This summer in 2016, a new batch of teammates from HeartFire Education and Dandelion Project visited Shatan School in Renhuai, Guizhou again.
This year from May 31 to June 10, 18 teammates from HKU, CHKU, PolyU, CityU, HKBU, EdUHK and HSMC gathered together for one purpose: the service trip to Guizhou. It’s the second trans-college trip organized by HeartFire Education, with the cooperation with Dandelion Project.
Let’s see what happened between students in Shatan Village and our teammates this year.
1. Pre-trip workshops
Before departure, we held four workshops for teammates to prepare. The workshops aimed at deepening the understanding of our goals and designing the activities by group. We also went to a charity organization in Sham Shui Po to learn from practice. Through these workshops, we built friendships and trust, and we were ready to make a difference for children in Shatan Village.
To assure the quality of our classes, we first divided into three groups. Then we discussed, imitated and practiced. Through communications, our self-designed classes were born.
Simple games brought us together, consolidated our cohesion and let us experience the activities by ourselves. Therefore, we could understand the key factors in designing and conducting games and activities.
We played with children from a non-profit center in Sham Shui Po to practice our in-class activities.
2. Time in class
In this trip, we brought some interesting co-curriculum activities which were different from normal lectures.
2.1 Team 1: Happy Camp
The aim of Happy Camp was to guide the students towards a positive attitude of life, such as confidence, optimism, team spirit and strong will.
Their activity “Beloved Things in Life” was liked by many students.
Students wrote down top 10 things that they treasured on 10 paper slips. Then they lost or obtained paper slips according to “fate cards”. For example, if they chose a card saying “debris flow”, all needed to throw away 3 beloved things in life on the slips.
After a few rounds of fate, they all checked the remaining beloved things in life and thought about the loss and the gain, and what was in their mind when having to lose. Finally, they shared their reflections and thoughts within the group.
This class was hoping to inspire these children to treasure and to be grateful, also, how to cope with opportunities and difficulties in life.
Group games were their favorites too:)
2.2 Team 2: Happy Study
This team intended to arouse student’s interest in learning, to reveal the joy of studying and to improve their learning skills.
They taught English and words by playing games, watching videos and body gesture. Children certainly liked the lively classes.
2.3 Team 3: Dream Inspiration
This team aimed to broaden students’ horizons, to inspire their dreams and to encourage them to work hard for the future. They achieved these goals by pictures, encouraging stories and their own experiences.
3. Games after Class
Playing with children after class was the best way to interact with them. Could we build their team spirits?
4. Communication and Home Visit
We visited a few children’s home to better understand their family situations. Though many of them were poor, they still kept optimistic and hard-working.
Students also often chatted with us about their thoughts and exchanged stories.
5. Mailbox to big brothers and sisters
Though the mailbox made by Jolbert was missing in Day 3, we all received a huge pile of letters.
We also wrote back to answer their innocent questions and make wishes for them every night when we got back from school.
The smiles when they received our letters could always make us moved.
6. Saying Goodbye
Finally there came the day that we had to say goodbye.
Dragging our hands, tears in eyes, the children said “Remember to be back next time!” And we said “Don’t cry. Smile.”
We also left out contact information to keep in touch with them.
But we would never say goodbye. We recruit teammates every year and they all have the same love and sincerity.
Back from the 11-day trip, we teammates all shared our reflections. Here are some paragraphs:
This service trip to Shatan left me a deep impression and many reflections.
Compared with simply hanging out with these children, I preferred to chat with them, in order to see their minds and exchange our views. Home visits deepened my understanding of their life and the difference between their family conditions. Some of them were very clever and hard-working, if being born in city or wealthier family, they would have a completely different experience and achievement. However, as a college student still in school, I couldn’t help but wonder what I can do for them, to resolve the social injustice and other arising problems. It seemed that all I could do was only encouraging them to work hard.
May the insignificant encouragement could become a seed for hope. Even if having to give up school for living, they would still have the positive spirits.
These children were very lovely and thoughtful, and they paid great attention to the lectures we gave. At the night before we were leaving, Yueliang in grade 6 and her friends even prepared a performance for us, and they sent us hand-made flowers. I was very touched at that time, because I felt their sincerity and uncovered love.
Students in junior high did not seem as active as ones in primary school, probably because they still felt lost about their future. But in their letters, I could still see their positive attitude towards life. I hope that they can be more passionate about learning, and tell us more about their trouble in adolescence. Students in grade9 has just finished their high school entrance exam, I wish to see them make more progress and head towards a new stage.
Coming back to HK and looking through the photos in Guizhou, I felt there was so much to say. Several days’ happiness, upset and reluctance filled my heart. Though I couldn’t accompany them for long, I wish I had left some seeds of Dandelion in that hill, and those seeds could become their wings one day.
8. Keep Going
HeartFire Education and Dandelion has been devoted to improving the imbalance of education resources for many years, and more and more people have joined us, to give, feel, reflect and grow.
Despite many drawbacks, we all feel the significance of our way. We join with passion and we keep with sense of responsibility. Every piece of sincerity and effort helps HeartFire Education to pass on and spread.
Maybe this is growing up.
We look forward to your support.
HeartFire is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving education, alleviating poverty and stimulating social inclusion through inspiring sharing, voluntary teaching and culture exchange.
We believe in the power of experience and inspiration to create positive change for our world.