Summer 2005


       China has a large rural population – 800 million out of its 1.3
billion people are farmers.  Out of such 800 million people, around 150
million are migrant workers who have migrated to the cities in search for
work and for a better life.  This number is increasing by 5 million every
year.  Guangdong Province, the province neighboring Hong Kong, historically
has been the main receiving province of the migrant workers.  About 35.5%
migrant workers in China are working in the Guangdong Province.  Most of
them concentrate in the area surrounding Pearl River, a.k.a. Zhujiang (
meaning Pearl River in Chinese) Delta, made up of 7 cities including the
capital of Guangdong Province, Guangzhou, which is believed to be the
largest manufacturing base for the electrics, toys and shoes worldwide.  No
wonder the Zhujiang Delta has earned the name "Factory of the World".

       Instead of the promising land they have dreamed for, what most
migrant workers have found in the new cities was the life of an underclass
group. According to a survey collectively done by the Social Work
Department of Guangdong University of Business Studies and the Law School
of Zhongshan University in Guangdong, migrant workers often are the victims
of various ill-treatments and abuses, such as delayed payments by the
employer, extended overtimes, unsafe working environments and the lack of
the labor protections, especially for the female workers.  More destructive
for the migrant workers and devastating for their families are all types of
work-related injuries and illnesses.  The statistic data released by
National Statistic Bureau showed that in 2004 there were 130,000 work-
related deaths, most of which were that of migrant workers1.  In three most
dangerous industries -- mining, construction and chemical – where migrant
workers make up the main work force, 80% work-caused deaths were that of
migrant workers.2  Zhujiang Delta, as the biggest host of the migrant
workers, unfortunately also becomes the place where the most work-related
injuries have occurred.  Professor Zeng Feiyang of Zhongshan University
estimated that, based on his survey of the local hospitals, each year on
average there were more than 40,000 fingers chopped off in 3,000 work-
related accidents in Zhujiang Delta.  Because of the numerous accidents
each year, many small hospitals in the small cities around Zhujiang Delta
have become famous for performing surgeries on injured fingers3.

       In today's China, there are few organizations or institutions
involved in the efforts to promote the interests of migrant workers and
help them dealing with hardship and prejudices that they have to face in
everyday life.  Despite the call of change from the central government,
little work has been done at the local level.  As Mr. Robert A. Kapp, the
former president of the US-China Business Council best put it in the May
–June 2004 issue of The China Business Review: “…initiatives normally
originate at the very top and are transmitted downward to provinces and
localities for implementation. The path downward is a labyrinth of
bureaucratic and economic vested interests, and all too often the ideas of
the central leadership have dissipated into ineffectualness by the time
they reach the action level at the bottom of the hierarchy.”

       Recent years, however, have seen the increasing important role
played by non-governmental organizations in servicing the migrant workers
communities.  Among the pioneers in this area in Zhujiang Delta are the Law
School and Social Work Department of Guangdong University of Business
Studies (the "GUB"), the Migrant Workers Legal Services of Panyu, Shengzhen
Migrant Workers Center and the Legal Clinic of Law School of Zhongshan
University. Although these organizations have been dedicated to the cause,
the services they provide are still far from enough to meet the demands of
the migrant workers.  A more organized and dependable service channel is
needed to fulfill the needs of the growing population of migrant workers.

       Thanks to the financial support from the U.S. – China Legal
Cooperation Fund and support from GUB and China Institute of Public
Affairs, during the summer of 2005, student volunteers from GUB have
conducted pre-employment training programs (the " Programs") for the
students in the vocational schools in the townships of Yongzhou and
Pingjiang, two rural townships in Hunan Province, one of major source
provinces for migrant workers in China.  Students from vocational schools
such as those in Yongzhou and Pingjiang are being trained to work in the
factories located in economically more developed Southern and coastal
provinces. The students who participated in the training program will be
working in the factories located in the Zhujiang Delta after their


       Behind this Program was an innovative concept the organizers would
like to promote: peer education between the college students and the
migrant workers. Currently, China has more than 12 millions college
students, about 1/3 of them come from rural areas where the migrant workers
come from.  Majority of migrant workers are in the same age group as the
college students.  It is much easier to foster trust between the students
and the migrate workers with whom they share similar background.  On the
other hand, providing public service to the disadvantaged and underserved
community is a self-educating process for the college students, nurturing
the sense of social responsibilities in them.

