海阔凭鱼跃，天高任鸟飞。前不久，全美华人文化教育基金会青少年爱心俱乐部 (ACCEF-YCC) 九名美国出生的华裔学生 “ABC” （America Born Chinese），利用今年暑期飞到了祖籍国的江西省会昌县展开了两个星期的访困助学活动。
哥哥姐姐们带来的电脑和视频放映等教学设备令弟弟妹妹们感到好奇 – 不少中国农村里的学校目前还没有这样的智能设备条件。当哥哥姐姐们用PPT放映各种教学图片时，弟弟妹妹会争先恐后地举起小手提问各种各样的问题，哥哥姐姐们就将视频来来回回地放映进行讲解，如此过程中不但促进了教学互动，也增强了效果。
有堂课是展示中国和美国的名胜古迹。当大哥哥大姐姐问弟弟妹妹们最想去哪里玩时，弟弟妹妹们抢着说： “最想去会昌县城玩！” “我要去南昌！” 令大哥哥大姐姐们很惊讶。然后当弟弟妹妹们看到屏幕上出现的加州旅游景点时，个个眼睛睁大发亮，举起小手欢呼：“我要去看迪斯尼公园！”“我要去圣地亚哥海港看军舰！”。
From the dirt floors to the single, bare light bulb in the room, the state of penury was the elephant in the room. Three generations of six people all living in a cramped, single room where dust could be seen floating in the sun’s ray of light.
We taught at the schools during the mornings and some afternoons we would go with the village officials to see the kids that our organization sponsored. At each house, we gave each child a backpack and encouraging words for studying and working hard in school.
Although the conditions of the children living there were terrible, the thing that really made me realize how meaningful each of the stories were. Two children stuck out to me the most. The first was a seven year old girl told me that she cooks dinner and takes care of her two younger siblings every day because her grandparents are working in the fields from sun up to sundown. The part that really stuck to me was when I asked her when she started cooking dinner for her family; she said that she didn’t remember because it was so long ago. Her grandmother stepped in to tell me that she started when she was around three years old. The second was the girl who my brother and I sponsor. After reading all the profiles, we decided to sponsor this girl because of all the hardships that her family has gone through. Both her older and younger brother have leukemia, and luckily, she has both of her parents. After waiting for years to find the right bone marrow transplant for the brothers, they finally found one; however, they did not have enough money for the operation of just one child. The little girl was 7 or 8 and she was so shy when we first entered the house. I was able to talk to the little girl and ask her questions about school. Even after we were about to leave and we took pictures together and stuff, I still felt that she felt very awkward around us, but before we got into the car, she ran over and waved goodbye to me.
To be honest, I’m honestly a person who doesn’t cry, maybe once or twice a year. And when I do, it’s not in front of anybody, even not my own intermediate family. But that night laying in bed, talking to my mom, for some reason, I started crying. Silent tears have one of the strongest and most meaningful story to tell. At that moment, I realized that the whole experience really took me by shock. The human brain loves to avoid and ignore traumatic things, and it would be a lie to say meeting those families wasn’t. The contrast between my life and their life was so immense that I really couldn’t process it completely (I believe I still can’t).
When I first chose to sponsor the girl, the whole process was very detached. It wasn’t until I went to Jiangxi myself to fully realize what I was doing and how big the problem there truly is. After coming back, I now understand that it is my (and everyone else who is capable) responsibility to help those in need. Whether it be something significant, such as building a school, or something smaller, such as keeping the girl I sponsor in school, all these things amount to change in the world.
During this trip, I learned that Chinese hospitality is absolutely great. Endless watermelon at every house? Yes! Actually though, this trip made me very thankful for everything I have, as well as everything I don’t have. The kids that we visited don’t complain about anything, even though they have it very rough. They are grateful for their hardworking grandparents and for us, and show their gratitude in the most sincere way, by helping their grandparents with housework and studying hard to make the financial aid worthwhile. I strongly admire some of the kids that we visited and saw at the schools. They are inspired to study hard and break free from poverty; they don’t let their lack of money impede or restrict their learning, but instead let it serve as their source of inspiration, and all the better reason to succeed.
