Students become teachers to play their part in virus fight

(chinadaily.com.cn) | Mar 11, 2020

Recently Yang Xidi has taken to wearing two hats-the first is that of a college student majoring in environmental science and engineering, and the other is of the tutor to the child of a Shanghai medical worker.

A junior at Fudan University, Yang has resumed class, albeit online, due to the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus.

In her spare time, she teaches an elementary student through WeChat four times a week, helping the child solve mathematical problems and improve his English skills.

Yang is a volunteer member of an initiative to provide tutoring to children of medical workers working on the front line of the fight against the novel coronavirus.

"I've heard from a friend of my mother, whose husband, a doctor, went to Hubei province to support a local hospital, and hasn't been able to see his child for more than a month," she says. "I am not a doctor, but I want to do something to help them. Giving tutorials to those children left at home is my little effort."

There are around 300 students participating in the initiative launched by the Fudan University branch of the Communist Youth League.

They are paired with 241 families, the parents of which are working at hospitals in Shanghai or have rushed to the virus-stricken Hubei province in Central China, and therefore cannot come home to their children.

Staying in her hometown in Anhui province, Yang is paired with a fifth grader Yan Jiabin, whose mother Jia Wen is a doctor in Shanghai's Jing'an District Central Hospital.

"I have been working in the hospital since Jan 31, and to reduce the risk of him contracting the virus, I sent my boy to live with his grandparents," Jia says.

The workload at hospital is heavy, according to Jia. "I cannot see my son, let alone pay attention to his education. Fudan University is a top higher education institution in Shanghai, so their initiative really helped me out," she says.

"Since Yang is tutoring my son, I work with less worry," she adds.

Jia Ganchu, deputy secretary of the university's youth league, says that the idea for the tutorial initiative was first raised by students who are eager to contribute to the battle against the coronavirus in their own way.

After discussing with hospitals attached to the university, which have deployed more than 400 medical professionals to Hubei province, Jia Ganchu says she learned that what they care most about is their children's education, so a plan was made to recruit student volunteers to give free tutorials.

"The recruitment notice was posted on Feb 11, and more than 400 students applied in two days," Jia Ganchu says, adding that student leaders of the youth league organized interviews to select those who have passion, strong communication skills, and the relevant experience.

Before the first group of students began tutoring on Feb 17, they were given three training sessions covering aspects of volunteer work, basic teaching methodology and psychological counseling.

Jia Ganchu says the university launched a second recruitment drive on March 3. The program will start in mid-March and will not just be limited to families in Shanghai, but will also extend to Hubei medical professionals whose children are in primary and secondary education.

Wei Yichou, a student majoring in clinical medicine at the university, says: "Many of our teachers and alumni have gone to help Hubei. Although we cannot go there, we feel their anxiety and can do our part to help lessen their concerns about their children's education."

Besides Fudan University, other institutions have launched similar initiatives. East China Normal University has paired volunteers majoring in teaching and education with some 280 children whose parents are doctors, nurses, police or community workers in Shanghai.

As for Yang, she says she also gains when she gives. Yang video chats with Jiabin four times a week. Each session lasts an hour, during which Yang gives Jiabin quizzes, explains the difficult parts of his homework and mathematics exercise, before going over what the fifth grader has studied.

"Every time when my little student thanks me for helping him solve a problem, I feel the joy of giving," she says. "When his parents tell me about his progress, I feel the joy of being trusted."


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