[2015-01-28] SSEF's Anhui Regional Manager Mandy Yang Visited Schools (By Mandy Yang)

On the morning of Jan 4, led by Tan Jun, a supervisor of the Anhui Province Overseas Affairs Bureau, I arrived at the office of the bureau. School communications officer Wu Di initially planned to join me on the trip, but for a personal reason, he was unable to come. In the office of the Overseas Affairs Bureau, I chatted with the director, Mr. Huang Yingfu. I learned that Mr. Huang had graduated from Anhui Normal University in 1982. I was in class 2009. Being alumni made us feel closer. Later I reported Shin Shin's latest news, projects to be executed, our schools' conditions and 2015 plans for schools in Anhui. Mr. Huang said everyone could see Shin Shin's contribution to education in China's villages, and Shin Shin volunteers' selflessness is heartwarming. Mr. Tan said that among so many foundations he knows, Shin Shin's most distinctive feature is continuous planning. He said it's admirable that Shin Shin provides continuous assistance, including projects that bridge the gap between education in big cities and small villages, as well as caring support for sponsored schools, all of which demonstrate Shin Shin's love. Later a reporter of the Xinhua News began the interview. We talked about Shin Shin projects, donations, and the existing schools in Anhui (here is the news article)

After that, Mr. Zhao Ming, a supervisor from the bureau, Mr. Tan and Ms. Zhao Jing took me to lunch. After lunch, we went to Union Elementary School (#256) in Danyang of Ma-An-Shan-Dangtu County. I found the school indeed very remote.

Shin Shin's Anhui school communications officer, Ms. Wu Jia, went from Wuhu to the school, and she arrived before I did. She taught an English lesson for the children there. When we arrived at the school, it was near 4 pm. Regretfully, we didn't see the children because they had left. The exterior of the school looked quite run-down. There's only one building used as classrooms. Beside it was the teachers' dormitory. I personally felt the dorm might not be solid enough. There seemed to be some security problems with it. Later, we visited the classrooms. The desks and chairs looked old and worn out. The school requested $2,000 for replacing the desks and chairs in 2011. That year Shin Shin sent the money to the Anhui Province Overseas Affairs Bureau. However, because the school was unable to provide the right documents, the bureau didn't wire the money to the school. Now the school has negotiated with Mr. Tan about the documents. Mr. Tan promised to wire the money soon for the school to replace the desks and chairs.

I went to the classrooms and the offices, where I met most of the teachers. I was happy to meet a young teacher Wang Haixia, who participated in Shin Shin's training program in 2007. Later, I gained some understanding of Union Elementary School. The principal, Mr. Chen said he hopes Shin Shin would provide more support in teacher training. The school has 10 teachers in total. Most of them are older. Only Ms. Wang and Mr. Fei Xindong, both of whom are in touch with Shin Shin on a regular basis, are young teachers. The others were all older. Five teachers will retire next year or in the following year.

In the meantime, there are no teachers of specialized subjects. The school really needs single-subject teachers. Around six o'clock, we left the school and returned to Ma-An-Shan City. The Overseas Affairs Bureau of the city hosted our dinner. Three directors spared time from their busy schedules to mingle with us.

The next morning we went to a Shin Shin school in Daxing of Huyang County (Shin Shin School #34). This is Ms. Shi Yeting's alma mater. The school received a large donation from Mrs. Sun Shu Jingying. When it was first established, Shin Shin donated $10,000. In 2006, Shin Shin built a computer lab for the school. The computers were getting old through the years. The Education Department of the city has helped update them. Ms. Sun Shu Jingying has donated electronic pianos as well. The principal, Mr. Xing said that the school needs help with teacher training (one of their teachers participated in the 2007 training program of Shin Shin) as well as facilities such as the playground and restrooms.

The last stop of our visit was Shin Shin School #73 in Huangchi of Dangtu County. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised by the looks of the classroom buildings and facilities. The school looked very pretty. It's 56,675 square meters. There are six grades, and three classes in each grade, 18 classes in total. The total number of students is 797.

We happily met two teachers, Ms. Yu Ping and Mr. Wang Dunshui, in the conference room. They both participated in Shin Shin's computer and English teacher training classes, held in Changsha. According to the principal, Shin Shin's contribution to the school manifests itself in the following three aspects:
1) Finances
$10,000 donation in 2003, used for building a kindergarten
11 computers donated in December 2006
300 books donated in 2007

2) Teacher Training
Ms. Yu Ping participated in Shin Shin's English teacher training program in 2007.
Ms. Yu Ping and Mr. Wang Dunshui participated in English and computer teacher training program in Changsha in 2013.
Ms. Yu Ping and Mr. Wang Dunshui participated in the English and computer teacher training program again.

