(I took this picture when I visited the village’s local school and this is a renovated building)
One of the biggest differences between the United States and China is how the urban and rural environment develop. In the United States, even in the very remote areas like a little town in Vermont, people’s living conditions are generally good. However, in China, the countryside is poor and extremely undeveloped. It is extremely difficult to improve people’s quality of life because they are trapped in poverty. Low-income families remain poor generation after generation. Due to the lack of education, these families can only work the low-skill, low-wage jobs. With such low income, families can only afford the basics of life, and education seems to be a luxury. Without education, the poverty trap simply becomes a downward spiral that doesn’t seem to end.
When I visited the Christian Village Shimenkan last summer and this past summer, I saw kids who are only 5 or 6 years old working with their parents. They carry baskets on their pack that is almost as big as themselves. Kids are forced to drop out of school to help their parents with farm chores. Education is their way to the outside world, and without it, they are stuck in this village working low-wage jobs their whole life.
When the preacher Samuel Pollard came to the village in the 1800s, he came with medicine, science, and education. School was free, and this gave kids the opportunity to learn and expand their worldview. Two students from this village had earned a Doctorate degree in the village’s entire history, and there will be many more in the future. For these two students to have such achievements, it took the whole village’s support both emotionally and financially. Again, this proves how rare it is for people from the countryside to receive an education. It is only with education that these people can step out of their poverty trap and connect with the world.