On a mission: Xiaoying Qi seeks to serve students in rural China ☆
Drawn by its international reputation, Xiaoying Qi came to Teachers College from China where, she says, many people consider TC to be one of the most famous and prestigious institutions of its kind. Tao Sing Ju, regarded as the teacher of President Mao Zedong, is one of China’s most famous educational thinkers and practitioners, and an alum of TC. Because of this, Xiaoying was excited at the prospect of studying here.
A student in the Social Studies department, Ms. Qi is studying high-stakes testing. After her studies here, she plans to return to China not only to fulfill her contract with the government, but to share her passion for teaching with the students there.
Her dream is to work in the rural areas of her home country. “Before I came here, I used to volunteer to teach in rural areas in China. In China, it’s also the same as the United States: it has a high level of inequality. In cities, students get a better education, better access to everything. They talk about Haiti, but trust me, in the rural areas in China, in some provinces, things are even worse than Haiti.”
Xiaoying describes the difficulties that arise for rural students as more and more young people leave to try and work in the cities. The kids who are left behind are forgotten, their education seemingly unimportant. “No one cares about them. They fight. It’s just like what we have in public schools in the cities here. In China, it’s the reverse situation; it’s in the rural areas. Things are very terrible.” Most students drop out after middle school, which is compulsory in China. But because high school is not required, students leave school early. “Then they just fight, just struggle, and wander the street. So it’s quite a problem.”
Xiaoying is inspired to do her part to help curb this issue. “I want to go back and create programs to work with those students. But I’m always a pragmatist, so I definitely have to work in the university in order to get access to those resources and those channels to help me to work back in rural areas.”
Ms. Qi finds being a student in the United States both challenging and exciting. Having majored in American Studies back home, she was always eager to study in the United States. While she enjoys her program, friends, and colleagues and finds her professors very helpful and supportive, there are struggles outside of the TC environment that sometimes disappoint her. Namely, she regrets that people assume China is still an authoritarian country. She wishes more Americans would go to China and see for themselves what it’s like.
In her third year in the Teaching of Social Studies program, which she hopes to finish in five years, Xiaoying is taking full advantage of living here. “I love New York City so much because it is such a different place that makes me feel I am not that different. Whatever you like or whatever you think, you can always find someone to share your opinion. That’s pretty amazing for me.” She feels the same about her program here in Social Studies at TC. “My colleagues are indeed very tolerant with different thoughts and ideas. Even though they may not necessarily agree with what I said, we can always have the opportunity to have conversations. I always feel lucky that I can work with program.”