Many children attending village schools in China lack basic educational facilities. Even without considering educational resources such as textbooks, other “basics” such as a desk, a seat and a pencil are objects children wish for but doesn’t have.
During the winter months, children attend school in sub-zero temperatures in tattered, passed-down clothing without access to heaters and a classroom with proper insulation.
Whenever I'm happy, bored or stressed, I dance. I first discovered my passion for this form of movement back in 9th grade, much to my peers' ridicule. Thing was, while my passion for dance was there, my movement and coordination wasn't - what originally happened more closely resembled a drunk staggering his way home rather than what you might recognise as "dance".
Nevertheless, I was determined to explore this artistic form. Much to the disapproval of my friends, I signed up to every dance session offered at my school and spent countless hours practicing. Be it K-Pop, formal ballroom dances or simply casual dancing, I loved and revelled in each experience. While my coordination and fluidity of movement was improving by the day, yet something held me back. It wasn't embarrassment nor self-consciousness, but that burning fear of others' judgement which proved hard to overcome. When it came time to perform the dances we had learned, I was always hyper-aware, not of myself or my movement, but of the opinion of others.
The opportunity to further explore dance came in January 2017 when the director of our boarding school introduced a program called "Beyond" where students had the opportunity to move beyond the classroom and for three weeks, travel to different cities around China and explore our passions. At that moment, I knew what I had to do.
With a close friend, we planned our three weeks. We conducted research and settled on touring eight of the most under-developed and impoverished cities in China.
Using my passion for dance and advocacy, we created a music video of me dancing across these cities hoping to raise money for schools in the Jiangxi region to purchase classroom supplies and sports equipment.
Overcoming illness, food poisoning and power outages, we edited and published the video, raising over $10,000 RMB to purchase books, pencils and sports equipment for children studying in Jiangxi village schools.
The opinions of others no longer mattered nor held me back, and with time, my self-consciousness all but faded. Was the dance perfect? No. Was every moment worth it? Definitely.