       The Program was first of its kind in China.  It was first time that
the college students volunteered their time during their summer holiday
to provide trainings for migrant workers for free.  It was the first
training program for migrant workers designed and executed in line with the
theories and ideas of the social work education, utilizing teaching methods
and teaching tools entirely different from the traditional mode of
teaching.  The training courses were designed with a goal of nurturing
confidence in the recipients, building trust between the trainers and
trainees and encouraging giving and sharing.  The trainers combined
lectures, games, in-class teaching and out-of-class exchanges with
individual trainees by using slides, pictures, pamphlets, discussion groups
and other flexible methods to obtain the desired results of the training.
Throughout the training, the trainees and the faculty of the vocational
schools where the volunteers have visited unanimously approved such form of
teaching.  It was an undoubtedly part of the most valuable (and successful)
legacy of the Program.

       The Program was conducted in three phases: the preparation phase,
the training trips and post-training phases.


       From the end of May to early August of 2005, under the guidance of
Professor Ze Xian Xie and Ms. Ge Li, a total of 34 volunteers (28 from the
Social Work Department and 6 from the Law School) from GUB spent almost two
months to make the best preparation they could for the training trips.

       From May to June of 2005, more than 30 students formed the volunteer
groups.  After much discussion, the volunteers together designed the
training courses around six themes: adapting to the city life, laws and
regulations, prevention of work-related injuries, prevention of work-
related illness, personal health, safe sex and peer support.  The
volunteers then were divided into six training groups, each group
responsible for preparing one course on one of the six themes.  During the
month of July, members of each group collected the teaching materials,
wrote teaching outlines and notes, designed games and programs, held
rehearsals of the teaching sessions and worked on individual communication
and public speech skills.  In August the six groups met to hold rehearsals
together.  They commented on each other's work and exchanged ideas before
they split to work on the courses they were responsible.  Then the groups
would meet again to go over the preparation.  This process continued until
the day of their departure for the training trip.  At the same time of
forming the teaching groups, student volunteers also voluntarily formed
groups to work on the logistics of the trip, managed media relationships
and public relations, controlled budget and expenses as well as printed
pamphlets and other materials.  It was during the hottest days in
Guangzhou.  Every day the temperature was above 100 FH, but the volunteer's
enthusiasm was even higher than that.

       (There was an incident happened during the preparation period, the
training for students has to stop for couple days due to the police
department interruption. But after the explanation from GUB, the program
got support not only from the police department but also from Canton
Institute for International Studies of Development and Research Center of
People’s Government of Guangdong Province.)

       On the afternoon August 16, 2005, before the first group of
volunteers departed for Yong Zhou Township, Dr. D'arch Martin, professor of
University of Toronto, a specialist on workers' education, and Dr. Kaiyi
Guo of Hong Kong Baptist University came to GUB to meet the student
volunteers.  Dr. Martin shared with the volunteers his more-than-a-decade
experience of working with workers.  He advised the students on the skills
of public speech.  Both Dr. Martin and Dr. Guo observed the student's
rehearsal of the teaching sessions and provided comments and suggestions.
The students were greatly inspired by the words of the two professors.


1.  Yong zhou Training Trip

       On August 16, Ms. Ge Li led the first group of volunteers of 11
students from GUB boarded a train, and after a 10-hour ride, they arrived
at Yongzhou Township ("Yong Zhou") around 3:30 am the next day.  Yongzhou
is located at the Southern part of Hunan Province, bordering Guangdong
Province.  Yongzhou has many vocational schools training local junior high
or senior high school graduates to work in the factories in Zhujiang Delta.
Yongzhou Harvard Engineering School where the training was conducted is one
of the big vocational schools in the township.  The school offers training
in sales and marketing, auto maintenance, secretarial services,
electronics, etc.

