Author: writing officer,Yang Jiqing
Teachers, are you afraid of dogs? My family has a dog.
Teachers, the walls of my house are dark.
Teachers, I have to walk a long way to my home.
Teachers, my grandpa planted a "Green Tree”at home, it is very beautiful.
I got a rough impression of Qiangqiang’s home through his words: he and grandfather lived together, with a dog at the gate, and a “green tree” in the yard with small fruits hanging on it. Inside their house, the light was dim.
Qiangqiang on his way home
Qiangqiang is a child of the Dahai Township Preschool in Huize County. I knew him because his teacher told me that his home was the farthest from the preschool--he had to walk two hours’ mountain road to go to school and back home every day.
I couldn't imagine what it was like for a five-year-old to go back and forth for 4 hours every day. When I was still scratching my head, Miss Liu, one of project members, proposed that we should go home with Qiangqiang to have a firsthand experience of his way home.
According to Miss. Yang’s advice, Qiangqiang has been waiting for us to go back with him at the school gate after school.
Qiangqiang is waiting for us at the school gate
Qiangqiang's down jacket wrapped his upper body, which led to the schoolbag strap a little tight on his shoulders. He led the way. At first, Qiangqiang was still a little shy, so when talking to us, his little hands were holding the schoolbag belts tightly.
Looking for topics to chat with him, I pointed to a roadside tree and asked him, "what is that tree? Why is it so beautiful?"
"I don't remember what it's called, but there are many this kind of trees on the hills behind my home." Qiangqiang answered and stopped by the roadside, staring at the trees in the distance and thinking. Seeing him motionless for several seconds, I got close to him with a waving palm in front of his eyes. When he came to his senses, we looked at each other and laughed.
Pine trees not far from the preschool
Along the winding mountain road, we talked and laughed as we walked. And what Qiangqiang said most and enjoyed most were his good friends along the way.
Without noticing it, we have alreadly walked for half an hour. Stopping our steps and looking behind us, we saw the majestic mountains, and there was no trace of where we came from and where the preschool was.
Qiangqiang is leading the way
Behind us is the mountain road
I asked Qiangqiang to know that sometimes his grandfather would send him to the preschool when he was free, but most of the time he would go by himself and went home alone after school. He had to get up at 6:00 because the preschool classes began at about 8:00. When the mornings were darker in winter, Qiangqiang had to take a flashlight and walk alone for two hours. He never gave up school no matter rain or shine.
Maybe it was because we followed him, Qiangqiang walked faster than usual. He panted and said “hot”, putting his schoolbag on the roadside and trying to take off his down jacket. I went to help him and took his jacket for him and then we kept going. Miss. Liu and I kept up with him and expressed that we were not in a hurry so we could walk slowly.
Teacher Liu Chunyv is talking with Qiangqiang
Qiangqiang points to the mountains in the distance and introduces to us
Qiangqiang introduced to us the oats and Angelica sinensis planted by the villagers on the roadside, and funny things on the way to and from school, such as encountering snakes and birds, sticky grass, foreign grass, Suoni, etc.
Qiangqiang tells us it's oats
Qiangqiang says that the oat straw tastes sweet
Thus, I wondered what were "foreign grass" and "Suo Ni". It was not until he pointed to the objects along the road that I realized that "foreign grass" was a very common local plant, and its name was given by Qiangqiang, and "Suoni" was our well-known "Suomei".
Qiangqiang and “foreign grass”
Qiangqiang is picking sticky grass
Qiangqiang grabs the "Suoni"（i.e. Suomei) on the roadside
“ Wow, my little frog.” Qiangqiang said and ran to the grass at the roadside, as if to pick up something.
I went to know that this was the paper frog he folded in the preschool yesterday, but on the way home from school, he accidentally dropped it in the grass.
After picking up it, he couldn't wait to show us how to play with it on the stone ridge.
A little paper frog that fell in the grass yesterday is found
Playing with the paper frog at the roadside
When encountering roadside slogans and posts, Qiangqiang would stop to read to us word by word according to what he recognized, and we also saw there was his and his brother's name chalked on the stone wall. He expressed that his grandparents did not allow him to scribble at home, so here was his graffiti wall.
Qiangqiang points to the roadside slogan and read it to us
Qiangqiang's "graffiti wall"
Qiangqiang says "Why this icon is like a big watermelon"
After we climbed a big slope and making a turn, Qiangqiang pointed to the front house and told us that it was his home, but we had to walk along “Cattle and Sheep Road”.
When we arrived, we realized that “Cattle and Sheep Road” was also the name given by Qiangqiang, because there were a lot of excrement of cattle and sheep.
"Cattle and Sheep Road"
It took us an hour and 40 minutes to get to Qiangqiang's home, but just before we got to the door, a little dog rushed to bark at us, which scared Miss Liu and I to step back.
