Rural Chinese Students Receive "Loving Care"
Above Guan Ai’s scuffed and chalk-covered wooden desks rest dog-eared books, worn as much with age as with use. Despite limited resources, however, the environment is the focus of conversations on conservation efforts, as teachers stress the importance of saving water. This is just one of many ways the school differs from regular public schools in China.
During the week, Guan Ai, a private elementary boarding school whose name translates to “Loving Care,” houses 200 rural Chinese students and their teachers. The students have remained in the small village of Houjia, often with grandparents, while their parents migrate to cities for better job opportunities. 2007 Echoing Green Fellows Diane Geng and Sara Lam began Guan Ai through the Rural China Education Foundation in order to help this community, for whom few educational opportunities exist.
During an interview for NPR, Diane explained the ways in which Guan Ai encourages the development of individual talents and creativity in ways not usually done by public schools where rote memorization is the focus and teachers are feared by students. Children here are inquisitive and excited, and what the school cannot offer its students in its modest structure, it makes up for in its nurturing environment and student-centered teaching methods. Nontraditional subjects like the arts are emphasized in addition to traditional topics in order to stimulate curiosity and genuine interest in learning.
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