Tyler and Andrew’s Thoughts on Service in China

by Tyler ’17

Today, I woke up at 6:00 in the morning, which I don’t think I have done in my entire time at George School. This phenomenon made me extremely tired at 8:30 at night (which is when I am writing this). But after eating eggs with peppers and plain Cheerios for breakfast, I was wide awake by the time I arrived to school at 7:00 a.m., which surprised me because in America, I sleep less and I’m exhausted throughout the day. To start the day off, we took a bus to a local elementary school that has students whose parents have left to work elsewhere to begin our service. Here we were greeted with fruit and green tea. After eating for thirty minutes, we started our service. I, along with four others, were going to teach third to sixth graders English. This was interesting because the sixth graders understood what we were saying but the fifth graders understood significantly less English. This posed a great challenge to us, and we had to improvise new activities and games, which eventually worked out. Following this, we cleaned the dining hall, which was a mess. After half the group and I finished cleaning up the dining hall, we cleaned the three libraries. These were very dusty and small for a school of 500 kids, almost the same as at George School. It gave me a greater appreciation of the libraries at George School. After our service, five of us had a basketball game with the teachers. They took the game too seriously and still lost. Darius was the team and scored most of the points. The teachers were still good sports and treated us to a private dinner.

by Andrew ’17

One of the most striking phenomena I noticed at the school was the way in which they felt obliged to treat us as guests. Although we helped the children make dumplings, we were then fed the steaming buns as the bulk of the students looked on. They treated us to extravagant mounds of fruit in their air-conditioned conference room. The migrant children, in contrast, swept the basketball court in preparation for the game against us.

The whole affair made me question the value of the service trip. Instead of buying us fruit, the school could have hired a local to do all the work we eventually did. For the price of flying a group of incompetent American teens to China, we could have hired a professional English teacher for the school.

Later in the day, however, I was marginally more encouraged. Working with the kids was incredibly rewarding, and I felt that we may have been making at least a tiny impact on their lives.

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