Qiangqiang stood there and asked awkwardly, "didn't you say you're not afraid of dogs?"
Miss. Liu and I exchanged a smile, thinking that in fact we were not afraid, but it would certainly frighten us when the dog suddenly rushed to us.
We tried to calm down and followed Qiangqiang to open the door and walk into the house.
Outside Qiangqiang's home
Inside Qiangqiang's home
“Grandma”, Qiangqiang called a few times, but no one answered, so he climbed to the roof to keep calling. It turned out that his grandmother was selling things at the roadside above the house.
Qiangqiang is climbing up the roof and calling his grandma
There were two houses in Qiangqiang’ s family, one of which was a small, unoccupied earthwork. And the other was a newly built bungalow where Qiangqiang and his grandparents lived in. Pushing the door in, I found that the light was really dark and the wall was the same. When I heard him talk about it before, I thought it was blackened by smoke, but when I saw it, I found that it was mouldy and blackened after being damp. In this house, the dining table, sofa, cabinets, pots and pans were arranged in a disorderly manner.
In the dark house
Because no one was at home, we went out with Qiangqiang to find his grandmother.
On the doorstep, Qiangqiang suddenly stopped to point to a tree full of small fruit and told us that this was the green tree he was talking about, and it was planted by grandpa. It turned out that the name "Green Tree” was also named by Qiangqiang himself, because he didn't know what it was, and thinking it grow with an appealing shade of green, he gave it this name.
"Green Tree” planted by grandpa
We went from the back of Qiangqiang's house to the highway above. Here, his grandmother was selling vegetables, arraying spring onions, melons and green vegetables that she grew.
Grandma is selling vegetables by the road
Qiangqiang happily ran over when he saw his grandma and said that we had sent him back today. Grandma glanced at Qiangqiangand then turned to look at us and said, “He is the farthest away from home in the preschool. It's really hard for you to sent him home.” And finally expressed her gratitude to us.
After talking with his grandmother, I learned that Qiangqiang's parents divorced, and Qiangqiang's father deserted Qiangqiang after remarriage, while his mother needed to go out as migrant worker and let his grandparents look after him. Qiangqiang's grandmother told us that Qiangqiang was very naughty and hard to take care of. She had suffered bronchitis again not long ago, but fortunately, Qiangqiang was obedient most of the time. She hoped that he could grow up quickly when they were not too old, then there would be no regret.
Qiangqiang's grandmother talks with us
When we talked with grandma, Qiangqiang entertained himself on the roadside, with a smile on his face. It was obvious that he had a deep relationship with his grandma, and he liked her very much. When he heard us mention his mother, he suddenly stopped and sat on the kerb, with a piece of grass in his hand, sadness in his eyes and solemn expression on his face.
Qiangqiang is helping an old granny hold the basket
Grandparents were old and there was no stable source of income in the family, but they still needs to take care of Qiangqiang in such financial difficulty. Obviously, grandparents were struggling for the family, but they would not reduce their love for Qianqiang because of the difficult conditions. For Qiangqiang, his parents were more of fragmentary memories in his mind, and the strength on his face concealed his inner desire for parental care.
Qiangqiang goes home with me
In any case, Qiangqiang spilled his happiness on the mountains on the way home, and the mountain responded to him with its broad embrace. Shuttling between the majestic mountains, Qiangqiang stays strong and brave day after day.
In the near future, I hope Qiangqiang will always be happy and strong as the name suggests.
"One Village, One Preschool and Pre-primary Class Turns into Preschool" Projects is a pilot policy of Yunnan Provincial Department of Education in the field of preschool education. It is hoped that the existing preschool classes could be changed into independent pre-classes/schools, and the pre-classes/schools will be set up in large administrative villages, so as to gradually realize the preschool education layout of "One Demonstration kindergarten for One County, One government-run kindergarten for One Township, One Preschool for One Village". Huize County is one of the pilot counties. After preliminary communication and field visits and research, the Federation for Associations Connected to the International Humana People to People Movement (Switzerland) Yunnan Representative Office cooperates with the Education and Sports Bureau of Huize County to assist them in recruiting and training teachers under the policies of "One Village, One Preschool and Pre-primary Class Turns into Preschool" Projects. It mainly trains and supervises the teachers in terms of knowledge, curriculum management and teaching, to change the teaching method of "primary education" in preschools. In addition, provide teacher training rooms, management toolkits, teaching videos and other related tools and materials. On-the-spot supervision and visit of preschool education centers to provide hardware financial support for preschools. Expand the coverage rate of rural preschool education and improve teaching quality so that more children can receive quality preschool education.
This project is jointly organized by the Federation for Associations Connected to The International Humana People to People Movement (Switzerland) Yunnan Representative Office and the Education and Sports Bureau of Huize County.
This article only represents the views of the author and not the views or positions of the donor.