Zhang Hongbo, a young man concerned with education equality
At OCAC Suzhou, many of our students are balanced risk-takers who are able to showcase their glimmering talents that enlighten the OCAC campus every day.
In our “OCAC Star” column, we introduce our talented students and share with you their life stories and experiences.
This article features Zhang Hongbo (Jayden), a caring and courageous young boy.
Jayden graduated from primary school at the end of June 2022. From G1 to G5, his entire school life was spent at OCAC Suzhou. As a student who shares the mission and vision of the school, he rounded off his primary school years in a very “IB” way.
A young charity worker concerned with education equality
In G4, when learning the unit of inquiry ‘Sharing the Earth’, Jayden’s class was guided by their teacher to explore topics such as equality, fairness, and discrimination. They were asked questions such as “Should humans have equal access to opportunities and resources?”, “Why are discrimination and disparity prevalent?”, which opened up Jayden’s mind and stimulated deeper thought.
When choosing a topic for his graduation exhibition, education equality was the first idea that came to Jayden’s mind.
“For this topic, I created three lines of inquiry: 1. the impact of racial discrimination on educational equality; 2. the education pathways for people of different eras; and 3. how poverty affected educational equality.”
“Inquiry into this topic made me understand that education equality means everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, wealth or religious belief, has equal access to education. They should be treated equally and have equal opportunities for achievement in education. However, many factors in today’s society are affecting equality in education, including racial discrimination in Western countries and backwardness and poverty in some remote areas.”
The graduation exhibition presented by Jayden and his classmates was a great success. The audience was impressed by the breadth and depth of their discussion and thoughts on this social issue.
But Jayden’s journey of inquiry did not end there. When he saw the news of President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, he became interested in the “precise poverty alleviation” drive in the area. He wondered what he could do, as a primary school student, to help the children of the Yi ethnic group in Liangshan.
To this end, Jayden launched a book donation campaign at school. Through making posters and presentations, he mobilized other students to donate books to the children in this poverty-stricken region.
During the summer holiday after his graduation, Jayden continued with his charity works. Carrying nearly two hundred donated books, he traveled to a local charity school in Zhaojue County, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, to pass on the love and blessings of his classmates from OCAC Suzhou. He also visited two Yi families in Sanhe Village of Zhaojue County, following the footsteps of President Xi.
The trip to Liangshan was quite an experience for the 11-year-old Jayden, which led to further thoughts. He discovered that what is most lacking in Liangshan today may not be physical supplies, but teachers.
“The trip to Liangshan made me think about how poverty affects education equality. When I visited the local charity school, I found that the school building was recently renovated and the school had a science lab, a computer lab, a library, and a basketball court. Much of their teaching equipment was donated by charity as well. However, due to the remoteness and backwardness of this region, there were only three volunteer teachers for the whole school and there was no teacher there to give science, computer, PE, and music lessons to the children.”
“In an interview with two local girls, when I asked about their dreams for the future, they both said they wanted to be further educated at universities and return to their hometown as a teacher after graduation.”
Before his trip to Liangshan, Jayden planned to give a reading lesson to the G1 and G2 students he was about to meet, sharing with them the reading skills he had learned at OCAC Suzhou. However, during classroom interactions with the local students, he found that the Yi children’s Chinese language skills were not as good as he had expected. So he improvised and give the children a PE lesson instead.
He made the following reflections afterwards:
“I don’t think I was well prepared this time and didn’t get to know what they really needed. In the future, I will continue my charity works in Liangshan, and spend more days there to support the local students in a way that works for them.”
A young man willing to take risks
Guess what is the most fulfilling experience for Jayden at OCAC Suzhou? His answer: It’s harvesting huge cucumbers on the OCAC Love Farm!
In fact, the past five years at OCAC Suzhou is just like a bumper harvest for Jayden. In the eyes of his parents, the changes and progress of their child can be felt day by day.
“Through persistence and hard work, Jayden has achieved good results in academic performance, sports, and social work. He has also shown courtesy and understanding in his daily life in interaction with others. We see in him a confident, kind, loving, and hard-working young man who possesses extensive knowledge and stays ambitious in his future endeavors.”
In his own opinion, the biggest impact the school has on him is he has become a risk-taker.
At OCAC Suzhou, he was given many opportunities to show and improve his abilities. In G4, he was selected to be the host of the Primary School Winter Performance. He still remembers how “nervous and excited” he felt.
In G5, as a student representative, he delivered a speech at the online flag-raising ceremony with Principal Yu, reciting the poem I am Proud to Be A Chinese.
Jayden said, “The risk-taker attribute of the IB Learner Profile has motivated me to always challenge myself and make breakthroughs. I am grateful that the school has provided us with enough opportunities that allow for individual growth and development through action and reflection.”
It was a particularly hot summer in Suzhou this year. Despite the record heat, the young golfer was tough enough to keep practicing on the golf course from 8 am to 6 pm, until his skin began to sting with sunburn and his clothes were soaked with sweat.
Entering middle school, Jayden will continue to be a “risk-taker” who keeps on challenging himself and pushing up the limit. We look forward to seeing him continue with his charity efforts as a caring young man.