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