For more than a decade, rural Chinese have seen villages slowly disintegrate as cities continue to grow at an astounding rate. Though rural China receives plenty of government support, there has been little growth in opportunities for villagers. Many feel stuck in traditional lifestyles while the cities are seen as a land full of opportunity. As a result each year thousands of families forfeit their hukou's and migrate to the cities in search of a better quality of life. Millions of migrant children are then left without the privileges of a public education and so have to enroll in costly migrant schools which are often understaffed and underfunded. By working with rural and urban communities, Village Progress seeks to give students opportunities beyond typical lesson plans.
There is much to be said about the value art has had in the history of education. Getting students engaged with art early on does much more for their future in the long run. Research has shown that students involved in artistic pursuits develop problem solving and critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, art is highly underestimated in today's school systems. With the main focus being placed in exam tests, the first thing that schools sacrifice are art programs. Village Progress aims to help reinforce the value of creative education, especially in private migrant schools where students are already lacking behind their counterparts.
With the help of local Kunming artists, Village Progress visited a migrant school last December 2014 and taught kids from ages 1st to 6th grade how to make puppets with only a brown paper bag and few pieces of construction paper. Through creating their puppets, students had a much easier time learning the colors, animals, and shapes in English.
Experiential learning is defined as the process of "learning through experience". We like to think of it as learning through reflection on doing. As part of our projects with underprivileged schools in urban and rural Yunnan, Village Progress seeks to provide learning opportunities related to nutrition, physical health, and environmental awareness through activities to rock climbing walls, field trips to local parks, and games that require organization and teamwork.
We believe that students are more excited to learn when they're involved in beginning and transforming their experience. These projects have been made possible thanks to the indispensable support of The Nature School (TNS), an experiential learning center based in southern Kunming and whose owner goes by the nickname Little Donkey. With the help from TNS, we organize fun activities, motivating kids to get excited about taking over their own physical health, nutrition, and sparking an interest for environmental awareness. To learn more about past experiential projects visit our Media Page.