On the weekend of April 11-13, 2014, ten Yale Club of Beijing (YCB) volunteers traveled to rural Yaocun village in Linzhou, Henan Province, to donate bilingual books and assist students in English practice at the Yaocun No 1 Junior Middle School.
In 2006, Yaocun village was selected a site for community service by our Club because it is the site of a long-term cancer prevention collaboration by the American and Chinese governments, an alliance resulting from the historic Nixon-Kissinger visit to China. Yaocun village is located in China’s Taihang mountain range, an area with some of the world’s highest rates of esophageal cancer. Economically, Yaocun village typifies rural central-China, growing cabbage and grain (primarily wheat and corn) and operating small metal-work factories. We have observed changes yearly, reflecting the transformation of rural China. This year for the first time we traveled by the high-speed Beijing-Guangzhou railroad, cutting our travel time by half from our first visit in 2006, from 5 to 2.5 hours. The Yaocun No 1 Middle School had moved to a larger campus, and we were housed in a newly constructed guest dormitory in the local esophageal cancer hospital.
On Saturday morning, April 12, 2014, the YCB volunteers divided into different classrooms and led two one-hour classes in English. Following lunch, our book donation ceremony took place in the school’s central courtyard before the assembled students. We gave a total of 157 new books that were requested by the school and purchased by the YCB’s Book Donation Program at the Beijing Foreign Language and Wangfujing bookstores. In addition, volunteer Seockhwan (Bryce) HWANG (Yale College, 2006) donated six Korean culture books.
Our afternoon continued with special-interest activities led by the Yale Club’s volunteers. Rich HERZFELDER (Yale College, 1974) coached a basketball workshop. JIAN Yi (Yale World Fellow 2003) introduced students to documentary film-making and interviewing, and his colleague WU Hengmei’s students practiced experimental theater exercises. Seockhwan HWANG led a discussion group about two topics: the history of the United Nations and Korean Culture. A second discussion group headed by ZHENG Yisa focused on the perennially popular issues of the college entrance examination and student life at Peking University. Yan LIU JOHNSON (Yale SOM 1995) and her 10-year-old son Andrew taught students the game of “Charades” as a fun way to practice English. Yan’s 12-year-old daughter Katherine co-directed a singing class with LIN Meixue, entertaining us with school-wide performance at the end of the afternoon. Katherine’s description of her experience as a youth volunteer appears at the bottom of this summary.
Our school activities on Saturday closed with a tour of Yaocun village guided by a small group of students, who showed us new worker housing, wheat fields, and metal work factories. On Sunday morning, before returning to Beijing by high-speed rail, volunteers were able to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Yin Xu, site of an ancient Shang Dynasty capital (1300 B.C.) and the famous Oracle Bones that are inscribed with early origins of Chinese characters.
We would like to express our gratitude to Drs FAN Jinhu and WANG Guoqing of the Cancer Hospitals in Beijing and Yaocun, respectively, for assisting with our planning, providing us with local travel in Henan, as well as meals and lodging at the Beijing Medical Team’s Linzhou Esophageal Cancer Hospital.
Funds for the book donation came from the Yale Club of Beijing and two anonymous YCB members. Volunteers paid for their own train travel and incidental expenses.
-Summary by: Gwen Zahner (Yale PhD (Epidemiology), 1983), Director, YCB Book Donation Program
A YOUTH VOLUNTEER’S PERSPECTIVE
My Yale Club Book Donation Trip
April 14, 2014
Katherine Liu Johnson, Age 12
On April 11, the Beijing Yale Club volunteers went to Yaocun village in Linzhou, Henan, near Anyang, for a book donation event. We stayed at the Linzhou Esophageal Cancer Hospital dormitory. I really enjoyed visiting the school and sharing my life with the students. I also enjoyed speaking English with the students and teaching them English songs. When I talked with the students, I realized they did not have any English books in their library and they could not buy any English books in their book stores. They could learn English only from textbooks and the Internet, but only few have internet access. I was so happy when I gave the English books to them. They are very good books for the children. I realized how lucky I am to be born into such a good family and good environment. I should study hard like those students in Henan village and appreciate what I have in my life. This trip was really meaningful for me, and I feel good for what I did for the students in Yaocun No. 1 Middle School.