In August 2003, the Phelex Foundation took the first young volunteer group to Dripping Water village in Hubei Province . The teenagers, ranged from 12 to 15, are from Beijing, Guangdong, and Boston. They volunteered teaching English, music, computer and history, which the children at Dripping Water do not normally have access to. The city teenagers were impressed by the country children's hard-working attitude and inspiring dedication toward education. They realized that the opportunity of getting basic education does not come easy in the countryside. At the end of the visit at Dripping Water, children from both sides made connections that will help strengthen their friendship, mutual understanding and a sense of appreciation to each other's efforts.
Thoughts on Dripping Water Village
In mid-August of 2003, representatives from the Phelex Foundation, including five students from Beijing, visited Dripping Water Elementary School in Hubei Province, China. I myself am a student from the United States, and I had yet to experience the thrills and hardships of life in the rural countryside. Us students were to assist the Phelex Foundation and also, we were to assume the position of schoolteacher for two days and teach the elementary school students at Dripping Water.
The students at Dripping Water Elementary were on their best behavior when we came in as guest lecturers. As guest lecturers, we taught English, Music, and Computer. Catherine, a student from Beijing, and I, taught music. Catherine assembled them into a chorus and my job was to accompany them on the piano. The students learned quickly. By the end of two days time, the students could perform all of the five songs we taught them.
The villagers of Dripping Water Village treated us with great kindness and hospitality. Principal Zhang of Dripping Water Elementary even gave his own home to us for our sleeping quarters while he and his family slept in the classrooms. Mrs. Zhang prepared us with lavishly cooked meals three times a day that obviously cost the Zhangs a lot of their money.
Dripping Water Village is located on a scenic mountain deep in Hubei Province . Its rivers run clear, and forests stretch across the mountains as far as the eye can see. The scenery is beautiful, but living conditions are still rather rough in the village. There is only one automobile in the entire village, therefore, all the children in Dripping Water Village have no choice but to walk to school every morning. The road to school is long, about an hour and a half's walk, and sometimes even dangerous. The dirt roads are muddy whenever rain falls. Often, boulders fall from the mountains as a result of a landslide, blocking the roads.
In addition to the long walk to and back from school, other obstacles stand in the typical village child's way to an education. One such hardship is the 100 renminbi tuition that families must pay every semester. The school is not a wealthy one, and the money is much needed. But in Dripping Water, 100 renminbi is no small sum to pay. Some families have often had difficulties coming up with this tuition fund. However, thanks to the Phelex Foundation, families have not had the need to worry about paying their child's school tuition for over two years. The reason behind this is that the Dripping Water tea garden Project has become such a success that its profits more than covered every family's tuition fund for the past two years. As a result, schoolchildren only have the roads to worry about.
After my visit to Dripping Water Village , I strongly feel that education is THE most important thing to a child next to survival itself. Education is what turns boys into men, girls into women, poverty into wealth, ignorance into knowledge, and knowledge into power. The children at DW Elementary showed excellent attitude, behavior, and most importantly, the desire to learn more. Such good students should not and will not be denied any learning opportunities. It is my hope that all children of the world, no matter how impoverished they might be, shall all have the opportunity to receive the best education they can get.
This year on the 13th of August, the Phelex Foundation took some students and I to Dripping Water Village to see the country life. We took this chance to teach them English, Computers, History, and Music. As the English teacher, I found out the students at Dripping Water Village were extremely obedient. They repeated the English terms loudly and tried hard to copy them off the blackboard exactly as it was. I also learned a few things from them. Their life is very hard. For some students, getting to school is an hour of walking in water or climbing mountains rain or shine. Three people had to share one bed. Also, they had no supermarket. Food had to be grown at home.
Another thing I learned was that the people in Dripping Water Village were very kind, especially the principal of the school. He gave us a few weeks' supplies just to feed us for three days. This trip to Dripping Water Village made me want to do more for the needy children of China .