Scholarship Trip to Southern China

A group of 24 people from Church of All Nations and Hong Kong International School visited the Jiangmen area, Guangdong Province, China December 17-19.  Day 1 of the trip was dedicated to visiting girls supported by a joint CAN/HKIS scholarship program, while Day 2 involved visiting a local church. The diverse group of participants included CAN members, HKIS students, and Lutheran Theological Seminary students.

Scholarship Winners Speak Out About the Environment

On Saturday, we visited the beautiful campus of the Heshan #1 Secondary School.  We met with 29 female scholarship winners, all of whom are very bright and hard-working since they gained a seat at this prestigious school, the best in the area.
In contrast to previous visits in which the two groups had informal sharing, this time the principal requested that we prepare an issue-based lesson in which the girls practiced their English skills.  So, our group of adults and students led the scholarship winners through a 3-hour lesson plan in which they learned about global environmental issues, practiced new vocabulary, had discussions, and then wrote and delivered a speech about their topic. We hope to follow this model with a new topic of interest on our next trip.

One of the HKIS students who most enjoyed the trip was Tracy Tang (2nd from the right below), senior at HKIS.  Tracy, who is supporting this scholarship program as her Senior Project this year, recently held a “yogathon” and raised more than $14,000 HK ($1800 US), enough to provide 5 of the girls with a full year of education.

A Home Visit

In the afternoon, we visited the girls’ homes in the countryside to meet their families and to understand more about the challenges they face.  Zella, Micah, and I were taken to the home of a girl who had the disposition of a young professor, and we weren’t surprised when she said that her favorite subject was physics.  After a twenty-minute ride, we walked through a small village along a narrow path to the family home.  As we entered, we interrupted the mother and her 12 year-old daughter who were sewing and folding white sleeves for shoes that would later be put into shoeboxes for sale.  Selling these sleeves to shoe companies supplemented the family income. The father, we learned, earned a small salary as some kind of builder or construction worker, while the mother stayed at home taking care of her father-in-law and the family’s three children.  Sadly, the 11 year-old son was born deaf and has a heart condition, which has been a large financial burden for the family.  We were struck by the fact that the boy, while three years older than Micah, was several inches shorter.  Having visited the Foshan orphanage many times, we respected the family’s decision to keep their son, despite the financial toll this must have taken on the family.  Following our conversation, Mrs. Fung took us out to their vegetable patch and insisted that we take with us a homegrown papaya, which Zella cooked into a tasty soup back in Hong Kong.

Overall, the trip was a great success! Students provided useful tutoring to the scholarship students, and gained some insight into the lives of the girls whom we are sponsoring. The seminarians all told me how much the enjoyed their unforgettable trip to China.

A Word of Gratitude

Many thanks go to Iantha Scheiwe, the director of CWEF, and her Guangdong manager, Dolphin Liu, for arranging the many details of the trip.  I also want to say a word of appreciation to John Plagens, ESOL professor at Japan Lutheran College, who created Saturday’s well-organized and highly effective lesson plan. The Jim Handrich Service Endowment Fund should also be recognized for provided funding to allow two of the Heshan girls to visit the yogathon several weeks ago.  Finally, we continue to be grateful to CAN and HKIS for their generous support of the girls as well as for the sponsorship of the seminarians.


About martinschmidtinasia

I have served as a humanities teacher at Hong Kong International School since 1990, teaching history, English, and religion courses. Since the mid-1990's I have also come to assume responsibility for many of the school's service learning initiatives. My position also included human care ministry with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Hong Kong, southern China, and others parts of Asia from 1999-2014. Bringing my affluent students into contact with people served by the LCMS in Asia has proved to be beneficial to students and our community partners alike. Through these experience I have become committed to social conscience education, which gives students the opportunity to find their place in society in the context of challenging global realities.
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3 Responses to Scholarship Trip to Southern China

  1. pomu says:

    i did enjoy on that trip…!
    i thank God for giving me this kind of precious chance…!
    i thank my seminary for allowing me to participate in that wonderful trip..!
    i thank CAN for supporting me to go there…!
    i thank the Leaders who led this fantastic trip..!
    i thank everyone who built warmly friendship on that trip..!
    May you all get peace and blessed life forever…Amen.

  2. Michele Chu says:

    Although this was a short trip compared to the Deqing Girl’s scholarship program I attended a few years back, I thoroughly enjoyed making friends with such talented and intelligent girls there. I still miss them very much now. For me, my most memorable experience from this trip was naming a girl in my team “Lily” as she didn’t have any english name. When I found out she introduced herself as Lily, I was so surprised and thrilled that she used it. Lily was one of the girls that I got close with– she was friendly, nice, smart. We found out that we were both Aquarius-ians, and we shared many conversation topics, which mainly revolved around school life. It was weird how we clicked together so quickly. Afterwards in the day, our team also made a trip to Lily’s house for a home visit. We learned about the death of Lily’s father, and that her mother had to support both Lily and her brother alone. She worked at a hotel, but we weren’t sure what exactly. Her mother was very shy and not too open when we asked questions about her personal life and the hardships she is facing. Although these scholarship do indeed lift off some of these families’ burden financially, but sometimes, when they experience the death or disease of a family member, emotional support might also be needed.

    Ending on a bright note, I enjoyed teaching these girls, with the aid of with other international students from Southeast Asia in which I also learned a lot from. This was a very valuable memory.

  3. Pingback: Jiangmen Scholarship Trip: Service-Learning For All | Social Conscience Education

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