students, which affects learning. When migrant children are able to join regular public schools, they are often discriminated against, sometimes blatantly. And it also can lead to an identity crisis of not knowing whether or not they are classified as rural or urban.

After reading about all these statistics I was expecting the kids to be poverty stricken and in need of our attention. That was probably a very narcissistic and pessimistic viewpoint. I didn't think we could do anything that would have an impact within four days. I wasn't sure what the education level would be even though we were teaching fourth graders. I thought they would act out a lot and be hard to control. Yet the kids we taught mostly seemed so happy and joyful, even if they acted out sometimes. They were very rambunctious, just like any other child you would meet anywhere in the world. Whenever we came in the morning, they would loudly shout, “Lao shi lai le!” (The teachers are here). They loved playing games (especially Big Wind Blow), singing, and dancing. They were extremely bright students, quickly understanding how to play the games and the words and motions for the songs.

However, we discovered that when we taught them English, they could recite the words but many did not understand what we were teaching them. It was quite frustrating to realize we thought they were understanding what we were teaching, but when we broke up into smaller groups, many could not answer simple questions about what we had just learned. But since we were in smaller groups, we were able to work with them more individually and teach them. From these smaller groups, there were some encouraging moments.

One of those encouraging moments is my interaction with a student named Alan. He did not come to the first day, so we only had three days to get to know him. His English speaking skills was probably the best in our class. He was very shy about speaking English though, and shy in general. We were eventually able to draw him out and learn more about him. This was encouraging to me because hopefully he will continue to break out of his shell now that we have slowly gotten him to come out a little bit. Another student that was encouraging to me was Amy. Her English may have been the worst in the class, since she understood very little and often just copied what other students would say in response to our questions. She was also extremely shy and quiet. But near the end of the day, I helped translate something for her and responded with a quiet “thank you” in English. That showed me that even the little things can impact others.

So while many of the students were shy and sometimes we could not communicate well with them, and I did not expect to be able to do much in our short four days with them, it was an rewarding experience. And I was able to learn more about the migrant floating population from the children perspective. That while they may have less, they still have joy. I wish I had been able to tell them about the greatest joy that can be found through the gospel. Especially since the studies on the migrant population show that the children receive less attention from their parents and teachers than other kids. So I wish that I could have told them about the Father they have who is always with them and always protects. I hope that since I am here for one more month I will be able to meet up with them since we gave them our contact information and they have already contacted some of us.


Linked Organizations

Organization: PESI (Professional & Educational Services International)

81 members

Founded in 1988, Professional & Educational Services International (PESI) is dedicated to international development through educational exchange and professional service in Asia. As a non-profit organization founded by Chinese Americans, we are especially interested in promoting understanding an
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When: 7/13/2009 12:00 AM to 7/16/2009 8:00 AM
78 Supporters - led by Yang Yang - updated 7 year(s) ago
MMK (More for Migrant Kids)is the specialty project of TECC Shanghai that began in 2005. We seek to improve the educational and career opportunities of migrant children in the city of Shanghai. Historically, this group has been severely discriminated against and deprived of equal opportunity....
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