Cai Chunting (C), a teacher from Xiangyang City of central China's Hubei Province, and Cering Choden (back R), a local teacher, tutor students in a chemical experiment in Shannan No.1 Senior High School, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, May 7, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhang Rufeng)
LHASA, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Yang Ling, a music teacher in south China's Guangdong Province, has two notebooks recording such personality traits of her students 3,000 km away in the plateau region of Tibet.
"Ma Zhixiong is an introverted boy. During my home visit, I discovered that he has weak learning skills, and he does no homework at weekends," reads one note. Another says: "Song Jiahui is meticulous and considerate. But, according to his parents, he lacks self-control and stays engrossed in his cell phone at home."
Her observations are based on the 178 trips to the homes of her students in the city of Nyingchi over the past three years.
Yang is a teacher in Guangdong's Renhua County but volunteered to teach at the Bayi High School in Nyingchi, Tibet, from 2019 to 2022.
She is among the 2,000-plus teachers who volunteered to work in Tibet since 2016, as part of China's pairing-up assistance program to help Tibet's development.
The teachers worked in 21 schools across Tibet in different batches, helping these schools improve their teaching quality.
Braving numerous challenges such as high-altitude sickness Yang applied to be a class supervisor after her arrival in 2019.
"My students represented diverse ethnic groups. I wanted to know more about them, and being a class supervisor offered me greater access to approach them," said Yang, who concluded her three-year tenure in Nyingchi and returned to Guangdong last month.
Her routine home visits stemmed from a chanced visit to one of her students' home. The student had passed out during a physical education class, so Yang went to her home with nutritional supplements and fruits. Yang realized that she learned a lot by interacting with the family during the visit.
"Her parents and I exchanged a lot of opinions about education, and our conversation lasted until midnight," she recalled. This experience prompted Yang to conduct regular home visits no matter how far it was.
She bought an electric bicycle to save time, but it still took her more than an hour to reach some of the most distant homes.
After each visit, Yang would write down in detail her observations in her thick, worn notebooks. She also carefully documented any little changes she saw in her students.
"These visits not only allowed me to learn more about my students outside of the classroom but also made my students feel valued by their teacher," Yang said, adding that she would adopt differentiated communication methods for the students based on their personality traits.
One of her students, Tenzin Konchok, came from a single-parent family. His grandmother took care of him as his father had to work in the regional capital Lhasa.
The grandmother said that the boy became reserved after his parents divorced, and his academic performance had since deteriorated significantly.
"Following Yang's multiple visits, I saw a change in him. He grew more extroverted and forthcoming with his thoughts," she added.
Yang also took the initiative to set up a music club in the school, teaching the Chinese zither or guzheng as an extracurricular activity.
After returning to Guangdong, Yang often received WeChat messages from her students in Tibet, as well as their parents, telling her about their examination grades and senior high school admission results.
"Hearing all the good news from Tibet, I know my efforts have paid off. I believe that's the best gift I could have left for Tibet," she said. ■