       Hours after the arrival, the volunteers were meeting the students
and faculty of Yongzhou Harvard Engineering School.  From their
conversation with the students, the volunteers learned that most students
came from poor families in the neighboring villages.  Many of them had
family members working in the cities in Guangdong provinces.  The students
told the volunteers that they longed for the opportunities that a city life
could provide but they were afraid of the ruthless competition and severe
prejudices in the cities.  Volunteers held meetings with the teachers and
interviewed the dean of the school.  They learned that the subjects of this
training were all new to the students.

            On August 18, 2005 the volunteers started their first day of
the training for 60 students.  The topics included labor law, prevention of
work-related injuries and illnesses.  The students showed great interest in
the discussion of labor law issues.  Many students gave examples of labor
disputes that they heard of and asked the volunteers for best solutions.
In the session related to the work-related injuries and illnesses,
volunteers used slides and photos to illustrate the different types of
work-related injuries and illnesses and used cases to discuss the causes
and preventive methods.  The students were divided into groups to play
games to understand the detrimental effects that such injuries and illness
could have on people’s lives.  The students responded with great
enthusiasm.  Some of them even shared the stories of their friends,
relatives or family members that were either injured or stricken by illness
at work.  The first day of training ended successfully. Some students from
other classrooms were attracted by our wonderful atmosphere, so they came
voluntarily and requested to be included in our training.  We wished we
could accommodate more students, but in order to insure the quality of the
training, we have to regrettably reject their requests.

             After the first day’s successful training, the volunteers did
not stop there, instead they spent the night of August 18 discussing the
hit and miss of the daytime training, revising and refining the training
materials for the next day.  They decided that those volunteers who would
not be teaching the next day should join the students’ groups and act as
the leaders and coordinators in the group discussions.  In addition, Mr. Ge
Li asked the volunteers to prepare question lists for the next day’s
training and use them as the guidelines for discussion.

            August 19 the volunteers began the training on personal health
and safe sex.  Sex education is only offered in some selected schools in
the big cities.  It is non-existent in Yongzhou.  With the help of the
question lists the volunteers had prepared and the efforts of those
volunteers who participated in the students’ group discussion, the
students overcame their shyness and actively participated in the discussion
and debates.  The students were so engrossed by this most personal topic to
them that the volunteers had to extend the training again and again to give
them more discussion time.  The positive atmosphere continued through the
afternoon training on self-protection and adaptation to the city life.  Led
by the volunteers, through role plays and games, the students learned
practical knowledge as well as some useful tips to manage their lives in a
strange city, from how to find out whether the employment agency was a sham
to where to go for free help in case of any emergency. The students stayed
long after the end of the training to continue talking with the volunteers.

            The trip to Yongzhou was short.  However, it provided a
foundation for the follow-up event. With the voluntary assistance from Mr.
YongFu Wang, a local businessman, the whole trip went on well and
efficient. After their return to Guangzhou, the volunteers discussed their
experience with Ms. Ge Li and Professor Xie Ze Xian.  Together they
consolidated the teaching topics from six to three main ones, namely, labor
law issues and adoption to the city life, prevention of work-related
injuries and illnesses, and sex education.  The volunteers also believed
that their participation in the group discussion and spending time with the
trainees before the training were key to the success of the training.
Accordingly, they revised the agenda for the training to be conducted in
Ping Jiang Township and decided to devote the first day of the training to
games and other activities in order to build the trust and understanding
between the trainees and the volunteers.  Based on the new training topics
and agenda, the volunteers held rehearsals and continued to improve the
content of the training materials.

            On August 22, 2005, Ms. Jiang Xiao, representative from China
Institute for Public Affair, one of the two sponsors of the Program, came
to meet the volunteers in GUB.  She participated in the training rehearsal
and answered questions from the volunteers.  In her speech, she thanked the
volunteers for their excellent work and encouraged them to continue to
distill knowledge and to inspire confidence and hope in the migrant workers
in the coming training trip.

Pingjiang Training Trip

            After another three-day non-stop rehearsal, the volunteers
departed for Pingjiang Township in Hunan Province (“Pingjiang”) on August
23, 2005.  It was another 10-hour train ride and two more hours on a bus to
the mountain area, but it was a ride full of excitement and longing.  This
time the volunteer team had expanded to include 30 student volunteers, led
by Ms. Ge Li and a program observer sent by the Law School of GUB.  The
place of the training is Pingjing Technology Vocational School.

