Letters link college students and left-behind children
October 13,2017   By:China Daily

Oct. 13, 2017 -- In an era when people rarely write letters, a group of college students in Zhejiang province have built close links with left-behind children in a remote middle school by writing letters to each other.

The letter writing is part of the "dolphin initiative" launched in 2016 by Xu Jing, a psychology teacher with Zhejiang University of Water Resources and Electric Power in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province.

Xu, who is also a psychology mentor with Dishui (Water Drop) Charity, launched the program after learning of the negative effects the lack of parental guidance have had on the left-behind children in a middle school in Guanling Buyi and Miao autonomous prefecture in Southwest China's Guizhou province.

After talking with junior students in Guansuo Middle School, Xu discovered that they lacked care and emotional connections because most of the students' parents had left home to work outside the prefecture.

"We thought of providing the children a channel to share their troubles and learn more about the outside world," Xu told thepaper.cn.

At first, she tried to address the problem by sending psychology instructors to help the children, which proved not so successful and inconsistent.

Then, Xu came up with the idea of letting college students communicate with the left-behind children, because they had just gone through the age of the middle school students and had a lot in common with them, she said.

Under the call of the Mental Health Association of the university, 40 freshmen were selected in November 2016 to be paired with the left-behind children in Guansuo Middle School, which is nearly 2,000 kilometers away. They were nicknamed "dolphin brothers" and "dolphin sisters".

The "dolphin brothers and sisters" are required to communicate with the left-behind students by writing a letter to each other every month for three years.

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