TJU Volunteers’ Story at Tanchang


Xuelian is a little girl in Dazhai village of Tanchang county in Gansu Province. She has a nickname Tiantian because the only two Chinese Characters Xuelian was able to write was “天大”, the abbreviation of Tianjin University in Chinese.

Before getting rid of poverty at the end of 2020, Tanchang County had been a national-level poverty-stricken county which Tianjin University partnered up to fight against poverty together. As TJU’s main battlefield of poverty relief through education, numerous children like Xuelian in Tanchang witnessed great changes brought by new “Dream Classrooms”, enthusiastic young voluntary teachers, " Dream Packages", and abundant educational resources like "online classes"...

In Tanchang, student volunteers from Tianjin University are very popular teachers in local schools. It is not uncommon for students to fall in love with a subject because they like the teacher in charge.

"The mathematics teacher looks like a reserved ‘straight A student’, but we got to know him, we find in a very humorous boy!"

"Our history teacher is a cheerful person who laughs all day long, but he cried with anger for we didn't finish the reciting task. We were ashamed and started to study hard from then."

Jia Haoran is a member of the postgraduate voluntary teaching group of Tianjin University. In August, 2020, the group came to Tanchang and started their one-year-long voluntary work as teachers. This is also the seventh such group dispatched by Tianjin University to the area since 2014.

Jia and his fellows brought some special presents to their students—"Dream packages”. There were two choices for students--one was a "customized version" prepared based on a survey the group had conducted before they set out for Tanchang about children’s hobbies and dreams, including drones, airplane models, school supplies, and even musical instruments such as ukuleles; the other was a "luxury version" for local primary and middle school students, including a set of beautiful new schoolbags, books, notebooks, study cards and stickers.

"We have put a lot of thought into preparing these presents, and hope to deliver these packages to children in person to inspire their thirst for knowledge and aspiration for the future" Jia said.

"We taught nearly every course ranging from the history class in the seventh grade to the Chinese and math classes of high school seniors. we each undertake nearly 20 class hours of teaching tasks per week, and the average score of many classes has increased more than ten points at the end of this semester."

Speaking of the "achievement" of their teaching in the past six months, Jia Haoran was radiant with pride. In addition to giving lessons to middle school students, he also volunteered to sign up for "one-on-one tutoring at home" project and went to a neighboring village to help a child named Leilei who was unable to study due to mental retardation.

Every one or two weeks, Jia Haoran brought a carefully prepared gift and trudged over to see Leilei. “The two villages are no more than ten kilometers apart as the crow flies, but the mountain roads are extremely difficult to walk. It takes much of a day to go back and forth." Jia would accompany Leilei to play basketball for the whole afternoon and then play Tangram, or flip through the comic book illustrations to tell him about the outside world. After a few months, Leilei’s family were surprised to find that he had become more cheerful and outgoing, "His eyes begin to brighten up."

Affected by COVID-19, Tianjin University shifted its poverty-alleviation efforts from "offline" to "online". The university recruited 1,598 volunteers and 163 volunteer groups to help 5749 Tanchang students. The volunteers carried out one-on-one tutoring for over 10,000 times, along with more than 600 times of collective coaching.

Among the students who received academic counseling, 65% improved their grades in the final exams, of which 21% has risen 10 places in their rankings. 94% students who received counseling gave positive feedbacks.

The nine-year school in Dazhai where Jia Haoran is working has a "treasure house" that both teachers and students enjoy a lot. In July, Tianjin University's 100th "dream classroom" was unveiled here. This is a “smart reading room” equipped with a huge projector, cool robot teaching models, rows of tablets PCs and e-book readers, and more than 3,000 books on arts and science...

Fifty-nine out of one hundred "Dream Classrooms" Tianjin University built were in Tanchang. There were biology classrooms, ocean classrooms and electronic reading rooms. The "Dream Classrooms" also serve as “cloud classrooms” linking Tanchang and Tianjin University, and TJU students and local students.

By the beginning of 2021, Tianjin University had built 100 Dream Classrooms across the country, conducted 100 educational training programs, established 100 rural training bases and carried out 100 poverty alleviation projects, bringing its educational poverty alleviation plan to a successful end.

“Poverty alleviation through education is a long-term and fundamental solution to getting rid of poverty.” said Li Jiajun, Party Secretary of Tianjin University. “It is our responsibility as a Chinese university in the new era to take full advantage of our resources to drive the development of remote and poor areas and spread the fire of education to the countryside. "

Stepping into 2021, at the last class meeting of the semester, Jia Haoran neatly wrote this paragraph on the blackboard: "When you are reciting English words, the cod jumps out of the blue sea; when you are calculating math problems, the seagull flutters across the prosperous city. When you are studying at night, the night sky of the Arctic Circle is full of colorful aurora. You should know that when you work hard toward future, you are one step closer to sceneries you have never seen. "

By Ren Xiangyun

Editor: Eva Yin