When he first came to Shanghai from Anhui Province to live with his mother, Zou Hao got enrolled in a migrant school located in a remote area of Shanghai. Like many other migrant children, this 6-year-old boy was not even confident in his Mandarin, let alone having any interest in learning English. Scoring less than 40 points in his English exams, Hao did not see any point in learning the foreign language until his fourth summer in Shanghai, when Hao’s mother, Li Zhengfang, picked up a flyer from the village committee about Stepping Stones’ summer program and decided to sign him up. On the first day, Hao refused to go to the class, but eventually gave in under the condition that his Mom would stay with him in the classroom for the whole time. By the end of the very first class, he was absolutely amazed and dashed to his mom cheering:
“Mom, this class is so different! They did not speak a SINGLE Chinese word and it is super fun!”
Inspired by the distinctive study experience, his initial curiosity turned into an unprecedented learning passion. After completing the 2012 summer program, from September onwards, he commuted by himself to the community center every Saturday to attend Stepping Stone’s newly launched After-school Tuition Program. Encouraged by Stepping Stones’ volunteers, he was able to step outside of his comfort zone to communicate in English. His Mom even sectioned out a small space at home for him to practice his spoken English. By the time he graduated from primary school, he was able to score 85+ in his English tests. Although he had to return to his hometown to continue his middle school education, he is currently ranking top 3 in his class and just scored 96 points in his English mid-term exam this semester! Witnessing the dramatic effect on her own son, Li Zhengfang volunteered to help support Stepping Stones’ classes, and became a full-time staff in the village committee to coordinate the English program, which helps migrant children like her son to gain valuable experiences that they would not likely get elsewhere.