Dongying creates better after-school activities for rural students

(chinadaily.com.cn)| Updated : 2022-01-19

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"One, two, three, four; two, two, three, four......Hook your feet and lay your hands flat."

In an activity room of the Children's Palace, an after-school center in Longju town, Dongying district, 12 children listen to Song Tian, a volunteer teacher, explaining the key aspects of Chinese dance movements on weekends.

"I love dancing and also like here. It makes after-school activities more colorful. There are a variety of activity rooms here and teachers will organize interesting activities every week," Zhao Wanyu, one of the 12 learners from Zhaojia village in Longju town, said during her break time.

Sweat dropped from her forehead, but she lit up the room with a bright smile.

The place Zhao mentioned is a pilot site of the rural Children's Palace strategy that is carried out in Dongying city, East China’s Shandong province in an effort to enrich after-school activities.

The strategy is designed to freely offer primary and secondary school students as well as preschoolers in rural areas extracurricular activities covering science, culture, and practical education.  

The flower-drum dance, a national intangible cultural heritage, is a characteristic course at the Children's Palace in Longju town.

"The Children's Palace provides training places for rural children. We regularly open classes for children over four years old in the town every weekend. In terms of dance training, Latin dance is arranged on Saturday, and Chinese dance is on Sunday," said Song.

The Children's Palace offers opportunities for children to get in touch with traditional Chinese culture.

"Li Que wheat straw painting is an intangible cultural heritage project in Dongying city. It is an exquisite wheat straw artwork that is created by carving after fumigation, steaming, bleaching, scraping, pushing and ironing processes."

Jiang Qingming, a fifth-generation inheritor of Li Que wheat straw painting was sharing the knowledge and teaching classes about the art of wheat straw painting at the Children's Palace in Guangrao county.

Li Que wheat straw painting is a traditional handcraft popular in Lique town, Guangrao county and has a history of more than 200 years.

To help more children get to know the endangered intangible cultural heritage, Jiang regularly comes to the Children's Palace to teach students how to make straw paintings.

Guangrao county is a Shandong provincial pilot site of the rural Children's Palace strategy in Dongying and has established 16 such venues, offering a variety of activities for children on the weekends.

"It's very boring when I'm at home after school. It has much fun to come here. It's just a five-minute walk from home," said Wang Chenxi, a third-grader who lives in Guangrao county's Zhangzhuang village.

She hopes to participate in activities organized by the Children's Palace every day.

Wang said that during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday her teachers taught her and her classmates the traditional culture of the Mid-Autumn Festival. She not only learned the origins of the Mid-Autumn Festival, but also learned how to make lanterns.

In addition to cultural courses, science, sports, singing, calligraphy and psychology courses are also offered to give rural students a more well-rounded education.  

On top of that, Fuxing community in Dongying district has opened psychological counseling courses for teenagers to help solve psychological and emotional problems that can come about during puberty.

As of the middle of January, Dongying has established 54 Children's Palaces in the city's counties and districts, which have organized more than 3,700 activities, benefiting more than 78,000 teenagers in rural areas.

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Students perform the flower-drum dance in Longju town, Dongying city, East China's Shandong province. The dance is a characteristic course of the Children's Palace in Longju town. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

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Students from the Children's Palace in Longju town teach foreigners the flower-drum dance. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

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