The last week of internship we were all in different villages helping to run summer camps for the Yi minority children. We had two summer camps, each three days long. The summer camps were focused around conservation, teaching the children about animals and how to protect them and their environment. Our job at the summer camp was to teach English lessons as well as about hero animal stories to get them to appreciate and love animals. I was in Bai Tia Wan village in Ma Bian County at the primary school Yan Fen Bai Tia Wan. The village is near the Da Feng Ding Nature reserve. To get to the village from the county the Nature Reserve staff drove us…with a camera crew (I’ll get back to that later). The road was extremely windy and unpaved. There were many large construction trucks driving up so sometimes it was hard to get past them. The view was gorgeous though with the river and beautiful mountains on one side. We even saw a bunch of mountain goats hanging out of the side of the mountain.
Before the camp even started we asked the kids to draw a picture of their village (at the end we had them draw another picture of their village so we can see if the kids viewed their village differently after the camp ie. more nature). While the kids were drawing their village pictures the camera crew wanted to video tape me. I talked a little about what I was doing at the camp and they also videotaped me walking around the room looking at the kids drawings. It was a little awkward and I am still not totally sure what the video is for but I did see a document the NR created with my picture of teaching the kids English on the front.
The kids in both classes were fifth graders. Some were older, 15, because there is limited room at the school. The older ones had to start later than normal. The main part of my English lessons I taught the kids about 12 animal words, a few colors and body parts. I felt like all of the kids really enjoyed learning the different English words as well as singing the song head, shoulder, knees and toes to learn a few parts of the body (I would hear them singing it in the dorm rooms). To practice the English words we played charades and hot potato. Another part of my English lesson was hero animals. I told them stories of animals saving humans from various different situations. Before I even told the stories the kids thought animals could be heroes. Telling them these stories is teaching them about the amazing attributes that animals have and giving more is a reason for them to be loved and cared for. I think the kids would have gotten more out of it if a Chinese speaking volunteer did this lesson instead of them translating for me.
The school was right near a river and lots of beautiful mountains. The only problem is the people in the village throw all of their trash in the river, polluting it. The school even has a large cement enclosure where they dump their trash but there is a hole in it that leads to the river. If it were to rain the trash would just run right into the river. This pollution is not completely their fault. There is no trash collection service. This is upsetting because these pepper are polluting and destroying their home and the beautiful environment but at this point they have nothing else to do and don’t know another way to dispose of the trash.
It was a wonderful experience getting to walk around the village and see how the yi minority live. A lot of them have two bedroom houses. They are outside all the time hanging out, drinking and playing card games. One day the headmaster took us to a clean river so we could go swimming. There were so many men swimming in the water having a great time.At the end of the summer camp it was sad to see all the kids go. They were also so thankful of everything that we all did for them. The last summer camp the boys sang us songs to thank us for teaching them about the environment and animals.