Think China 2013 by ns2 photography

Think China 2013 | Day 9 – Letting the Leadership Flow Like Water

Day 9’s collaborative blog post was written by Brandon Vonderwerth-Martin [BVM] and Umiika Rose [UR], two of the splendid 13 who are part of Think China 2013.

© 2013, ns2 photography |
Brandon Vonderwerth-Martin [BVM]
[BVM] The Chinese educational system is one of the toughest in the world. Chinese people have a very strict culture and this directly flows into their learning.

[BVM] The educational system is broken up into three types of levels: elementary, secondary, and higher. Their version of secondary school is high school and higher education is college and universities. After 1978, english was made mandatory  because that was the end of communism in China.  Also, after 1978 the curriculum changed to Chinese language, math and english. This was because of China realizing that they has to think internationally.

[BVM] Just like I suspected, Chinese education is very tough and is way more stressful than ours.  To contrast, our educational systems can differ in many ways. For example, classrooms in America seem way more relaxed than those in China. One thing that I learned is that students in China whose parents are wealthy are being sent to America for secondary and higher education. This has a direct effect on American students because now not only is getting into a nice private school hard but now American students have to focus on foreign competition for a seat in the classroom.

[BVM] Chinese classrooms are intense because students are asked to sit a certain way, act a certain way, and not question their teachers. I believe that can be great and all but students don’t need to be overwhelmed. Students need to feel that they can relax but not too much, as well as be able to express themselves.

[BVM] Unlike America, China has to struggle with city versus rural education. City education is the best and rural education is the worst. America doesn’t have this type of problem because money is put into education so much that even a school that is considered bad in the U.S., it is still comparatively better than rural education in China.

[BVM] Similar to the United States are organizations that help underprivileged youth. For example, athletic scholarships are given out to students in China just like they are in given out In America.

[BVM] China has a national exam called the “gaokao.” This is similar to the SAT and the ACT which is only part of what’s needed to see whether or not you can get into college. The exception that is that if you do not pass the “gaokao” you will not have the opportunity to get a “higher” education. Therefore, Chinese high school seniors have a heavy burden on their shoulders to pass this test or their lives will be essentially ruined.

© 2013, ns2 photography |
Umiika Rose [UR]
[UR] Today was a wonderful day. We visited the Hope Community Center. Those kids are fantastic! I went into the facility with a mind set that I can make a change and that has paid off in many different ways.

Editor’s Note: Hope Community Center is located in the rural area of Lengquan. It is a very small community center that provides a main artery of after school support to the families who live there.

[UR] We did a couple activities that were incredible. For example, we had an ice breaker we call zoom. Zoom is very fun and it can be challenging. None of the kids at Hope had ever played it before. Not only that, but some of the kids barely spoke English. They didn’t allow that circumstance to hold them back and they pushed through and played the game with out any problem. Giving the kids praise when they won or lost gave them the confidence to keep trying. The kids were very sweet, respectful, loving and flexible to everyone around them. I am so grateful I had got a chance to meet those young people! Hope Community is amazing!

[UR] Here are some quotes from my fellow delegates regarding their experiences at Hope Community Center:

“We all started of slow. The kids were very shy but as time past by the kids had gotten comfortable with me. They all begin to open up and I am grateful to be apart of this experience.” – Rahni Johnson

“All the kids were staring at me because how tall I am. Playing zoom with the kids was a solid ice breaker for the group. The kids were drawn to my height which made them want to come near me and hold my hand. I had a wonderful time with he kids.” – Anthony Gallon

“I have worked with kids in the past, so working with the kids now wasn’t as hard. The kids were very open and nice. Painting on the walls was good but painting with the kids was awesome.” – Khristan Antoine

“Today made me think about the kids back at home. Being a leader in the U.S. has given me a chance to show my leadership skills today. This experience with the kids has brought me joy.” – Lakeisha Harris

“Going to Hope Community was extremely fun!!! Not only did we get to see the kids but we had the opportunity to play and get to know them. I am so happy that they have somewhere they can go and interact with one another. These are amazing kids and I hope to do this again in my near future.” – Taylor Wheeler

“Today was a very good day for me. I have never been around as many kids as I was today. I am a very laid back person. The ice breaker we demonstrated today not only gave the kids a chance to get out of their comfort zones but it allowed me to share and expose who I am. Due to this, I am now able to stand in front of kids, my peers, and strangers and show who I am! Those kids are amazing!!! – Brandon Vonderwerth-Martin

“The kids really responded well to my company. I am so honored that I have the opportunity to paint with them. At first they didn’t want to paint with me. I asked myself ‘Why?’ I looked over and saw one of my peers interacting with the kids. I asked her to help me and she told me to just be who I am. When she said that something clicked. I began to just let loose and be myself. Then, the kids recognized something different about me and they rushed over to paint with me. I am so glad I didn’t leave the same way I came.” – Isaiah Mobley

“Seeing how all of the kids from the Hope Community Center were, even though they live in such a poor and rural area really made me appreciate what I have. This goes to show no matter where you come, from as long as you surround yourself around the right people then you will be happy. Interacting with them made me want to trade places with one of them so they can experience the opportunities I’ve had. When I return to the U.S. I will be a different person because these kids have made me appreciate the world so much more.” – Ibrahima Mobley

“Compared to the EOYDC it was vey different because the kids back in the U.S. have much more than the kids here in the Center.  It was very touching to know that no matter where you come from you can still be unified and have a great time amongst each other. Having the opportunity was amazing. I wish I had more time with them.” – Marisa Jolivette

“No matter where you come from kids always have the same goal – to have fun and experience new things. My work with EOYDC has prepared me for a time like this. The skills that have stuck with me are putting aside your feelings and point your attention to the kids. I aim to make sure that everything I do has a positive effect on their future. I am so glad I had a chance to meet them and I hope my actions affect their lives.” – Bryce Bell

“My experience with he kids was great! It was very different working with the kids at the center versus the kids back in the U.S. The leadership skills I have shown today are creativity and listening. Being at the Hope Community Center was very great and it opened my mind.” – Jordan Williams

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