I think that we all can learn things from these family visits. First of all, we should be appreciative of what we already have, because compared to these kids, we have so much. For starters, parents. Yes, as much as they yell at me, I never thought I’d be so grateful to have both of them. I’m lucky to be able to listen to both of them yell at me. Also, a nice, clean house with fluorescent lighting, air conditioning, hot water, and nice toilets, computers easily at our access, etc. And of course, beautiful weather and crystal clear (rather than creamy yellow) water. We were surrounded by affluence growing up, so it’s easy for us to take even the most basic things for granted. Walking inside the houses of these kids made me realize, over and over again, just how spoiled and lucky I truly am. Additionally, these kids do chores without even being told so. I tend to only do chores once in a blue moon, and it is only after a large amount of nagging or yelling by parents. They might be young, but are independent, mature, and thoughtful. During the visits, it was evident that the grandparents put their grandkids’ education before anything else. Many of these kids are extremely motivated to do well in school, and it touched my heart that they try to make the most of what little they have.
Although Huichang County (会昌) is small in size, HuiChang has a rich history. Today, HuiChang has a population of just over 500,000, spread throughout 2710 square kilometers of land. HuiChang mostly consists of mountains, farmland, and small villages, but near the center of Huichang County lies Huichang City, where a dense population roams around a cluster of tall buildings. However, Hu Chang was not always like this. Huichang’s borders were first set over 1,000 years ago. Throughout its years, many great landmarks and attractions were created, such as the Lan Mountain. In the 1900s, many great Chinese leaders visited HuiChang. Zhou En Lai, in 1927, led his small rebel army into battle in the HuiChang Battle. This small rebel army soon became the pushing force of China’s Red Army. Mao Zedong, in 1929, came to Huichang and wrote a poem about the Huichang Battle. Today, this attraction is called the Chairman Mao’s Poem Wall. Huichang, as small and insignificant as it is today, is a place with a great history and a great landscape.
When I went to Jiang Xi this year, the thing that had the greatest influence on me was the quality of the people’s houses. Even though the quality of their living spaces was below the poverty line, many students were as eager as any child to learn whatever was going to be taught. I thought visiting the students’ houses was the most important part of our trip because it showed the students how much we cared for them, and to give them hope to continue learning with the most effort. The thing that surprised me the most was that even though some of the teachers and that the learning materials were not very good, some of the students were actually very good at english. For example, Harry, from Liang Zhou was the same age as I, and his english seemed to equal to mine or some of the other volunteers. This trip gave me a different view on people living in poverty and the power of hope in such places. If I could come back to such a place next year, I would consider going because of the experiences I had there.
When I was asked to go to Jiangxi for two weeks with other kids from YCC, I gladly accepted the offer with no real thought or knowledge of what to expect, or what responsibilities would be given to me. Through these two weeks I’ve experienced and learned more than I had during any other short period of time like this. It pushed me way beyond my comfort zone and forced me out of my quiet shell in which I’m so used to staying. However, I don’t think our group could’ve been quite as successful if it weren’t for the support of everyone around us.
Before the trip had begun, my biggest concern was whether I was capable of teaching an entire class by myself. As the first day passed, I saw that the people around me had the same concerns and doubts I had, and we were able to help each other whenever we had any troubles. Like so, the burden of being responsible for an entire class was lightened, and class time became much more efficient as well. Every day was a new opportunity to learn from the previous one, which grew apparent as classes became easier to handle. Our struggles were also eased by the parents, who came to our rescue countless times and gave us a good example of how to deal with certain situations. Even the hosts supported us in their way. The cook cooked so many dishes for us every day. One grandpa let us use his whole house for us to rest after lunch. His wife constantly provided boiled drinking water to us. A retired school principal often came to observe classes and told the kids to be appreciative. A retired government official was there every day just to make sure that things would move smoothly. All these people did their best to make us feel as comfortable as possible.
The most important aspect of this trip was that the bond within the YCC group strengthened immensely. We had all seen each other a couple times from other volunteer events previously, but were friendly acquaintances at most. It was thanks to this trip that we spent most of our time together, experiencing the same fatigue and frustration, and sharing the same fulfillment and laughter. In a matter of a day or two, we already had our own inside jokes and opened up greatly to one another. While it may have been just two weeks, I felt like I had known them for months, which made it very hard for us to part at the end.
Through this summer I’ve come to realize that the more worry and dread I have built up prior to an upcoming event, the more I come to enjoy and learn from those experiences. The YCC trip to Jiangxi was no exception to this realization, as I not only pushed my own boundaries, but got to meet a group of wonderful people. Though we may not see each other often in the future, we shared one of a kind memories that will always remain with us.
（图片提供：ACCEF-YCC，美国华文网 圣地亚哥华文网 华文风采编发 US Chinese Press，San Diego Chinese Press）