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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
Local teacher fulfills mission in Xinjiang
     2014-August-15  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Tan Yifan

    cicitan2011@gmail.com

    THE first time Hui Aila, a local primary school math teacher, left the warm, wettish south for the dry, sunny northwest was only a few months ago. Now, after a short break, he is leaving Shenzhen again to continue his journey of hardship, love and understanding. It is a journey that “always wets” his eyes.

    “Xinjiang (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region) is a place that makes my eyes full of tears. Not only because I am in awe of such magnificent scenery, but also because of the people I meet and the research I do, which is eye-opening,” Hui recalled to the Shenzhen Daily about his one-year trip around Kashgar area in southern Xinjiang. He already spent about six months in the region. After the summer holiday, he will return to complete his mission.

    Hui was chosen to join a group of 10 local teachers to conduct a yearlong research project among 96 primary schools in the region. He was also assigned to train local teachers and teach students Mandarin.

    Hui was part of the sixth batch of teachers in Shenzhen who went to Kashgar in February to support its educational development.

    “Kashgar is financially supported by Shenzhen. Many Shenzheners have voluntarily gone there for a year or more to contribute to the local community,” Hui said.

    “The reason I left my 5-year-old son and the rest of my family to stay there [for a year] is that I wanted to be a part of such a group and am always at the beck and call of my nation,” Hui added.

    Increasing missions

    Upon their arrival in Kashgar, Hui and his colleagues stayed at a Shenzhen base east of Kashgar City. The main school they worked at was located in the city center.

    Hui at first was told he would teach at the school, but he was later informed that there was a slight change to his mission.

    “I was invited to join a group traveling from one village to another to survey and evaluate local education levels,” Hui said. “It was actually an extra task for me because, in addition to the research, I have to train teachers and record teaching processes for the school I was responsible for.”

    Despite the hard work of visiting all the primary schools in all 11 counties, Hui was excited for the work and eventually finished a 200-page research log.

    With support from the local government and schools, Hui and his teammates visited 85 schools and collected data from thousands of pupils and hundreds of teachers.

    “All of the schools we visited were for ethnic students. The schools are supposed to provide bilingual education for their students, but there are only a few schools that have teachers teach in Mandarin,” Hui said.

    A change to be made

    Only when Hui started to evaluate education in Kashgar and communicated with teachers there did he realize that the truth was different from his expectations.

    “I designed a five-minute math test for the Grade 3 students. Surprisingly, the outcome was far below what I could imagine,” Hui recalled. “A lot of students failed my test and even some math teachers who I invited to join the test couldn’t solve the problems. Some teachers’ math levels were even lower than their students.”

    According to Hui’s report, 427 students out of 2,337 passed the test. The pass rate of 12 primary schools was zero.

    “The questions I chose for them were from their textbook,” he explained. “There must be many factors to blame for such a result, but what I am concerned about is the knowledge local teachers have and their teaching attitudes.”

    Hui said the local government has put forth great effort to form a quality group of teachers. This year, 256 graduate students from normal schools in Xinjiang were sent to Lanzhou University of Technology to further their studies and will be placed in schools in Kashgar.

    “Most of the primary schools there are well-equipped and well-financed. The teacher to student ratio in several schools is higher than the national average. But what they have taught students is far less than the national standard. I believe they need more intellectual support,” said Hui.

    Love abounds

    Hui said his stay in Kashgar helped him make friends with local people and people from Shenzhen.

    “Leaving my son and wife makes me feel homesick from time to time,” he said. “But I am not alone. Many of my peers feel the same way, and there is a lot of culture shock.”

    But he has managed to overcome his obstacles by mingling with the local community. “We have learned a lot from the local people. Most of them are very polite, and they stress the importance of ritual,” he said. “Although sometimes we are concerned about our safety and heard rumors about terrorist attacks, the people around us are nice and the locals resent the extremists.”

    Hui said some ethnic teachers were hardworking and willing to communicate. “Even though some teachers were irresponsible and lazy about their work, there were many others who work hard and want to see changes. A young teacher from a local school spoke to me once in fluent Mandarin. He was very concerned about his students and asked for suggestions. We chatted a lot about education there, and I was impressed by his persistence in teaching.”

    Hui said they face many problems working there, but none of them will give up. “Instead, we formed groups for reading books and writing poems or diaries to help us cope,” he said. “Love and care are always there; that’s why we stay.”

    Missions ahead

    Hui’s journey to Kashgar will resume after summer vacation. He said he plans to visit his students’ homes this time around. He wants to know more about children’s lives there to see the correlation between their home lives and their school lives.

    “Now that I have almost finished visiting all the primary schools in Kashgar, I think I need to go back to the classroom to teach students and train teachers,” Hui said.

    “If possible, I’d love to do something like this again and help more students in Xinjiang or somewhere else in China,” Hui continued. “I want to spread the Shenzhen volunteer spirit and contribute more to society.”

    Hui said he thinks of his journey to Xinjiang as the end of one chapter of his life and the beginning of the next one.

    “When you can survive and not fail, you start to think about the meaning of life. To me, the truth of life lies in giving rather than taking,” he said.

    “When you can survive and not fail, you start to think about the meaning of life. To me, the truth of life lies in giving rather than taking.”

    — Hui Aila, a local primary math teacher

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