The training team for Summer Fresh migrant teacher training program consisted of English teachers from the United States, English teachers trained in China, and volunteers from various universities and institutions—from both China and the United States. The training focused on English proficiency, English teaching skills and English conversational skills. The training was full-time, five days a week for three weeks. In the mornings the trainers gave lectures on English proficiency and teaching skills; in the afternoon they conducted conversational drills and exercises. Participants in the training who demonstrated particular excellence in completing the training were also honored with Certificates of Distinction.
Prepared by REAP volunteer Sherry Bai, these are the stories of teachers, participants and volunteers who helped make the Summer Fresh training program a reality.
Summer Fresh Teachers
Shuqin Diao, the grammar teacher for Summer Fresh, started with 6 lessons of grammar and vocabulary per day. When she sensed the training participants were mastering the content, she accelerated to 8 lessons per day. With homework to boot, students did not have much night life. Students had a final grammar test at the end of the class which served to evaluate their work during the three weeks. According to the ranking from test, Shaofang Cheng, Youwei Li and Guocun Xiao were awarded First, Second and Third Place, respectively, in their "English Grammar" Class.
Lisa Yiu, a Stanford Ph.D. student and former teacher from Los Angeles, lit up the days of the students as their English conversation instructor. She had them playing Bingo, doing skits and singing songs. "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and many other songs were heard up and down the halls of the training facility. Not only did students improve their English conversation skills, but they also made friends with each other. In the end, three of them—Kequan Hou, Hui Huang and Li Zhang—were awarded “Excellence in English Pronunciation.”
Adam Ma lead a class entitled Theory and Practice of Being a Teacher. One of the most interesting lessons was one during the last week that divided the students into 5 groups to present a group "Lesson Plan". During their hour "on stage," each group presented a joint "lesson plan." Because of their impressive presentations, Jinyan Bu, Feng Li and Si Gao were awarded “Excellence in Teaching”, the “Greatest Potential” and “Best Teacher Presenter “for the "Theory and Practice of Teaching English" class.
Migrant Teacher Stories
Zhidong Wang, a man from northeast of China, is 29 years old and has been an English teacher for 7 years. Because of his family’s poverty he studied off and on while growing up. He would often study one year, then work the next, then go back to his studies. After grauating from high school, he didn't continue on to college.
When asked why he came to Beijing to work as a migrant teacher, Zhidong gave two reasons.First, he wanted to make a breakthrough while he was young. As the capital city, not only does Beijing mean new challenges but it also represents a greater number of opportunities for him. One such opportunity, he figured, might turn into a career. His aunt recommended him to a migrant school in Beijing. “I'll never forget the 8th of August, 2002. That is when I came to Beijing and began my life as a migrant in the big city.” Zhidong said. After a series of exams and trial lectures, he was deemed qualified to be an English teacher. Actually at that time, the school his aunt suggested was in need of Chinese, math and English teachers. He was given the choice and decided to be an English teacher. For this reason, he has been teaching at Chunhua Primary School in Chaoyang District since 2002. It is also there where he met his wife, a Chinese teacher in the same school. Four years after they met, the two got married. Now he is living with his wife in one of the closet-like teachers' dormitories at school. During the summer, there is only a single electric fan in the shabby room to stop the annoying mosquitoes. Here they share the joys and sorrows of migrant life.
Zhidong is now an intermediate deck leader, but still has 16 classes every week. His salary is around 1100 yuan per month. This year, he replaced an absent Grade 3 teacher which resulted in salary increase of 100 yuan. Zhidong is also in charge of moral education, which includes discipline, campus health, and decorum. He and his wife have decided to continue their teaching career at this school. We wish them good luck in the future and hopefully a salary raise.
Li Zhang is a teacher from Datong City, Shanxi Province who impresses us most with her confidence and straightforward manner. Li comes from a poor family and has both a younger and older brother. Her elder brother, after graduating from a vocational secondary school, opened a clinic as a doctor in her hometown. Her younger brother is the only undergraduate in the family. He is still in school and plans to major in physics.After junior high school she wished to go to college, however, considering her family’s financial condition, her parents made her choose Hunyuan Normal Secondary School in Dotong City where she majored in elementary education.
