More than 130 students from The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) have cut short their summer holidays to spend time teaching at schools in disadvantaged areas in China and Nepal.
The student volunteers have fanned across impoverished regions of Henan, Guangxi, Sichuan, Anhui and Gansu provinces and the neighbouring country of Nepal to deliver teaching in subjects that include Chinese, mathematics, science, English and music.
Some of the students will teach for about 10 days and others for more than three weeks in what has become an annual student-led programme aimed at making a meaningful difference to young people in disadvantaged Asian communities.
The UNNC student volunteers are funding their campaign partly out of their own pockets, while the University has also made a contribution towards their travel and subsistence costs.
The students are mostly teaching primary school children from grades one to six (aged six to 12), however some students are also helping junior high pupils in grades one to three (12 to 15 year olds) with their proficiency in core subjects.
The project is run by the Students’ Union and Young Volunteers’ Association — two of the dozens of student organisations on the vibrant university campus.
Fang Xinyi, a 19-year-old English Studies student at UNNC who has been working in Lankao, Henan, described the experience of working as a teaching volunteer as life-changing for her as well as her young charges.
“It has been hugely rewarding to see the difference I can make in such a short time,” she said.
Pit Chio, 22, who is on the Architectural Environment Engineering degree programme and recently returned from his teaching stint, said: “This work has exposed me to another side of life and given me a greater awareness of how different life can be for others who are less fortunate. This experience has broadened my mind.”
He said he appreciated the opportunity to make friends with a family from a different part of China and was deeply moved to hear about how they survived the earthquake and what they did to rebuild their lives.
Chio worked with 30 to 40 students for six to seven hours a day in a school that, although modest, had electricity and computers. He included special activities like an English corner.
“I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a good education and a relatively comfortable life. It feels good to be able to share some of the benefits of my education by giving to the community in this way,” he said.
The teaching project is just one in a range of activities undertaken by staff and students, which add to the strong culture of community service at UNNC, and at other campuses of The University of Nottingham around the globe.
Professor Nick Miles, Provost and Chief Executive Officer of UNNC, said: “A sense of social responsibility and general improvement drove the University’s founding in the UK more than a century ago, when it aimed to provide for the distinct higher educational needs of the working people of Nottingham.
“That sense is played out now on many levels and on a national and global stage, but still runs through much of our activities, being reflected in our research agenda, our recruitment practices and our teaching programmes,” he said.
Professor Miles, who will also be doing his bit for the global community by cycling across Britain in a 13-day sponsored tour to raise funds for medical research in August, said: “We aim to be good neighbours, and good citizens, by contributing wherever we can in small ways.
“Being a good citizen is the hallmark of a great education. Having a successful career is fantastic, but first and foremost is transforming lives in a positive way — that is what university is about,” added Professor Miles.
Last year, UNNC students received accolades and won prizes for two social entrepreneurship projects that had a meaningful impact on the lives of farmers in rural areas. They won the Students In Free Enterprise competition in China and went on to take the prize as first runner-up in the international finals, in Los Angeles (US) in October.
Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.
The University of Nottingham Ningbo China was opened in 2004 with the Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, Professor Yang Fujia, as its founding President.
The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.
The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.
More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news