As a way to give back to his father’s family village, Steven Zhao ’19 tutored underserved children in English in rural China with Anthony Cho ’17, Ethan Tam ’19 and Stephanie Cho ’20 a July 8-22. Zhao’s visit marked his fourth summer working with the village.
Zhao taught at Tie Lou Elementary School located in the village of Mengjin in Luoyang, Henan, China. This year they had a class of about 40 students comprised of fourth and fifth graders. To ensure that the students could continue learning English after the tutoring group left, Zhao raised money and donated books and workbooks to the school.
Zhao decided to create the the program after learning more about his family heritage, he said.
“When I was 10, my father used to tell me about his childhood stories and his struggles with poverty, so that really motivated me to go to his village to give back and hopefully help the kids there find a better future for themselves,” Zhao said.
Not only did the opportunity benefit the Chinese students, Zhao said, but it was a fulfilling experience for the members of the tutoring group.
“It really made me appreciate everything that I had and giving back to the community was really nice,” Zhao said.
Zhao said that the students were always excited and passionate to learn by actively participating. He said that the trip’s most memorable experiences included having water fights, playing soccer and teaching the students American games such as “Simon Says.”
Although he is fluent in Mandarin, Zhao said he struggled to communicate with the students due to their regional accent. Despite this obstacle, he said the experience taught him more about Chinese culture.
“I’ve learned a lot about the Chinese culture and history during my four years teaching while conversing with the children and also visiting several historical attractions,” Zhao said. “Most importantly, I’ve come to better understand the strong value of Chinese hospitality as I was greeted with respect and love from everyone I met there.”