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December 28, 2011

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Home » Feature » Education

Building hope in Sichuan

DURING the holiday season, thoughts turn to giving back, both to communities and to charitable endeavors. At Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS Shanghai), however, giving happens year-round.

Sichuan Earthquake Educational Development (SEED) was created by YCIS Shanghai along with other YCIS campuses in Hong Kong, Beijing, Qingdao, Chongqing and Silicon Valley, the US, in the wake of the Sichuan earthquake to channel funds raised by students toward the restoration of Minzhu Primary School in Anyue County, Sichuan Province.

In addition to fund-raising, YCIS created SEED so students have a connection to China that includes volunteering at Minzhu Primary School. Year 11 student Caroline travelled with other YCIS students and faculty members to Sichuan, where they added finishing touches to the facilities and spent some time interacting with local students.

"We taught (them) different lessons ranging from sports to music, all the while bringing much joy to them as well as to ourselves," she said.

The SEED project inspired Seeds of Hope, a more permanent initiative at all YCIS schools, which brings education to other parts of China.

In partnership with the China Youth Development Foundation, Seeds of Hope establishes local schools in areas of need in China: one school annually in every region where YCIS has a school. The proximity of the schools is meant to encourage a long-term, "sister school" relationship that will keep students personally involved.

The first Seeds of Hope school is being built now in Qufu, Shandong Province.

The establishment of the Seeds of Hope schools also enables students to connect to China in a way that fits well with the school's unique bilingual, co-cultural philosophy.

"Exposing our students to other parts of China creates awareness of the larger community in which they are living, giving them an opportunity to empathize with those in need and to develop their sense of responsibility as global citizens," said Felix Sibarani, Character Education coordinator at YCIS Shanghai's Puxi campuses.

Aside from charity initiatives like SEED and Seeds of Hope, YCIS has other programs to nurture students' ability to communicate with people from all cultures.

World Classroom trips go as far as the Czech Republic and Tanzania, while cultural lessons in the classroom cover topics ranging from Hindus' Diwali Festival to Japanese Butoh theater.

For Year 11 student Fay, the opportunity to travel to Minzhu Primary School was a lesson that went beyond China's borders: "I would say that (the trip) helped me connect with children that grew up in a completely different lifestyle."

Sibarani added: "We hope that our children will realize that being generous with their resources can make a significant difference to the lives of others."


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