Last weekend, the Migrant Children’s Foundation and Boston College Alumni Association in Beijing teamed up to bring Easter and Physics (go-figure) to a school just outside of Beijing. This was the first time I had ever worked with the MCF so I wasn’t really sure what to expect; but as usual, I made friends quickly and followed the group onto some random bus going to who-knows-where. Typical Vanessa.
As soon as we drove out of central Beijing, I noticed an immediate change in my surroundings. There were fewer skyscrapers and more crumbling buildings. The main road started pouring out into smaller dirt roads. The subtle transitions went unnoticed by most of the BC alum as we gossiped the ride away about memories from the Mods and MA’s. When we finally stepped off the bus, it shocked me how quickly Beijing transformed from a major metropolitan city to a small neighborhood filled with temporary migrant worker compounds.
We piled into a classroom of 30 to 40 kids and started passing out the goodies we brought. Immediately, we all went into “classroom management mode” and divided the massive wave of kids into more manageable groups of 8-12. We passed out hard-boiled eggs to decorate, candy, stickers, and loads of free clothing donated by a BC alum on the team. We take the Jesuit tradition of “men and women for others” seriously, no matter where we are in the world.
The lesson was relatively short, sweet, and greatly enjoyed by the teachers and students alike. It was an opportunity to make learning fun and expose these children to people and ideas that they might never get to experience again. Here are a few photos!
Check out a few of their other programs…
This MCF cornerstone involves volunteers from different cultures going to migrant schools twice a week – Friday afternoon and Saturday morning – to teach English. This is a great melting pot where volunteers share cultural influences through the practice of teaching English with an eager audience of migrant children. The underlying essence of Beijing Buddies is that despite our external differences, we are united by a common spirit that brings nations together in harmony and learning. Check out our website where volunteer blogs tell the real story – how the learning is mutual and brings a cultural richness to children and teachers alike.
Fun With Science
Fun With Science Program is a hugely successful event that happens once a month. Dedicated members of the Royal Society of Chemistry (Beijing Local Section), the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Institute of Physics and Peking University volunteers come to our migrant schools to expose students to the fascinating world of Chemistry and Physics. Under the watchful eye of Chemistry Professor David Evans and Professor Richard De Grijs enthusiastic students experiment and learn about Physics and Chemistry in a fun way.
Health Checkups (My Favorite!)
Another MCF cornerstone is the life-enhancing Health Checkup Program. This project is in conjunction with the GlobalCare Hospital and the migrant schools where MCF transports children to the hospital where they receive a full health checkup that is paid for by MCF and the sponsors. To date, 310 children have benefited from the extensive health checks and one life was substantially lengthened and enhanced thanks to early detection of heart challenges.
The MCF kids’ Club
A growing bond has developed between MCF-sponsored migrant schools and the International schools that has resulted in many cross-cultural learning tools for all involved. These include Sports Days, Creative Writing Tasks, Arts and Crafts Projects and, of course, an English learning curriculum. The first MCF Kids’ club was established this year at the Beijing City International School (BCIS), with the students themselves contributing towards the organization and implementation of these events and pursuits.
Thanks to this MCF program, students have gotten out of the classroom and into many interesting venues, including the Beijing Zoo that involved 220 enthusiastic students. Other places included the Beijing National Library, where students learned writing skills from Australian writers, as well as many cultural and dance recitals. These activities help build confidence give the migrant children a sense of belonging and well being.
Poor eyesight often keeps children at the low end of educational achievement. To counter this, MCF has created the Glasses Galore Program, during which children undergo eye examinations and are provided glasses if poor eyesight is detected. So far, 160 children have received glasses and their participation in class and marks have improved.
Inspire and be inspired. Check them out online!
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About Vanessa Elizabeth
Vanessa Elizabeth is a cultural chameleon currently based in London. She enjoys sports (such as CrossFit and dating), cooking, and demolishing her savings account. When she's not busy blogging about her feelings, she works full-time and practices Chinese with her English/German friends.
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