Bridging the Divide
As a little girl, Ziyu, of Yangzhong, China, spent many days admiring the beautiful gardens designed by her uncle and dreamed of becoming a landscaper herself. But the path to any career that requires secondary education in China can be out of reach for children from rural areas. In fact, 60 percent of rural students do not attend high school.
Because the government pays for schooling only up to the ninth grade, families must find a way to pay for the cost of grades 10 through 12. Most families in rural areas cannot afford the cost of tuition, travel, books and other school supplies.
The divide does not stop there. Urban classrooms have state-of-the-art technology, well-qualified educators, and teach a variety of subjects. In contrast, rural classrooms are under-resourced, thus earn a poor reputation that keeps students from these schools from advancing into better schools.
Recognizing the ever increasing education gap defined by rural or urban residency, parents in China will quit jobs or leave their families to try to move to a city and eke out a living so their child can have an urban address and attend an urban school. Ziyu’s family was more fortunate. Ziyu was accepted into the Child Sponsorship program of Pearl S. Buck International which gave her the funds to attend the Chongshi Girls’ School in Zhenjiang. Fortunately, she has grandparents who live in Zhenjiang so was able to move in with them.
But life can be lonely for a teenager living with grandparents. That’s why Ziyu is grateful for her American Sponsors. Not only are they helping her achieve her dream, but the relationship she has developed with them helps her cope with the loneliness that arises with being away from her parents.
Ziyu and her Sponsor Family share a lot with each other through letters and cards. Her Sponsor Family has told her about their travels through Canada and their vegetable garden, while Ziyu taught them about the Chinese New Year, inspiring them to travel to New York City’s Chinatown to sample the holiday celebration themselves.
Ziyu’s struggles are not over yet. She has to battle the ongoing discrimination against rural students when she takes the college entrance exam and apply to schools. Only five percent of rural students are accepted into quality universities and many believe the rule which insists that the exams be taken in a student’s hometown perpetuates the bias.
But Ziyu is on the path to her dream and credits Child Sponsorship through Pearl S. Buck International with this opportunity. And she cherishes every letter and card she receives from her Sponsor Family, knowing that there are people out in the world supporting her in everything she does.