3) Shin Shin Staff's Numerous Visits
President Ting and Mrs. Ting went on Nov 4, 2011.
Sun Shuying Foundation sent representatives there on Oct 29, 2013.

Later, I asked the two teachers for their feedback on Shin Shin's training. Ms. Yu said the training was very meaningful and provided new ideas, which helped her teaching a lot. Through the training, she strongly felt Shin Shin's loving contribution and made friends with people who think alike. She was able to share what she had learned from the training with her colleagues. In the meantime, the two teachers suggested dividing the training programs into different levels for different teachers' background knowledge. Mr. Wang suggested teaching more about the Internet management and facility maintenance in the computer class.

The children I met in the school are exceptionally passionate and adorable. I asked them if they knew how to play ping-pong. Many of them said they did. I said I could teach them more about ping-pong on my next visit. They were excited about it. Before we left, the principal said that the local education department attended to the needs of the school, so the school facilities would not need more updates, but there is a huge demand for teachers of specialized subjects. The school has no single-subject teachers. After the visit, we went to lunch in Huangchi, with town mayor Mr. Wu and officials of the local education agency.

Through this tour of schools in Ma-An-Shan-Dangtu, I learned that the Overseas Affairs Bureau and the schools appreciate Shin Shin's continuous plans and projects for bridging the gap between schools in big cities and small villages. They all said Shin Shin represents oversea Chinese people's love for their homeland. In my opinion, we should enhance our communication with the schools in our later efforts in Anhui. The teachers I met in the first two schools I visited participated in the 2007 training program but didn't go to subsequent classes because they were not informed. Besides, we should keep ourselves informed of the changes taking place in local education so we can help the schools in the areas they truly need assistance and benefit the teachers and students. This trip makes me deeply aware of the local government's devotion to school facilities. No wonder it's said that Anhui people look at Ma-An-Shan as a model of education. All the schools in the county are connected with the Internet.

Every classroom has an electronic white board. The computer software programs used for the white board are advanced and work properly. Except for the old and worn-out desks and chairs at Union Elementary School, which looked incompatible with the rest of the school, the schools don't need help with facilities. On the other hand, all the three schools expressed their needs for teacher training projects. Although there are teacher training classes in Anhui and nationwide, most of those are on-line classes. Also, the schools have a shortage of single-subject teachers. Their teachers of specialized subjects are all part-time. That's why I asked them about getting support from university students. The schools basically hope the university students who come can stay longer, for at least a month.

In the end, let me give special thanks to Shin Shin's counselor Cheng Tie for his support and contacting the Xinhua News, to Xinhua News reporter Ni Xinran for timely coverage, to the Overseas Affairs Bureau of Anhui Province, to the Overseas Affairs Bureau of Ma-An-Shan County, to local education agencies, to Mr. Ding Ruixiang for accompanying us on the visit and making all the thoughtful arrangements, to Bi Wei, Beijing representative of Shin Shin, for all his support, and to Anhui school communications officer Wu jia for her school visit and the English lesson she gave there. All these people made our trip unforgettable!

From Mandy Yang's Heart

Today I would like to share my own story and tell everyone why I am doing what I am doing. I used to be a ping-pong player. For me to learn how to play ping-pong, my parents sent me to another city when I was only eight. I came from a humble family. Learning ping-pong was an expensive project. My parents put all their money on me. I remember my parents went to see me every other week. They took an early train at 5 am and arrived after 7 am. I began waiting for my parents at the station at 6:30. For more than a decade as an athlete, I had some accomplishments, but more frustrations and failures. I've been very lucky. As an ordinary person, I always meet extraordinary people who can guide me to do extraordinary things. Therefore, I get to stand here, doing what I am doing. So many years have passed by. Looking back, I would like to tell everyone that I am immensely grateful. Such experiences have made me an independent, strong person.

I think God has given me abundance. I've received so much. I've always hoped to tell children without an affluent family background that if there's a will, there's a way. I really hope I can pass on the gifts I've received to help those children living in impoverished areas. I do everything I can. Since I joined Shin Shin in May, I have seen so many people selflessly give their time and money to help children on the other end of the earth, bringing love to these disadvantaged children generation after generation. I know this is what I want to do. This is what Shin Shin is passing on, and what I can carry on. Thank you!