            Pingjiang is located in an economically under-developed region
in Hunan Province. The town has been recognized by Chinese government as
one of the 100 the poorest towns in the country. Pingjiang Technology
Vocational School was formed only a year ago on the consolidated basis of
three small vocational schools in the township.  The students there were
all graduates from the junior high schools located at the surrounding rural

      Drawing from the previous  trip’s experiences, instead of starting
the training courses right away, the volunteers went to meet the faculty
and the students who would be participating in the training as soon as they
arrived.  The volunteers used the topics on the question lists they had
prepared and distributed to the students to break the ice.  They asked the
students about their town, their families, their individual interests and
goals in life.  They played games and sang songs together.  Volunteers also
taught the students "encouragement of love" – a rhythmical chanting
accompanied by the clapping of the hands which was designed by the
volunteers and aimed to instill confidence in the students and enhancing
bonding between them.  At the beginning the students were shy and reserved
but very quickly they opened up and join the various activities whole-
heartedly.  By the end of the morning the students and the volunteers were
addressing each other as brothers and sisters, as friends within the same
age group often do in China.

            On August 25, the volunteers discussed the labor law issues and
how to adapt to the life of a big city, such as the various problems
migrant workers might came cross when they first came to a foreign city and
where to get help if they ran into problems.  Again the volunteers used
role plays and games to illustrate the issues.  For example, the volunteers
played the role of a fake head hunter, claiming he could find jobs for the
migrant workers played by the students if a fee was paid upfront.  Through
the role play, the students learned the ways to distinguish such fake job
service agency from the real ones.

            The course went so well that after the class the students
voluntarily suggested that a party should be held that night. The volunteer
trainers and students got only two hours to prepare for the party yet it
was such a heart-warming success.  The students showed amazing talents in
the programs they put on, dancing, drama, and singing.  In the sound of "
encouragement of love", students who used to be too reserved to even talk
to each other now stood hand in hand and sang together.  The party reached
its climax when everybody reached out and sang together "Friend", a song
extremely popular among young people in China.  A student later wrote in
her journal " At that moment, I felt we were all immersed in the ocean of
love.  There is no difference, no distance between us.  It was the most
wonderful feeling…"

            The next morning saw volunteers walking into the classroom in
the earnest and eager eyes of the students.  The morning course was the
prevention of work-related illnesses and work-related injuries.  Since the
content could be a bit too abstract for the inexperienced students, again
the trainers used the game method. For example, in order to leave a real
impression on the students of the graveness of the subject matters, the
volunteers asked the students to try to peel an orange with the fingers
bound together.  The last part of the class was discussion.  The trainers
and the volunteers had such a lively discussion that the class time was
extended again and again.

      The trainers had a short break and returned to the classroom with the
last teaching course: health and sex education. After two-day learning and
playing together with each other and the volunteer trainers, the students
were very open to this subject matter which was usual a forbidden topic in
Chinese homes and schools.  Even the most naughty boys in the students were
listening attentively to the training's talk.  Even the shyest members of
the discussion group raised questions and offered their opinions.  Many
took notes.  Some wanted to talk to the trainers privately.  The enthusiasm
of the students was so moving that all the trainers, including those who
were teaching this course, joined the heated discussion and the Q&A
session.  Everybody forgot the dinner, the time and the waiting bus that
was going to take the trainers to the station.

        The departing time came.  It was a moment of sweet sorrow for
everybody.  The trainers and the students took turns to give their "one
sentence of summary (of the training)".  They were truly the words of "
encouragement of love" --- "You are all so amazing. Believe in yourself and
you will be what you want to be!" One trainer said. "Thank you so much.  It
was the happiest school day I ever had!" One student said.  One student was
more straight-ford than her peers " I do not want you to leave. I love you
guys, I will always remember you!" Tears were falling, hands held and hugs
given freely. It was the most unforgettable moment for everybody. As one of
the volunteers, a law school student, said later in her report: “From the
city to the countryside, tiring long train rides and difficult living
conditions, in the end, I feel it is worth all the efforts.  It gives me
more courage to go further when I heard the trainees telling me that this
was the first time in their lives someone told them how to protect their
rights and they would love to tell everyone around them about it.”


