What do we do?
We, at our core, are about service. The methods of social enterprise—borrowed from the world of entrepreneurship—are meant to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of our service. Our members learn first-hand how service and social enterprise can be impactful and rewarding to both themselves and, more importantly, the communities we serve in. No matter the careers and concentrations we may end up in, we aim to continue our commitment to social enterprise and social good.
In the past, we have undertaken spring break service trips in Japan and China, both of which aim to expand access to English education in East Asia. These trips are not simply week-long English-teaching excursions, however: They are opportunities for cultural exchange, innovation, and problem solving. We aim to partner with members of the communities and countries we serve in, whether those be teachers, community activists, or local college students. Even in a short week, our volunteers find themselves forming friendships and professional connections across continents.
What trips are being offered this year?
In March 16-20, 2020 (during Harvard's spring break), a group of Harvard volunteers will travel to Beijing to teach at the Dandelion School (蒲公英中学), Beijing's first and only middle school dedicated specifically to children of migrant workers. Harvard and Dandelion have partnered for the past 12 years to send a group of Harvard College volunteers to Dandelion over spring break.
Located in Beijing's southern suburbs, Dandelion provides students with housing, meals, and both a state-compliant middle school education as well as training in basic life, decision-making, and career skills. Due to China's household registration system, migrant worker's children are generally not allowed to attend public school in Beijing, and families often cannot afford to send their children to conventional private schools. The school seeks to serve this population, who otherwise might be left at home to attend school (away from their parents), or might drop out of school altogether.
Harvard volunteers should be able to commit their entire spring break to the Dandelion trip. All housing and meals at Dandelion are provided. HCSEA may be able to provide financial support for airfare and other accommodations, if needed, but volunteers should be prepared to arrange for some or all of their transportation. There are no language or teaching experience requirements—the HCSEA board will train volunteers in curriculum writing, teaching strategies, and communication before the trip. We are especially looking for students who have interests in education, teaching, China, the Chinese language, migration, inequality, and social justice, and we welcome students from any class year and any concentration to apply!
What are the goals of this trip?
Firstly, we aim to teach an engaging, useful, and inspiring week-long curriculum to the 8th graders at the Beijing Dandelion School, which serves the children of migrant workers, to foster hope and bring the students joy.
Secondly, we strive to train students to be effective teachers and be able to deliver their lessons with confidence and clarity.
Finally, we seek to create communities by nurturing long-lasting relationships within the volunteer group at Harvard, with our collaborators at Peking University, and with our students at the Dandelion School.