Ganzi is located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an altitude near 3,400 meters and surrounded by mountains. It has a total population of about 58,000 people, of which the Tibetan population accounted for more than 95%. Over the years, Sichuan Ganzi area has been an area where DENER Children Foundation been focused on. This year, we reached a consensus with the local “Xinyitang” Bookstore and hosted the ” More Reading, More Happiness” activity there. Through this activity, we hope we can better understand and get closer to the children here, and guide the children so they have more their interest in reading while improve their understandings. Our greatest hope is to combine “like reading” and “lots of reading” together.
The main target for this activity was children in grades three to six. In July, most of the children were still on summer vacation, so during the activity, children were very excited to participate. On the first day of the activity, the head of our volunteer group made a simple informational meeting for the parents who accompanied the children. Volunteers also introduced the reading skills, and shared examples of parent-child reading, encouraging parents to accompany their children to read at home. Some of the parents of the participants can only communicate in Tibetan. Therefore, we also ask other parents to translate and explain to them so they can get along with us.
On the other side, our volunteer teachers have already started folding paper with the children. Some teachers brought children to fold cranes, and some fold out beautiful flowers. Restless boys folded aircraft, boats, fake fingernails, it is really all-inclusive and creative. At that moment, the classroom calmed down and all kids focused on learning this new skill.
Next, the first reading session was launched, and teacher Shu-Yi led the children to read “Andersen’s Story”. The children got around in a big circle. The first story they chose was “Little Ghost and Little Merchant”, and start reading clockwise. As the children participated ranged from third to sixth grades, we found that some third-grade students tried very hard to pronounce the correct pronunciation when they encountered difficult words. When older students saw this, they would promptly remind the younger ones and help. Classmates helping each other out was a feeling of warm cooperation. Throughout the morning, the children actively participated and read three stories including “Ugly Duckling”, “Princess Pea” and “Nightingale”. It was interesting that some children were too involved, read several paragraphs at a stretch, and stopped only when teacher interrupted. When a volunteer teacher asked a question, children very actively expressed their views and interacted.
This afternoon’s reading class was led by teacher Yi-Ting, and the storybook was “Seven Rats to the Beach”. The teacher first made the children a warm-up, gave them three tips, and then allow them to guess. The kids used their imagination to constantly guess and explore, invisibly this increased their curiosity and interest to the book. When reading the story, each child was very attentive. The teacher also taught them to bring themselves into the role of the story. This way, we hope to deepen the children’s impression of the content of the story.
It is worth mentioning that the volunteer teacher took the opportunity of this reading event and taught the children to use mineral water bottles and plastic bags to make a simple life buoy. A basin was filled with water to simulate the appearance at the seaside, and through actual operation, to give the children methods so they can respond to emergency situations in real life.
The first day of class ended with the teacher handing out the homework assignment for the students. When we watched the students smile and walked out of the classroom with joy, they reminded us the thrill of this journey. Thinking of our way here from Chengdu to Ganzi county, because the heavy rains, led to landslides and flooding. On the road, there were a lot of traffic control, as a result of heavy rains, which made the winding road even more difficult to cross. After 14 hours we finally reached Ganzi. As soon as we arrived safely, it felt as if a big rock were lifted. Apart from being touched, we could also feel the joy of the saying “after the rain, sun is out”. The volunteer teachers from Taiwan and Shanghai have spent a long time discussing, designing and preparing for this course event but even so we were still worried. But after seeing the enthusiastic response from the students today, we were convinced that we can guide children in becoming more confident learners through reading.