Thursday, April 25, 2013 – I took the overnight train from Chengdu to XiChang and arrived in the early morning. From there it was another 4 hour bus ride to reach our Sichuan University correspondent, Ms. Fan, in ZhaoJue County. She was helping to manage the large boxes of donated goods in her own tiny apartment. After a quick bowl of noodles we packed our van full of the boxes and head off towards the school. While ascending winding mountain roads, we passed by YiZhu villages, farmland, and beehive farms for over an hour before reaching the quaint schoolhouse.
Schoolteacher, Mr. Jiang greeted us at the dirt road entrance of the school. Our heavy van carefully navigated through the unpaved entrance around ducks and chickens. As we arrived, the 40 students filed out of their classrooms orderly with curious eyes directed towards us. They wore old school uniforms, some of which had clearly never been washed. As we began to setup our display table, several students quickly came to help. I watched the students cooperate in lifting each heavy box out of the van. These children were exceptionally well behaved.
Excited eyes and big smiles appeared on their tanned faces as we laid out the laptops, sporting goods and accordions across the table. They lined up to receive their new school clothes and Pleasant Goat stationary sets one by one without a single push or shove. These kids could teach Chengdu metro riders a lesson or two. Each student offered a genuine “xiexie” for their new gifts. I couldn’t help but smile back.
Soon after, we took photos and the students immediately resumed class. I was surprised at how well-behaved the children were. Somehow, I feel that it’s uncharacteristic of children today. Is it due to the differences between the “haves and the have-nots”? Perhaps it has something to do with the YiZhu culture. Regardless of the reasons, these children are growing up with much less than I had as a grade-schooler and are likely more appreciative of the few things that they do have. This kind of reflection and perspective are the rewards for philanthropy.
I can only hope that these children will gain more opportunities and also spread kindness amidst an increasingly capitalistic world. This is one path to a truly, harmonious, global society.
AmCham Southwest graciously thanks the Millennium Hotel Chengdu for their RMB 7,196 cash contribution, and KPMG, Greater China International Education, and JW Marriott Hotel Chongqing for their generous contributions to this charity program. Over the last 3 years, AmCham Southwest and the Sichuan University Graduate Students Educational Support Group have greatly improved the learning environment for the children at Zhaojue County Wanchangxiang Yanmaidi Primary School (昭觉县碗厂乡燕麦地小学).
Many of us in the business community are very fortunate and it’s our responsibility to give back to society.