Come and Help the Children of South China

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Frequently asked questions

1. What sort of volunteer work?
English speaking foreigner visitors to the Yangshuo Guilin region go into poor villages to teach oral English and introduce the Western Culture to the students. The purpose of V.E.T. is to help the children speak a bit of English and to give them the initiative to speak freely with foreigners. Volunteers teach English through songs and games that help the students practice what they learn in the daily English school lessons. Oral English is not part of these lessons as Chinese English teachers in this area cannot speak English, and as a result Chinese children can read and write a few words but can’t speak the language. We know that by helping them develop comfort in speaking bit of English to Western visitors the children will have a much greater chance of securing a job in the rich tourism industry of the region. Many of these poor children will not have the opportunity to go to school beyond the primary grades for two reasons: 1. the cost of higher education is prohibitive for their poor peasant family 2. they don’t have the academic scores to qualify for enrolment into local middle schools. As Westerners we might not regard a job in a restaurant or as bike rental clerk as a career to aspire to, but for these young people the monthly pay of three to four hundred Yuan is a fortune. For a young person that is not too shy to speak to a foreigner and can speak a bit of English their future is much brighter.
Volunteers also help V.E.T. to collect supplies, equipment and funds for the students and schools. Poor schools do not have resource materials, classroom equipment is a sheet of plywood painted black and some coloured chalk. It is often impossible for parents to buy the note books, pencils etc. that every pupil needs. Donations of cash are used to purchase supplies and equipment, provide transportation for the volunteers to and from the villages, and organization needs such as printing and administrative supplies.

2. Where are the schools located?

The schools are located a 15 minute to one hour ride from the city of Yangshuo.

3. What qualifications are needed?
The most important qualification is that the volunteer speaks clear, understandable English. Equally as important is the desire to help make a difference, enthusiasm and a great sense of fun.
Volunteers should be aware of the fact that the level of (spoken) English is very basic at most of the schools. Volunteers should also know that the different schools have different demands/wishes and should be flexible regarding adapting (lesson) plans.

4. What time frames are involved?
Volunteer Teachers give the amount of time they choose. Teachers ideally stay for a week or more. We have had two volunteers that came to China just to volunteer and generously gave us four months.

5. What would be the cost?
A volunteer can choose to stay at TESOL hostel, a standard double bed hotel room for 50 RMB/night/person, and 30 RMB for meals one day.

6. Are there any age restrictions?
There is no age limit. Everyone in good shape is welcome. We have had volunteers from 19 to 75.

7. What sort of projects are involved?
The primary goal of V.E.T. is to help improve the level of oral English in poor rural areas of Yangshuo and Guangxi Province. Since inception in November of 2004 we have logged over 200 classroom hours during the regular school term and pioneered two special English summer school programs. In the past we also organised summer schools. One in the Yuon Cun Village primary school. Forty eight children, ages 9 to 12, attended the three week morning classes conducted by three volunteer teachers. The second summer school was in the town of Rongshui at a Miao Minority Middle School. Three volunteer teachers provided morning and afternoon classes for 120 students while a fourth teacher taught 18 Chinese English teachers language and methodology.
V.E.T., through the generosity of individuals, has been able to supply some of the schools with soccer and basketballs. At one of the school we work in the only playground equipment is two bamboo polls hanging from a tree that the children can shinny up and down.
Fund raising and collecting supplies and teaching materials is an ongoing part of the program.

8. Why are the English lessons not funded by the local (or national) authorities? In short, what is the need, and are these projects being done from as justice perspective, or just because the possible funding authorities are too lazy (or worse) to be involved. What is the specific need being addressed?

China’s remarkable economic rise in the past 25 years is well documented and known throughout the world. Education has also seen tremendous changes in this period but the reality is that the less developed smaller urban and rural areas still battle with extreme poverty. The local Education Authorities and the individual schools can’t possibly afford the luxury of a foreign teacher to practice oral English with the students. V.E.T. is highly praised and recognized for its great contribution to the children by all levels of education administrators.

The cycle of poverty can only be broken through education. Poor peasant farmers struggle to pay the annual school fees for their children to go to primary school but very, very few can afford the higher costs of sending the children to Junior Middle School or beyond. We know that if the children can learn to be comfortable with foreign visitors and speak some English they will be able to get work. Volunteer English Teachers are committed to helping these children realize a better future.

Many local business people support the Program financially and publicly displaying recruiting posters, however the funds raised locally are not sufficient to meet costs that is why we solicit support from foreign sources.

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