CONWAY, Ark. (Feb. 2, 2007) – Paul Yin, son of Yvette and Stanley Yin of Sugar Land, Texas, spent two weeks of his winter break teaching basic English to rural Chinese students. His trip to the Bo’ Ai (“Universal Love”) elementary school was funded by an Odyssey grant from Hendrix College.
“Teaching the students to read and speak even a little bit of English can give them the foundation they need to continue their education,” Yin said.
In the Shanxi province, where the Bo’ Ai school is located, most villagers are farmers or coal miners. The only way for their children to escape a life of poverty is to get a good education and be accepted at one of the country’s selective universities.
Yin, who first traveled to the Bo’ Ai school in summer of 2006, has made more of an impact than he expected. He and his friend Rick Cheng of Sugar Land, who accompanied Yin both times, expected the second trip to be largely a review exercise.
“We didn’t even expect to get to long vowels, to just be reviewing short vowels for awhile,” Yin said. “They had apparently retained a lot of information, though. They’d even improved in a lot of cases from the last time we went there.”
Last summer, Yin and Cheng let the students pick English names for themselves. Yin, who taught nearly 100 students among his four classes, used the students’ chosen names in reading and speaking exercises to keep them excited about the material.
“I tried to keep it light and fun,” Yin said. “Class involved playing different games where they would have to read words or speak words or write words.”
Yin, a freshman Economics and Business major, was one of 74 Hendrix students and faculty to receive an Odyssey grant from the Hendrix Committee on Experiential Learning. The committee allotted $62,960 to 11 student and eight faculty projects. Since the launch of the Odyssey program, the committee has apportioned more than $312,000.
The Odyssey Program, a curricular program that began in 2005, encourages students to embark on educational adventures that reflect their personal interests and abilities. Starting with the graduating class of 2009, all students are required to complete at least three Odyssey projects before graduation. Funding for Odyssey projects is awarded three times a year, on a competitive basis.
Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. The college is among 150 colleges featured in the 2007 edition of the Princeton Review America's Best Value Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.
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