Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Trip to the Zoo 

CYU students taking migrant children to the zoo.

Zelene called me and asked if I would be willing to come to the campus today to teach some young migrant children. She and some other students from the college had organized a group activity for the migrant kids. These youngsters are the children of migrant workers, who spend their lives on the road. So the children are left without anyone to care for them. I guess they have a boarding school of some kind for them. It's hard for these kids, because they come from families that really struggle to provide for them. Migrant workers in China are in a tough situation. They work very hard, move around quite a bit, and sometimes have trouble getting paid. There is such a huge income disparity between rich and poor in China, and also between people from the countryside, and professionals in the cities.

In today's China, healthy single people can actually get by quite easily. They're quite resourceful, and mass transit is cheap and readily available. But once you have a family, life gets complicated. That's true everywhere, of course, but especially true in China, where wages for migrant workers are quite low, and living expenses in the city are going up all the time. It's not unusual for rent in Beijing to be close to ten times what rent for the equivalent lodging would be in a countryside community in western China.

Migrant workers manage to get by because they live very cheaply, and carry all their belongings with them. But what to do about children? They often get left behind. The lovely kids I met today were full of life, friendly and curious. In preparation for their trip to the zoo, we started out by talking about the differences between humans and animals. They were quick to come up with several things, and then I asked them if they had any questions. I didn't have to wait long. "Can animals play with computers? Can animals wear glasses?...."

I often wonder how things will go for these kids as they grow up and try to find their way in this country. It will not be easy for them. They won't have the same opportunities others have. But for one day, some kind students here at CYU brightened the lives of these precious young people. Thanks, Zelene and the rest of you.

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