A student takes notes at the harvesting station
“Smoking is bad for you.” Children in China are taught this in school. But what if your local economy if based on tobacco? That’s the reality in Yuxi City, Yunnan Province where our program’s Rural Teaching Fellow, Ms. Huimiao Sun, is currently leading a summer camp for children to explore this very topic.
The children, in grades 3-5, are from poor families who migrated from rural areas to Yuxi City to work. They know that Yuxi manufactures a brand of cigarettes famous throughout China, but don’t know much about the tobacco industry or the health effects of smoking. Rather than preaching from a textbook, Ms. Sun set up an experiential learning process whereby the children can touch, observe, and think about the tobacco issue from many perspectives.
This week they walked through a tobacco field and interviewed farmers about how the crop is harvested and dried. They went on a greenhouse tour led by professors at the local agricultural college and observed biotechnology experiments on tobacco plants to control pests. Later, they visited the local Center for Disease Control to learn about the negative health effects of smoking and the government’s attempts to phase out economic reliance on tobacco. Tomorrow they will organize their notes and do further research to prepare for a debate on the role and impact of tobacco on local society. Ms. Sun will guide them to discuss what action they may take to inform the others about what they’ve learned.
This kind of place-based, interdisciplinary project is emblematic of the enriching, real-world relevant education that the Rural China Education promotes, with the help of donors like you. Thank you for your support of rural teachers and their innovative teaching experiments!
A student shows off his drawing.