How I conquered grassland of Inner Mongolia and planted there seed of non-formal education

User Rating:  / 3

Moving Training in China
Tell me, I will forget. Show me, I will remember. Involve me in it, I will understand.
Chinese proverb
MT took place in few Chinese cities in July, 2012. Following volunteers: Abel, Guiming, Wai, Ilja, Elli, Erin, Wu, Juan, Harry, Carole and Aleksandra (well…that’s me ) took part and created this short-term volunteering project.
After intensive week of Training for Youth Leaders in Hohhot (Inner Mongolia) we moved to the smaller city, Xinlihot. We started new project carrying our emotions after saying “goodbye” to other participants of TfYL. On the first day we were introduced to our new guides. Greeting was warmer than anyone could expect. After few hours I felt like at home, connected with all the group. Frankly speaking, ALL local people we met on our way during MT had positive approach toward us. That give us a hope that the ideas and enthusiasm we shared with them, may stay in their minds and “develop”.
Starting the day from short walk through the magnetizing seems-to-be-endless grassland was refreshing experience which brought me lots of happiness.
(Later) Small inconspicuous blue doors in the middle of poor neighborhood. We are going upstairs and here we are: smiling teachers and kids looking at us with curiosity. So..let’s start playing! After moving to the classroom and proposing more activities, group of kids made impressive introduction of themselves. In the school we’re visiting (named Arson English) young girls are “studying” beautiful art of ballet. In my whole life I haven’t seen such performance. It was lively, it was colorful, it was perfect cooperation of 20 little dancers. It must be hard to practice such a difficult choreography when you are 5-7 years old, but kids seemed to be happy. They looked so excited and so proud to be able to show us their talents. We were truly impressed- there was no other way!
After enjoyable moments in practice room, we moved to English class. During the visit we had opportunity to discuss with school staff, especially with American teacher. He stressed out the fact that in public schools students are mainly prepared for taking exams, practicing concrete types of exercises over and over again, under a big pressure. Teacher in the private school we had a pleasure to visit explained his unique (if we compare them to official way of studying in China) technique of teaching- based on the oral language, using songs, drawings, games, dancing to make the lesson a “useful fun” for little students. The staff of the school believes that this way of teaching kids can give young people more opportunities to travel, to study and work abroad thanks to broadening their minds and practicing communicative English.

I would call that day as the Real Intercultural Exploration. Woke up very early, took a car with our host and drove long way through grassland to see festival of nadaam- traditional Mongolian wrestling. For most of us it was the first chance in life to see such event. We could feel the spirit of local culture and observe intensive emotions of the viewers. Last but not least, we also played with curious kids who cheerfully surrounded us.
I couldn’t believe my eyes- for all European participant night bus with BEDS instead of chairs was a nice surprise. Coming from the country which size is smaller than some Chinese provinces, I had never had a chance to sleep in a bus. No matter how simply it sounds, it was new “knowledge” which made us realizing impressive spaciousness of China.
Little hardships caused by the “endless” trip disappeared once we stepped out from the bus and looked around. Even if we didn’t manage to eat traditional Beijing’s meals, yet we could have a chance to face up with talkative local sellers and buy any kind of souvenir we could imagine. Supported by Chinese participants of the project, we could enjoy getting unique gifts by the price reduced few times. It is called team cooperation and support, isn’t it? Little walk around, some breaths of capital’s air and we had to step in to the train headed to Hefei, ready for new challenges and hoping for effective and unforgettable days in Anhui province.
As it was planned, we went back to Hefei from the meaningful Chinese piece of land which Huangshan became to us. Except the beauty of nature we could also observe the lifestyle of local students here, as we walked to the campus and dormitory. The reality made me shaken: young people must use the water from special plastic containers because the tap water is limited. Considering 40 degrees of heat outside and sweat in our bodies, it was the lesson of modesty which made me re-think about my own living circumstances … If only we could help these students a bit!
The day was capped with official dinner: we observed Chinese way of greetings and table rules. We were all impressed and a bit ashamed of generosity of the hosts. At that time we had a chance to meet future participants of MT in Europe, make plans for the future, sum up and thank for the cooperation we have done so far. Happy and relaxed, we found ourselves surrounded by group of kids, ready to communicate with us and play together. No doubt- we were all prepared well for such activities. 
Last day in Hefei started from the visit in the Anhui Provincial Museum- the biggest museum in the region located in one of the biggest building I have ever seen in life. Open to learn more about ancient Chinese history, we stepped into every room of the museum. I was impressed by the beauty and the age of exhibits and, on the contrary, Chinese participants seemed to be shocked by the fact of having “only” 1000 years’ history of the country, as it is for Poland. After boost of history we went to meet student sin Anhui University. Once again we got really warm greeting. We had a chance to watch students’ introduction: about the region, University, life in China, their hobbies. We also learnt about the preparation program (ACT) created for Chinese high school students who want to study in US. They told us about their aims, lives, hopes and doubts related to educational system, labor market, travelling... We all watched singing and playing the flute performance of students and had a long, spontaneous discussion with each other, followed by exchanging contacts. With this lively activity we officially ended our project. However, was it the end of our “team work”..? Definitely not.
All in all, we are sure about the one thing: the project made eleven people from four countries cooperating and living together as old friends, good partners and inspiring supporters. Somebody found strength, somebody found inspiration and enthusiasm, somebody found..out that being in China seems to be uneasy to be described, unforgettable experience. Honestly, we all know that it’s not the ending but it’s just the beginning of new projects, new meetings, new aims, new activities. We are ready, are you? 
My (very) personal summary:
For the first time, I did not cry after coming back from the international project (remembering all this “wet goodbyes” after workcamps!). I didn’t want to cry over the things I have experienced and advice which changed my life, my attitude and myself mostly, even if it was a small change. It is not about being sad because it is gone. It is all about being happy that it happened to me. It was a treasure that stick to my mind and make me be more courage and more self-confident. It was an experience I would love to share with the others and it was a trip which taught me how to be a better person. Although it may appeared that we weren’t so involved in many volunteering tasks, each day was full. Full of meaningful things. As Abel told us at the very beginning- we can’t have concrete schedule, we don’t know what exactly is going to happen and we can’t simply go to local people and tell them to start volunteering. However, what we could learn and receive from this project, was mostly based on emotional knowledge. We could put a seed on the land and hope that it will start growing. Sitting in my room now and reminding all days of the Moving Training in China, I must admit we actually did it. What I fell is that we somehow experienced each other’s emotions, support, laugh, help, conversations, knowledge. It may sound obvious, but I learnt a lot about different habits, cultures, lifestyles, aims, dreams just by being with group of inspiring volunteers and by meeting local people of different ages. Hopefully, see you soon!

Fifth Edition

5While closing the 4th edition of Scriptamanent, after the final meeting in Izmir, we are already preparing the new call for the next edition of the project. Stay tuned!

Login form