Li graduated in 2004 and learned from her aunt that migrant schools in Beijing were in need of teachers. Therefore, at the end of 2004, Li came to Beijing. She served as an English teacher at Miaomiao School, Jiqing Town, Haidian District for five years.
Li said the teaching facilities and environment at Miaomiao have not changed very much since 2004. There are no multimedia classrooms, except for some computer rooms. Radio and tape are the only instruments for English teaching. There are no facilities or equipment for physical education. Though the school is conveniently surrounded by vegetable, fruit and clothing markets, the learning environment is distractingly noisy.
Li's monthly salary has not been significantly raised since she started work at Miaomiao. It was 700 yuan per month at the beginning, and then increased to 1100. However, after much fluctuation, it decreased to 950, which is too little to live on in Beijing. Moreover, teachers at Miaomiao receive no salary during winter and summer vacation.
Li's dormitory room is small and crude. She complains that the room is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Electric fans hang from the ceiling; in winter, stoves are used to heat the rooms. Sixteen others live in the dormitory.
Because of her dissatisfaction with her current status, she attended the night school of Beijing Normal University since 2006. She graduated last month with a degree in English. She believes her future is looking brighter.
Limei Wu is a genial woman just 20 years of age. Despite her young age, she shoulders many responsibilities.
She graduated from Handan College and majored in English Education. When asked why she chose this route she gave two reasons:
“I didn’t do very well in the College Entrance Examination. An English teacher of mine in the third grade influenced me alot, so I decided to pursue my studies in English."
Because of the partnership between her alma mater Handan College and a migrant school in Beijing called Yongfeng Experimental School, she took a teaching post at Yongfeng after graduating. Having lived in Beijing for two years, she has gotten more familiar with the city and has decided to stay here. However, she is unsure whether she would like to remain a teacher. Perhaps she will open a training course with some colleagues.
As a teacher, she has already taken on a large work load. She has taught all six grades at Yongfeng in the past two years. Now she is teaching two classes of Grade two, and one class of Grade three, five and six. Despite this arduous work load, she only gets 750 yuan per month. Due to the poor conditions of her school dormitory, she has rented a small room with two other colleagues for 100 per month. “I enjoy the freedom in my apartment. More importantly, I can have more space for family tutoring during my spare time.” Xiaowu said.
She knows much about the teaching different grades through her two years of experience. She is young which she believes helps her get closer to the students.
“Thanks to Summer Fresh I learnt a lot and am becoming more mature," Limei explains, "Not only did I gain knowledge about teaching, but I was also enlightened about life.”
Summer Fresh Volunteers
English Name: Rainy
School: Xuzhou Normal University
Major: Financial Engineering
Hobbies: photography, reading, playing badminton
Michelle A. Lee is currently slaving away for a high school diploma at St. Paul’s School in a cold and far away land known as New Hampshire. Then on summer vacations, she devotes her time to the slave labor force of REAP. After performing some magic tricks and being promoted to PR Manager, she has heard rumors of a raise. Unfortunately, slave wages x 2 still equals zero.
Tayler Cox is an undergraduate at Stanford and served as a REAP summer intern REAP in 2009. In fall, 2009 she started full-time Mandarin language studies as part of the Boren Scholarship program.
Hello, my name is Ren Bao. I come from Changchun City, Jilin Province. I’m currently studying at Renmin University of China. I enjoy playing basketball, watching movies, listening to music, and reading books. Being a volunteer is great. Making friends and helping othersis also a lot of fun.
"I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life! To put to rout all that was not life... And not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived..."
-Dead Poets Society
Sherry (Yujie) Bai is a recent graduate from the Renmin University’s School of Rural Development. Her undergraduate thesis was on migrant schools. She was a participant in the 2008 Stanford-Renmin University Overseas Studies Program in Beijing. Sherry served as the program manager and head teaching assistant. She always works with a smile.