Overview of 2007 Crossroads of Hope Project

The Guizhou province is in southwestern China, approximately 6800 square miles. Because of its mountainous terrain, it is also one of the world's most impoverished, with minorities encompassing 37% of its population. In many rural villages, the children start working as soon as they can walk and have to strive for daily food, shelter, and other basic necessities, much less a basic education. Although many children want to learn how to read, the scarcity of money and books proves a formidable barrier. School is often carried out in makeshift shelters.

Guizhou is one of the poorest areas economically. About 50% of its population does not have any education above a primary one. One of the major problems is lack of resources. The pressures on rural children to leave school are huge. Ironically, because peasants' results from farming have improved, the pressure for children to work, rather than attend school, has increased as well. Without sufficient funds, education is limited to the meager material in the few books they have which make rural children ill prepared for the national competitive examinations they must pass to gain access to schooling beyond grade 9, further limiting their opportunities.

For many reasons, the involvement of non-governmental organizations in China in the area of education is little to none. Because China has only recently opened its doors to the world, many of the conditions in the scarcely populated regions are not well known and have only begun to be revealed. The high cost is beyond the reach of many families. In many areas, education for a year costs 160 yuan ($20) for each child, which in many cases is 1/3 of a family's annual income. In addition, little aid is given to the schools themselves, many of which are in desperate need of maintenance repairs and educational resources.

In 2007, the Chinese Academy of Memphis, with support from Fournier Learning Strategies, plans to raise funds from various business and individuals to provide ongoing educational aide to the Yunnan, Guizhou and Szechuan areas. Our goal for the 2007 Crossroads of Hope Project is to raise $15,000 by May, 2007 for educational supplies and materials which will go directly to the villages and to those in most need. The Crossroads of Hope team again plans to go to China directly at their own expense, to purchase the materials and personally deliver it to the neediest areas.

The Crossroads of Hope Project is run primarily by both American and Chinese-American students in great Memphis and Shelby county area and has now become a national project with chapters forming in five other states. It provides an excellent way to "bridge the gap" between the cultures of America and China while providing many students an opportunity they never had in both sides.