During the 2016 winter break, more than 100 University of Michigan- Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI) students participated in a variety of community services. JI’s winter community services, consisting mainly of “Teaching in Yunnan” and “Joint Departure,” are JI’s brand extracurricular activities. There were a total of three Yunnan teaching teams and 17 Joint Departure teams assigned to Shanghai, Yunnan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shaanxi, Fujian, Gansu and more than 10 other provinces, altogether as the core of JI students’ volunteer service where they dedicated their knowledge and enthusiasm.

1. Yunnan Teaching Mission: Ongoing Selfless Dedication

Since the establishment of the Yunnan Teaching Mission in 2006, during JI’s annual winter vacation, student volunteers have been bringing help and warmth to children in remote villages of Yunnan Province, the southwest hinterland of China. In December 2016, the 40 undergraduate volunteers of the eleventh mission carried out more than 20 days of teaching activities in seven primary and secondary schools in Yunnan’s Honghe Yi Hani Autonomous Prefecture and Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture.

After a decade, the Yunnan Teaching Mission has established a comprehensive and organized system covering every detail from member recruitment, interviews, training, teaching plans, the summary meeting and the emergency response mechanism. Before the mission, three training sessions were conducted, including the highlights of the curriculum, presentation skills, experiential training and a safety education course. The training ensured the qualification of the volunteers, the quality of teaching and the safety for both students and teachers throughout the process.

DSC00517副本The mission arrived at a local school

On December 20, 2016, the teaching teams arrived at their respective schools; three weeks of teaching activities kicked off. Besides helping local teachers with daily teaching tasks, the volunteers used allotted new teaching equipment to carry out classes of scientific experiments, music and art. They also organized after-school counseling, competitions, campus games and other special events. At the same time, volunteer teachers tapped into their respective talents to offer special courses such as Origami, Math Olympiad, Liberal Studies and Experiential Training. Due to the serious polarization of the local students, volunteers also used spare time to conduct some counseling and home visits. They contributed advice to schools and teachers with their in-depth understanding of the local education development and used their own resources to help local schools with whatever assistance.

DSC00468副本A volunteer teacher taught a special courses in a local elementary school

837478095366273144副本A volunteer teacher encouraging a student to give inspirational speech

Principal Luo of Wei Liang Hope Primary School gave the following review: “JI students are very responsible and carry out a curriculum that we usually cannot offer. They show the children the outside world. I regret that the time is too short to have an impact on the lower-grade children.” This is not only a recognition of the mission, but also a great encouragement for the students to continue the efforts and try to do better.

2. Joint Departure: Homecoming and hand-holding.

During the winter vacation, nearly a hundred enthusiastic students participated in another JI’s traditional community service project: “Joint Departure”, having returned to their alma maters to share their JI experiences and inform about JI’s philosophy and curriculum. They also fielded questions and concerns of their younger classmates.


Before the event, JI organized training seminars and distributed publicity materials, including JI bracelets, books, newsletters and other souvenirs to help students prepare for their speeches.

635568611951700786副本The students carried out this event in rich forms. Whether it was a speech in the auditorium or a discussion in a classroom, the speaker’s engaging introduction attracted a lot of attention. On leaving the events, participating students left their contact information for their younger classmates to follow up.

Through teamwork and coordination with their schools, students get to hone their skills in organization, cooperation and communication while helping improve JI’s image.
JI has always attached importance to social responsibility and related extracurricular activities on educating the students. As increasingly more students participate in the first line of community service, they will be able to pass more positive energy from JI and then spawn out more leading talents for social development.