By Carrick Zhu, V Form
Empathy Through Education in China’s Xi Ma Yin Village
My mom and I began our volunteer teaching trip in 2014. With the help from the local Red Cross Organization in Ning Xia, China, we were able to find a local primary school situated in Xi Ma Yin village. Xi Ma Yin rests at the base of the Helan Mountain where the water supply is scarce. The villagers are mostly immigrants from the other side of the Helan Mountain. The elementary school where I worked is called Xi Ma Yin Immigrant Development Zone Elementary School.
The educational resources there are limited, and the students are mostly stay-at-home children whose parents are minimum-wage earners in the surrounding cities. Last summer, I invited two friends to join my mother and me on our volunteer trip. We stayed there for two weeks in a student’s home so that we could experience their reality. Throughout our stay, we mainly helped them with their English grammar and vocabulary as well as their homework for summer vacation.
We brought over fifty different facilities, such as solar panel cars and three-dimensional models of landmarks to show our students the outside world and to help them to find their interests. Having had the chance to live among several hundred students, I felt that I understood their struggles and predicaments. This trip enabled me to become more empathetic and mindful of others who are less fortunate than I. These students are representative of the undeveloped rural areas in China, where there are millions of children struggling to learn to read and acquire an education. Coming back from Xi Ma Yin village, I realized how privileged we are, as we enjoy the comfortable bubble that is St. Mark’s and our home. My hope is that everyone has a chance to engage in a new or different environment every once in awhile simply to be reminded of how fortunate we are and how important it is to gain a broader perspective.