In Part One of this three-part series, we featured siblings Seth and Fiona Hodges (Roundabout Charity Store)
Grace Wang (MCF)
Fourteen-year-old Grace Wang does it all. This Beijing native sings, plays volleyball, is a member of student council at Beijing City International School (BCIS), and volunteers with several charities. For the past year, she has been teaching English to migrant kids for the Migrant Children’s Foundation (MCF), one of BCIS’ school charities.
Tell me a bit about your work at MCF.
We plan our own English lessons and go to the migrant school in Beijing called Bowen Xuexiao (博文学校). We make flash cards with nouns and verbs, and try to teach students in a more creative way. We’re planning on adding stuff like sports days and maybe some science lessons.
Do you do any other volunteering?
Right now, I’m working with a Grade 5 teacher to tell younger kids about my experience [with MCF]. This year my classmate and I decided to [restart a project called]Give a Hope; the group collapsed last year because the seniors graduated. We want to visit a Chinese orphanage with a group of five to ten people to spend some time and help out. There’s also Golden Heights [an old people’s home run by BCIS’ parent company]. We go every week to visit the elderly. We just talk to them and sometimes play mahjong or poker with them.
What kind of students attend the Bowen Xuexiao?
Basically, their parents are not from Beijing and they come here to work. The students can’t go to local schools, so they’re the ones who attend that school. The ones we teach are mainly in Grade 4 and 5.
What’s a typical class like?
It’s one-to-one or one-to-two. First we sit down and chat with them to see what they’re like. We use the resources that we prepared to go off with our student and teach them. Each person has a different way of teaching the kids.
Are you usually always with the same student?
Last year we weren’t, but this year we’re trying to keep it the same so we can help one student develop a lot. The student I have right now is called Li Che and he’s in Grade 4. I’ve only taught him twice, but he’s pretty smart; he probably learns faster than I do with English vocabulary. We have similar interests. For example, we both like this Korean teen pop group called Exo. He taught me a game [similar to rock-paper-scissors]during a lesson and I started to enjoy it as well.
What are some of the biggest challenges faced by migrant kids?
They don’t have as many opportunities as us. Their families can suffer financial difficulties. They don’t have a proper education. The teachers [at the Bowen Xuexiao]are volunteers. Everyone should try to lessen [their hardship]because all children deserve an equal chance. But just because they have these challenges doesn’t mean they can’t be successful in the future.
What do you get out of volunteering?
Joy. Happiness. When you finish a lesson and go over the words to see how much a kid has learned, you feel like you’ve achieved a lot and helped someone else. It makes you part of something meaningful and it gives you purpose. It changes someone else’s life.
What was the most rewarding experience you had as a volunteer?
When we invited the MCF kids to the BCIS Sports Day. At first some of my peers didn’t really know how to talk to them, but in the end we were all having fun together.
What advice would you give to other students who are interested in volunteering at MCF?
Just be yourself. Try to talk to the kids as much as possible and don’t just be a teacher. Interact with them and get to know each other; you should enjoy it at the same time.
Do you think that enough people your age volunteer?
Yeah. Most people at our school who volunteer are in my age group, but I think more experienced and older people should join as well. We can only teach [the kids]the knowledge that we know; the more experienced the teachers are, the better the students will learn. I’m actually surprised to hear that; I thought you were going to say most teens don’t care. More and more people are joining [MCF] and right now the buses don’t fit us all.
Migrant Children’s Foundation (MCF)
To learn more about MCF, visit www.mcfchina.org. To enquire about volunteering opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Dave PiXSTUDIO and Uni You