      A week after the completion of the training, the volunteers gathered
together again in GUB on September 6, 2005 to discuss the lessons learned
from the training program and make follow-up plans.  Everybody agreed that
it was a great start for providing volunteer service to the migrant workers
and it had been a wonderful learning experience and opportunity for growth
of everybody involved.  Many volunteers from the Social Work Department
said that the experience restored their interest in their areas of studying
and they were more confident than ever in the path they have chosen. Ms. Ge
Li who was present at the meeting expressed her heart-felt thanks to
everybody for his or her efforts. After working with volunteers and migrant
workers for a couple of weeks in China, from NYC to China countryside,
having spent all her personal vocation time in the year for the project
without any pay, she said all of those were proved worthwhile when she saw
the process and the result. She also encouraged the volunteers to continue
such volunteer work even the program was completed.  She shared with the
volunteers the next plan that she and Ms. Jiang was contemplating – to
promote this type of training program in other universities so more college
students like them would join the volunteer team and more migrant workers
or future migrant workers would be assisted.

      A project summary meeting was held at GUB on October 10, 2005.
Attendees included the faculty from GUB, student volunteers, profes
sors of social work department from other universities, social workers from
social service agencies in Guangzhou, reporters from the local newspapers
and officials in charge of the labor issues at Guangdong Provincial
Government and Guangzhou Municipal Government.  Participants of the project
including faculty, student volunteers and support staff read their program
journals and notes at the meeting, shared their experience and discussed
lessons learned.  The attendees exchanged their views on how this training
program could be further improved and the feasibility to conduct similar
training programs for the migrant workers in the nearby suburban factories
on weekends.  The attendees also discussed the possibility to promote the
training program in other cities during student's winter break.


            In November of 2005, some students who participated in our
project in the summer voluntarily went to ShaoQing, city nearby Guangzhou,
on a weekend to give personal hygiene educations to migrant workers in the
villages around the city.  After learning of their trip, Ms. Li and other
friends interested in social work held a fund raising party in the New York
City to help the migrant workers' families. The Consulate General of the
People’s Republic of China in NYC sent out one of consuls Mr. Qiao,
FengHe, and gave a high commend to the project, also encouraged us to
continue the project. Total amount raised at the party was sent back to
China and was directly distributed to the needy families.


      Although the project was quite a success, there are still areas to
improve and refine .  Firstly, since that was the first time for both
parties to conduct such an international project, it took a long time for
both sides to arrange the logistics and form detailed action plans.  Due to
the geographic distance and time difference, many times communications was
not carried out on time and on schedule.  As a result, certain interested
personnel on the U.S. could not participate in the project due to the
conflict of the schedules.  Secondly, the media coverage was not as
extensive as we hoped.  The project was reported in certain newspapers and
TV programs, such as YongZhou local TV channel, HuNan TV, CCTV and HK
Phoenix, but there was no follow-up in-depth reporting and when the media
interviewed us, we were not well prepared, as a result, the impact on the
society was limited.  Thirdly, we were not as aware as we should be of the
sensitivity of such a subject as rights of migrant workers in China.  One
of the local government we had contacted for months rejected our proposal
to work on the project due to the sensitivity of the topics. We treated the
project as school-organized field trips and did not engage the government
support from the beginning. Because of such lack of communication, the
Public Security Bureau of Guangzhou City came to investigate the project.
Although they gave their blessings very soon, the project was on hold for
two weeks.  Fourth, the whole program could be organized better.
Volunteers did not get enough training on conducting surveys after the
completion of the training, therefore, the survey was not conducted
appropriately.  Due to the fact that all participants of the project were
volunteers, many of them had full work schedule, it took many of them quite
a lengthy time to finish their project reports.  As a result, this Report
has not been submitted until now.


     On behalf of all volunteers and participants in the "Pre-Employment
Training for Migrant Workers" project, we would like to extend our most
sincere thanks to the US-China Legal Cooperation Fund.  Without your
support, the wonderful project would never have happened. After the
wonderful project, a couple of schools in China were so impressed by what
we have done and expressed their willingness to participate the project in
the summer of 2006. We look forward to your continuous support and our next
opportunity for cooperation.

Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2005-09-01 (All day)