For the last two summers, my dad I travelled to China’s poorest mountainous area with Zigeng volunteers, and taught English and math to destitute and underprivileged kids. This is home to Yi — ”one of China’s minority groups, with a distinct language and culture of its own. They live outside the dominant culture and language, and are among the least fortunate families in the country.
Their children seem destined to a life of poverty.During those times, since the kids’ families were scattered around the mountainous region, my dad and I had to travel to several villages each day, tutoring from morning to night. Although we sat in a humble mud hut with a flickering kerosene light, it felt as if we had the whole world in our hearts because I enjoyed fostering a desire to learn in these young, underprivileged students, and there is nothing greater than empowering someone with the love of knowledge.In class, those kids became sunnier and more confident, eager to learn math and English, and asked about everything in the outside world: China’s big cities, the United States, and the like. It was an inexplicably satisfying feeling to see others benefit from what had provided me with such an extraordinary opportunity.We slept on a wooden bed or the muddy ground with a mat and a blanket in a villager’s hut at night.
I remember mosquitoes attacking me after I dragged my aching body to bed the first few nights, and I lay there with my eyes open till sunrise. The villagers had no computers, cell phones, baths, or other modern conveniences; everything in their village was aboriginal. In the beginning, I was not used to their way of living.
Nevertheless, seeing that those villagers and their kids had lived in such poor conditions since they were born, I felt that they would give me the strength to deal with these and other types of challenges. I had to accept the fact that life is not all cotton candy, puppies, and rainbows.During that time, I befriended people. I couldn’t be happier than while I was chatting and playing with them.
When we broke for lunch, we prayed hand-in-hand. We were also part of unforgettable scenes of rural Chinese life: having a picnic by the mountain stream, and playing and working in the peaceful rice fields.Family night occurred during the last week of our tutoring when rain bathed our hut on a hillside. Boys and girls performed a drama in English.
Their eyes exuded newfound confidence. My dad and I couldn’t help but smile as we watched their show. We celebrated the good time with loud singing and laughing.
As I sang with them, I found them so beautiful, so strong, so willing to persevere in spite of tremendous challenges. At the conclusion, the parents thanked my dad and me for teaching their kids, and all the students cried at our leaving. To tell you the truth I had a few tears in my eyes; I was deeply touched by those good people.
I realized that I had a path to follow. I wanted to pursue a profession that would help those in need, offering alternatives and promoting justice. I left the hut with blessings and hopes for those kids’ good future.On the last day of tutoring last summer, my dad and I grabbed the chance to hike in the nearby higher mountains.
The mountain air felt fresh against my sweaty cheeks. My dad walked beside me, offering his scarf.Surrounded by spectacular mountains kissed by sunshine, I was awestruck by nature’s beauty. Stillness enveloped me, calmness with a pulsating undercurrent of excitement, color with a certain enigmatic flavor. When I looked down the mountain, a light fog was floating over discrete, shabby mud huts like a piece of sheer silk. Underprivileged kids living there couldn’t get a good education and struggled to live. Simultaneously I realized that the human society has reached a civilized state, even China has made a significant progress on economy in recent years, however, poverty and injustice have been co-existing with social evolution. Although the future of humankind is certainly bright just like sunlight in my eyes, the path is not always strewn with roses, every path has a puddle. I must dedicate my life to understanding the causes of both the universe’s beauty and the tribulations of people, and to blazing a new path together with others.Sometimes the beauty of the mountains and the smiling faces of the kids still float on my mind. The tutoring and hiking provided me with a rich sense of the beauty of the universe, problems of human beings, and diversity of cultures and society. I have kept in touch with those kids via letters since then. Some of my precious memories stem from the times I spent with those kids, and they will be everlasting.In addition to pursuing my academic studies at Carnegie Mellon starting this fall, I would like to continue my community involvement and volunteering service.I plan to establish a servant-leadership group in Carnegie Mellon. This group will equip members with the skills needed to become effective servant leaders, and let members learn that service is not someone else’s career, but rather a central part of everyone’s successful vocation.We are not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. We are going to practice servant leadership through our mission trips — ”teaching English and math voluntarily in summer to destitute and underprivileged kids in backcountry in the third world such as China and Africa. Each member will recruit volunteers to form a small team to service one area.The service could work to instill in the group members and volunteers an integration of their faith and their life, and also build up their character, equip each member with a servant’s heart and a leader’s mind, and prepare for an understanding of how to lead with compassion and by example.
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