May 9, Sunday
In the early morning, we hurried from Yanan city to the local government's office. After meeting the local officials, we went to a Tuition Aid Project school with Principal Su.
On our way to the school , Principal Su told us about the collapse of the schoolhouse In October 2003, after it had rained in Yanan for about two weeks. The school teachers found that there were cracks in the caves in the morning of the day that the caves collapsed. This school was in the caves. The local government officials took immediate action to move the students and teachers from the school as soon as they were informed. Fortunately, there were no casualties.
Principal Su told us that at present, students from Grade One to Grade Four are now attending class in Shenzhuang Elementary School , which is two kilometers from Ansi Elementary School. Grade Five and Grade Six are still studying in the two bungalows at Ansi Elementary School . Effectively, the teachers are now teaching in two schools. The local villagers from the nine villages of the Ansi Elementary School district voluntarily cleared away the collapsed schoolhouses.
A half hour later, we arrived at Ansi Elementary School. As we entered through the school gate, we were greeted by giant stones. Principal Su told us these were the scraps of the collapsed building and that some money would be raised from the sales of the stones. He also told us about the reconstruction project on the old schoolhouse site.
We climbed along a rugged mountain road and reached our project base. We looked over the experimental woods and saw so many lush sea buckthorns and acacias. Principal Su said that all the sprouts were growing well, and there will be some acacias added to our project base, which we cultivated. We saw about seven hectares of three-meter tall acacias.
We discussed the problems of schoolhouse reconstruction with the Community Council members and listed three Community Council topics: The first is whether to rebuild the schoolhouse on the original site; the second was the proposed style of the new schoolhouse, and the last topic was about the distribution of student aid. Afterwards, we did some preparation for the UPM representative's visit.
May 10, Monday
In the morning, we decided to welcome the UPM representatives with the local officials at the airport.
At 1:30 pm, the plane landed on time at the Yanan airport, and Ms. Soile, the UPM's chief representative in China, left the passenger compartment with her administrative assistant, Ms. Zhangyingying. Ms. Soile also brought her two-year old daughter Eria with her. Together with them, five boxes of stationery were also transported to Yanan. On our way to the hotel, Ms. Soile, who was very concerned about the situation of Ansi Elementary School, received detailed explainations from teachers.
In the late afternoon, Ms. Soile visited the town of Yanan and Zao Garden, a Chinese revolution memorial. We also contacted Mr. Zhaochunguang, who was both a reporter from the Yanan Daily and also our Tuition Aid Project volunteer, concerning existing issues in rural education.
May 11, Tuesday
At 9:00 am, UPM representatives, Yanan Daily reporters, and seven people from Yanan TV went to the Ansi government office to talk briefly with local officials. Afterwards, we went to Ansi Elementary School to look over the original site of the collapsed schoolhouses. The school teachers gave detailed description of them.
At 10:20 am, the donation ceremony was held in the school. Ms. Soile contributed RMB 35,000 to Ansi Elementary School and said that all the money would be used in rebuilding the schoolhouse. The secretary of the local government, Mr. Zhangxing, awarded Ms. Soile an honorary certificate and also expressed gratitude for UPM's generous charitable activities. Ms. Soile also received a beautiful scissor-cut which was made by local villagers and in return she presented two shovels and wished the restoration of the schoolhouses would be successfully completed soon. Afterwards, all the stationery was donated to Ansi students. Ms. Soile gave a speech to wish all the students and teachers of Ansi Elementary School a beautiful future. Ms. Tanhua from the Phelex Foundation and Secretary Zhangxing also addressed the meeting. The ceremony ended in an atmosphere of friendship.
At noon, we had our lunch with a local village family and all the guests showed their great interest in the typical Shanbei farmhouse food. After the meal, we visited needy student Anqingjia's family. Ms. Soile gave her two books of Grimm's Fairy Tales and donated RMB 200 to her family. She also encouraged Anqingjia to study hard to realize her dream of becoming a teacher.
We audited the Community Council of Ansi Elementary School 's Tuition Aid Project with local officials and reporters after we returned to the school. The Community Council members discussed the reconstruction of the schoolhouse and the student aid distribution plan. The president of the Community Council, Mr.Bailiff Sulin, announced the decision of the Community Council meeting after the vote and the resulting calculation, according to the established procedures of the Phelex Foundation.
May 12, Wednesday
As we finished up our visit to Ansi Elementary School, the zeal showed by the donors, local officials, teachers and students affected us deeply. Through our activities, we felt the significance of societal power's positive effect on rural school development. It helped rural schools build a bridge to leave behind their quandaries and communicate effectively with the outside world. The schools are now obtaining more social resources and further opportunities to develop well.