Sunday, January 6, 2013

Supporting Students Abroad

            Imagine it is your first day of high school and you are competing against students that have had the best education available to this point.  Your early education was minimal at best.  While your fellow students go home at the end of every school day, you must stay in the dorms.  Your parents are far away working as subsistence farmers in a poor community.  You are isolated and the cards seemed stacked against you.

            There are many children in China who are going through this and more.  In China, the students must pay for education beyond the Junior High level.  Many families cannot afford to send their children to school and the poverty cycle continues.  But through the Peach foundation, generous people are able to sponsor these students and support them through their high school career.  A friend of mine W. is able to support a dozen such students and I recently had the opportunity to talk to him about it. 

            When W. first became involved with the foundation he had them choose which child he would sponsor.   As he became more involved and began to teach summer school classes in China, he chose students that he had met. 

            When the summer school begins, the students are immediately given a thorough exam.  Some are given their first pair of glasses and a whole new world opens up to them.  In camp, they learn proper hygiene and the teachers help build their confidence, and self-esteem.  The students are taught about the outside world.  Most of them have not been away from their villages and their world view is very limited.  The students are taught English and Chinese Common Language.  But the most important lesson is motivation. 

            The summer camp gives the students the tools they need to survive the next three years of their lives (China’s school system is split 6,3,3 where Junior High and High School are both three years in duration).  Motivation helps them to stay on task.  Confidence and self-esteem help them to get through the tough times and helps them to realize that they belong in the school as much as the more priveleged students do.

            The personal relationship built between student and sponsor is very important.  Letters from sponsors give the students the support they need to make it through high school and on to college.  W. is very proud of the students that he sponsors.  Some are now in college and have a bright future.  Their struggles are much more than we can imagine, but the victory over the struggle is inspiring. 

            If you would like to learn about the Peach Foundation and how they help, please visit their website at

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