Wellington’s Head of Pre-Prep explored a different side of education in China
28 December 2015
From one of Shanghai’s most elite institutions, to Henan Province’s schools for “left-behind” children, the joy of teaching is everywhere. Earlier this year, Emma Button, Wellington’s Head of Pre-Prep, took a trip to Henan province to explore a different side of education in China. Joining ‘Stepping Stones’, a volunteer teaching project based here in Shanghai, Button spent her school holidays teaching English lessons in a rural school which was situated in a under-privileged part of rural Henan. The school mostly serves the ‘left behind’ children of parents who are currently working in China’s fast expanding cities like Shanghai. Button spent her time with children from ages six to eight years old and was overwhelmed with the energy and enthusiasm of these under-privileged children. “The children were so eager and excited, I was even applauded as I entered the classroom - this has never happened to me in twelve years of teaching! Clearly they wanted to get as much out of my visit as I did!” For many of these children, this was their first experience learning the language and much of the time was spent learning colours, body parts, drawing pictures and singing. “We sang songs (a lot of songs!)” says Button. Even in such harsh conditions, Button could see there was such passion for learning, an enormous amount of positivity, and an endless desire to improve oneself. “On the last day, there was a school concert to celebrate Children’s Day and to thank us for our help. The children provided us with hours of fantastic drama, dance and singing. I even led the Grade 2 children in a round of ‘If you’re happy and you know it’. Many people have asked if I felt sad by what I saw, and certainly the conditions were challenging, but ultimately I was hugely uplifted by the experience. I met some amazing children, who will work hard to make their lives better. I was also humbled by the staff who made us feel so welcome and showed me that great teachers are not always the ones who are trained as we are. They were dedicated, hardworking and worked every day for the benefit of their children, and that is something we at Wellington can all aspire to.” "Stepping Stones is a not-for-profit organization registered both in Hong Kong and mainland China (Shanghai) with a mission to improve the education and general welfare of disadvantaged children in China. For more information about Stepping Stones or to register as a volunteer, please go to www.steppingstoneschina.net."