Academy chan­nels moth­ers’ love

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By JU CHUAN JIANG and ZHAO RUIXUE in Qufu, Shan­dong Con­tact the writ­ers at zhaoruixue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

For Song Wen­wen, a 35-year-old farmer in ru­ral Qufu, East China’s Shan­dong province, noth­ing beats the classes she takes at the Nis­han Mother’s Love Academy.

“I have never had the op­por­tu­nity to learn about flower ar­rang­ing and color match­ing be­fore. I thought th­ese were el­e­gant arts that could only be done in big cities. It’s so great to talk to schol­ars and de­sign­ers who have come from th­ese cities and brought their knowl­edge to us,” Song said, shortly after fin­ish­ing her first class at the academy on Nov 16.

As the mother of an 8-year-old boy and a 2-yearold girl, Song said she looked for­ward to the next class. “I won’t miss any class even dur­ing the busy farm­ing sea­son,” she said.

For ru­ral women such as Song, the Nis­han Mother’s Love Academy, which was founded on Nov 16, adds color to their life.

Nes­tled among vil­lages that are sur­rounded by moun­tains 25 km south­east of down­town Qufu — best known as the home­town of the renowned ed­u­ca­tor and philoso­pher Con­fu­cius — the academy is the first of its kind in China, fo­cus­ing en­tirely on ed­u­cat­ing women.

It aims to en­rich moth­ers’ knowl­edge and ex­pand their hori­zons, so that they can bet­ter ed­u­cate their chil­dren, said Zhang Yin­jun, head of the academy.

“A mother’s love is not just for her chil­dren, it is also her abil­ity to love the world. Moth­ers, es­pe­cially those who live in ru­ral ar­eas, should em­brace other ac­tiv­i­ties in­stead of be­ing con­fined to their homes and only do­ing farm work,” she said.

Li Zi­jun, deputy head of the academy, said all ru­ral women who are in­ter­ested in the classes can at­tend.

Lec­tures fo­cus­ing on top­ics in­clud­ing par­ent­ing, how to deal with re­la­tion­ships and how to ap­pre­ci­ate tra­di­tional cul­ture will be held. Pro­fes­sors from uni­ver­si­ties, col­leges, re­search or­ga­ni­za­tions and pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions from both home and abroad will be in­vited to give lec­tures.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing moth­ers will also be in­vited to at­tend ac­tiv­i­ties in other cities.

“We will pub­lish the class in­for­ma­tion on­line and any mother who is in­ter­ested can apply to at­tend,” said Li, adding that most of the classes on of­fer at the academy will be free to at­tend.

Zhang said more mother’s love acad­e­mies are ex­pected to open across China soon, in a bid to pro­vide more ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to women in re­mote ar­eas.

The first opened in Nis­han be­cause it is close to Yanmu vil­lage, which is be­lieved to be the home­town of Yan Zhengzai, Con­fu­cius’ mother. Yan is said to have played an im­por­tant role in her son’s ed­u­ca­tion and her story is well known among lo­cals, Zhang said.

“The cul­tural at­mos­phere here goes well with mother’s love,” she said.

“We hope the academy can be a plat­form where women can get more ed­u­ca­tional re­sources, and we want to help women, es­pe­cially those in the re­mote ar­eas, un­der­stand that they can hold up half the sky.”

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Teach­ers and stu­dents at a flower ar­rang­ing class at the Nis­han Mother’s Love Academy in Qufu.

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