The power of a seed, despite its size, is infinite, if you take good care of it to let it sprout. A seed can turn to a tree, and then a forest to shade people, to combat desertification. What if it is a seed of global citizenship? What will this seed sprout out if we plant it into someone’s heart and nourish it? This is exactly what Melton Fellows in China have been doing for years. They pioneered a road through rural China and carried the seed of hope with them to plant it there, plant it into the local children’s hearts.
Zhucun elementary school is located in this picturesque village. Having one class in each grade and six grades in total, this elementary school is equipped with advanced teaching facilities yet seems to lack something.
On the day of arrival, we were surprised by its modern technology. A question emerged: What can we bring to the students here?
But later, as our “teachers” are teaching classes and getting to know the children more, they find that things are not that simple.
Jiang Yi, one of the Melton Fellows in China said,
“One of the classes I prepared was to teach the students some English songs, to help improve their vocabulary. Having known they might be not very good at English, I picked some very simple songs for them. But still, I found that most of the students were unaware of even some very basic English words like ‘world’, ‘thing’, even ‘big’, ‘there’ etc. That was a little overwhelming, to see how far behind they were in comparison to kids their age across the country.”
Another Melton Fellow, Liu Xunzi added,
“I feel frustrated when some students do not pay even a little attention to me. My class — interesting math was intended to arouse kids’ interests in math, but seemed that it didn’t work very well.”
However, a different voice comes from one of the volunteer-teachers.
“I major in computer science, so I taught the children some interesting coding and programming. They were quite curious and interested in it, and this class was a success!”
Melton Fellow, Ren Yixin shared,
“My class — The magic pocket of Doraemon, which is about science and technology also brought a lot of fun to the students. I was really impressed by their wild imaginations and unexpected creativity,”
Also, besides those classes that aim at broadening children’s’ horizons, sex education — an important class that is closely related to the SDGs was also being taught to the kids who knew nothing about it. We show them some simple sex-Ed videos and conduct simple workshops from time-to-time.
Melton Fellow Jiang Zhentao introspects,
“I don’t know how much of the class or us they will be left with in the end, but what I know for sure is that if we didn’t pass the knowledge to them, they’d be left with nothing.”
Outside of class, the children seemed also very curious about the teachers and volunteers! As rare guests in their midst, we were barraged with questions!
“We were so glad to be answering kids’ questions because this is also a chance for us to tell the children about attending university, about the world outside, about what we do as Global Citizens, etc. This is the seed I was mentioning at the beginning of my narrative. The conversations, the classes, the laughter, and the new perspective we shared with them.
Hope one day it can sprout and grow and they can pass the awareness of Global Citizenship on and on.
Will the seed sprout one day in the future? We don’t know. But what we know for sure is — if we didn’t plant it, it would never have a chance to sprout.
“Once a graduate student at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, came to us and said that he used to be a student of the elementary school, where we did our teaching program. He has now has made his way out of that village into a much bigger world and the Melton Foundation played a part in his journey. We were silent when we heard about it, but it was such an intense and emotional moment for us. There are no other stronger affirmations of the correctness for us to do this teaching program. The seed sprouted, and now has become a towering tree.”