|Nicole Heise, program director of Learning Enterprises China, conducts an English lesson for primary school students in Jishui, Jiangxi province. (Photo/China Daily)|
Like most middle school students in China's rural areas, 14-year-old Wang Zhen used to find English the toughest subject.
The situation changed this summer, after he spent a month with a group of native English speakers from the United States and Ireland who were in his hometown Jishui, Jiangxi province, to teach the language.
"I am so grateful to have native speakers to teach us English for free," Wang says with glowing eyes. "They are so caring and patient. Now I find that studying English is not so difficult."
Wang is among some 1,000 students in Jishui who enjoyed an unforgettable summer being taught by volunteers who are undergraduates of 14 colleges and universities from the US and Ireland, including Stanford University, Brown University and Trinity College. Students from China's Nanjing University also took part in the teaching program.
Yin Shupan, a first-year high school student, says after attending the classes, he felt confident conversing in English, for the very first time.
"Even though I'm already a high school student, I could hardly have a conversation in English before the summer program. Our teachers came up with a thousand and one ways to open our mouths," he shares. "Within only two weeks of attending the classes, I was ready to practice what I learn."
The program is run by Learning Enterprises China (LE China), a student-run non-profit organization. Through 11 years of work in Anhui and Jiangxi provinces, the organization has opened up a new pattern of volunteerism. Apart from teaching English, volunteers are involved in social services, urban-rural development, and international cultural exchanges.
Learning Enterprises, which was founded in 1991 at the United States' Georgetown University, runs programs in more than 10 countries, including Thailand, Poland, Mauritius and Hungary.
Nicole Heise, program director of LE China, says China is the only country where their programs are provided with local teaching partners.