Volunteer’s Diary – CEEDS 2011 Summer Volunteer Programme in Post-Earthquake Regions in China



Being part of CEEDS summer teaching project was an unforgettable experience and i would thoroughly recommend it to anyone. The areas that we worked in where truly unique and the kind of area that you would not get to see otherwise. The children are enthusiastic and friendly, despite everything that they have been through. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my summer vacation. – Heidi Howard

Heidi and students


We went to two places in China; one is in Sichuan province and the other in Qinghai province. Both were fairly remote and poorly developed, and have been struck by earthquake. On 3rd of July, two other volunteers and I set off to Shifang Yinghua Primary School in Sichuan. The 8.0-magnitude earthquake in 2008 destroyed the whole town. After the earthquake, the school was the first building that was re-built. Residential houses were still in construction when we arrived there, and people in town were still living in tents and temporary bungalows. Despite this, we were warmly welcomed by the school and were allocated to a chalet house which endured through the earthquake.

On the first day of classes, we were shocked by how little English the students knew compared to what was expected according to the National education guidelines. The teachers told us that this was because education was greatly disrupted by the earthquake and later on the school put more emphasis on traditional subjects such as math and Chinese instead of English. We had to give up the teaching materials we prepared beforehand and improvise in accordance to the students’ English level and their daily progress. In addition, we tried to make the lessons as interesting and attractive as possible by adding in many language games, group competitions and individual performance.

It worked out well and laughter was always heard in the classroom. We not only taught, but more often played with the students, so that they absorbed knowledge in an enjoyable way. Within the five days, a good rapport was struck between us and the students. They were sad about our leaving and expressed their wish of us going back next year.

We then headed to the next destination—Yushu Orphanage School in Qinghai province, which is inhabited by Tibetans and located at 3800 meters above sea level. The condition was much harsher than the previous school, as it was struck by an earthquake more recently. We lived in the temporary bungalows of the Orphanage School, and all the facilities such as toilets, canteen and classrooms were very rudimentary. Massive construction work was being carried out all over the town, spreading dust onto the originally clean and beautiful highland. However, Tibetans’ hospitality and passion for life were never reduced by the earthquake. Most children in the Orphanage School lost their parents because of the earthquake, but they gave love to each other in the school and received love at the same time. Every time the lesson ended, students swarm over to hug us. I knew that they yearned for someone to love and care for them just as their lost parents. I spent all my after-lesson time playing with the kids, and chatting with the bigger ones about their life problems, about what the world is like and about all the beautiful things in the life awaiting them.

After two weeks, we could not say goodbye to the students, but we eventually succumbed to the comfort of home, to all the trivial things that we needed to do for the rest of the summer. I promised them in my mind that I would come back again next year.

Chenqu and students from Yushu Orphanage School

Ruolin Yan:

Teaching this summer was undoubtedly a great experience. The trip offered so many opportunities to understand different cultures and live a different way of life. The children we met were so friendly and it was so difficult to leave when it came to the end of the trip. I know I learnt a lot from this trip, not only cultural learning, but a lot about the strength of all these children after suffering the earthquake.

Ruolin and students in the classroom

More photos:

Students say farewell to our volunteers
Temporary “classroom” at Yushu orphanage school
View on the street, Yushu county, Qinghai Province
Taching and interacting with students
We are friends
On the playground with students
Qinghai Xining Ta’er Temple one-day trip