Zhejiang University: A team of dream builders in Jingdong

Twelve hours of weary journey brought CAI Feiyang, leader of the 23rd Postgraduate Volunteer Teaching Team (Jingdong Branch) and her teammates to Jingdong, a mountainous region in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. It was in this remote town that they carried out their one-year volunteer project.

“Our aim is to open a window for students and offer them an opportunity to expand their horizons.” Despite limited transportation and inadequate resources in Jingdong, Cai and her companions encouraged students to pursue their dreams and lead a life to the fullest.

“Instead of imparting specific technical knowledge, my focus is on sparking enthusiasm and a love of learning in these students,” shared XU Jiani, one of the English volunteer teachers. “This will hopefully motivate them to work hard and change their fate.”

The team also organized various sports and recreational activities for local students, encouraging them to tap their fullest potential. One of the students discovered his strength in football through this program. Previously bogged with low self-esteem, this student gained so much confidence through the program that he decided to apply to the Yunnan University’s School of Sport to further his passion for the sport. LI Fang, one of the project’s earliest students, is set to continue her study in ZJU as a postgraduate. The list of similar stories goes on.

“Volunteer teaching for a year and self-educate for a lifetime.” The team motto spurs its members to commit themselves to volunteer teaching in the west. Since its inception, the group has taught the equivalent of 20,000 class hours for over 4,000 students. This has enabled the Jingdong Vocational High School to rank first among all the vocational high schools in Yunnan province for nine consecutive years in terms of college entrance examination admission rate.

“Our achievements are not even possible without the support of our University,” Cai replied with pride when asked about the growth of her team. “The University and the alumni have generously provided us with both financial and technical resources.” She shared about a recent initiative named Ganlin Skilled Talents Class, which was sponsored by Essence Information Technology Co., Ltd., an alumni enterprise, and the Hangzhou Ganlin Education Foundation. Every year, a dozen students in Jingdong Vocational High School are selected to receive more advanced vocational skills training at Hangzhou Technician Institute, allowing them to become better equipped for job market. Every youth that gains employment through the newly attained vocational skills is a big win for the program and society. For them, a single job gained can lift an entire family out of poverty.

Over the past nine years, donations and supplies worth over 3.9 million yuan were allocated to 6,562 students in primary, secondary and special education schools. This covered a total of 93 schools in 13 towns in Jingdong. ZJU has also set up the “Qiushi Scholarship” and “Qiushi Grant” from a cumulative donation of 3 million yuan and built the Qiushi Study filled with 18,000 books.

Jingdong is not the only place where volunteer students have left a positive mark. They have traveled to many towns in west China, including Zhaojue in Sichuan province, Dahua in Guangxi province and Meitan and Taijiang in Guizhou province. Each and every member of ZJU volunteer team will continue to devote themselves to the cause of rural revitalization.