Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 October 2011
March 19, 2006: Sunday morning in Ma Shan county, Guangxi province. The students are preparing for their feedback presentation to the local research team and the farmers. We are having a very good field visit! Our Guangxi team represents a different kind of ‘family’ and has had different kinds of experiences as compared to last year; but just as joyful and interesting.
On Friday morning we received one of the most extraordinary welcomes we ever received from farmers, with singing and so much joy… Students refrained from starting interviews with farmers right away, but instead joined the singing. The local performance group prepared a special song – an ode to the researchers, who come to the village to work together with the farmers instead of lecturing to them.
The students also learned how to use threshing sticks… to make music together! Extraordinary! This was followed by lunch, followed by the first interviews, in two smaller groups. At the end of the afternoon, the local performance group danced, sang and presented a theatre play (they sang the special song again). It was wonderful.
This fragment of an e-mail message provides a glimpse of the experience documented in this book. Sent to a colleague at the other end of China, accompanying another group of M.Sc. and Ph.D. students visiting a rural community in the northern province of Ningxia, it illustrates the spirit of the educational innovation process highlighted in the following pages.