Teacher He Zhenzhen’s Unique Connection with Her Students

Teacher He Zhenzhen is a volunteer teacher in China’s Support a Volunteer Teacher program. She shares her memorable moments with her students and how she was able to connect to Shuori, one of her challenging students in school:

“Shuori Buri always had the lowest grades in the class due to his poor study habits. He was one of the students who stayed after school for extra classes every day, and I have known him and the other students since preschool. Despite being familiar with their situations, I always thought that Shuori didn’t like me. Whenever I asked him to stay and study, he would come up with excuses to leave, but I wouldn’t have it and would insist for him to stay. He even used to smile and say “No” when I asked him if he liked me or thought I was a good Chinese teacher. Even though school ended late, he never asked me to accompany him home, and I always insisted on taking him home. During breaks, he would play tricks on me, like showing me a fake snake, because he knew I was afraid of snakes. It wasn’t until we went on a field trip away from school that I discovered Shuori actually liked me. 

Teacher points something on the blackboard

One day, after school ended early, he and a few other students hung around outside my dormitory, not wanting to go home. I reminded him several times, but he smiled and said, ‘We want to play a bit longer.’ He stayed out until it got dark and finally asked me to accompany him home. However, he was unusually quiet on the way back. From leaving the school gate to arriving home, he barely said a word. When we were close to his house, he stopped walking and started speaking softly, saying he missed me. After saying this, he ran away, and no matter how many times I called out to him, he didn’t respond. I called his parents to make sure he made it home, and they confirmed he had just arrived. Finally, I understood the reason for his unusual behavior that day.

Looking back, I realized that the walks home with my students were quite interesting. It was a time when the teacher and students felt more like friends, and the students paid close attention to details. Some kids even noticed how many times the teacher had smiled that day or which part of the lesson some students didn’t pay attention to. They would talk about things they had observed in the village, like which parents were arguing, what crops were being harvested or planted, and so on.

They would also talk about their dreams and aspirations when they grew up. They would share feedback on what the teacher did well and what needed improvement. These were the kinds of conversations they wouldn’t engage in at school, where they often didn’t feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings. These walks provided an opportunity for us teachers to connect with our students on a more personal level, and for that, we are grateful.”

Today, Teacher Zhenzhen continues to inspire and connect with her students. This is all thanks to our generous donors who support teachers like her to reach the remote schools in China.

We have partnered with five remote mountainous Sichuan schools where our volunteer teachers will be located. These volunteer teachers don’t receive a salary but live off the support from this program to meet their food, accommodation, and transport expenses. Access to these schools is difficult, and these schools struggle to get teachers because of the harsh weather and isolation, so your support means a lot to the students.

Thank you to ZURU, GPA Global, ISNS, and supporters from Captivating’s Annual Shenzhen Charity Auction for making this program supporting 30 volunteer teachers possible. 



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