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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dilemma

July 2nd, 2007

Beginning on July 1st, Mr. and Mrs. Franzini and I (along with the help of Steve Barker, Malan Cai, and Johnny Lu) have been interviewing candidates for the Blessing Hands scholarship. We completed a few more interviews today, with a grand total of fourteen hopefuls (BLOGGER'S NOTE: We ended up interviewing one last scholarship applicant later on in the trip). Choosing our top picks for the scholarship was extremely difficult. And eye-opening.

The stories were heartbreaking. Some of the children had only one parent, or lived with a friend or sibling. With such situations comes an immense burden on the most capable of the family - be it a grandparent or even an older sister - to have a well-enough-paying job. During the summers when school is not in session, these students work in farms, bakeries, factories, and so on in order to supplement the family income.

In America, we do not realize how wealthy we are. Even I, as a "poor college student," have more money than an entire family of one of the candidates we interviewed. Wow. I could not believe it! This family makes only 800 yuan a year, which translates roughly into 100 DOLLARS A YEAR.

When asked the question, "If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?", many children gave sobering answers. One student said, "I would like to have a different lifestyle - to relieve the burden on my family." Another noted, "I would like my grandpa, who is crippled and has been in bed for two years now - to be able to walk again."

However, these children were not complaining... nor were they looking for sympathy. They were very matter-of-fact, while their kind hearts were evident. Many of the students' reasons for going to college were enmeshed in their desires to make money for their families, in hopes that they might have a better life. One boy even said he would like to be able to make enough to support his younger brother in receiving a college education. Amazing.

I wish all of these students could receive a scholarship, a college education, and a new chance at life.

Unfortunately, a few of the students have national test scores that quietly urge them to return to high school for another year, in hopes of raising their test score so that they may attend a better college (the better the college, the cheaper the tuition). Yet, another year in high school means more money, since the government does not fund education at this grade level. For poor students with lackluster test scores, this decision is a toss-up: "Should I raise my test score but pay for another year of high school... or accept the test score and go to a lower, more expensive university?"

I am so thankful that I am not the one choosing who will receive the scholarship. My heart goes out to all of these children.


While these children are not the current scholarship applicants, will they be able to afford college... and the chance for a better life?