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It’s Very Nice to Be Here
With the coming of spring, the sky of Beijing is painted in a bright blue color, the grey branches, teased by pink and white flowers, are vividly alive, even the air is sincere and cozy, When we entered into Dongba center. In the refreshing breeze, we watched volunteers starting the after-class activities with students on the first day of the new semester. Everything was just so vigorous, colorful as spring.
We waited for a while at Dongba center before we saw YU Li. YU Li is a Program Officer of Dongba center of VIBRANT COMMUNITIES. She officially joined us in the spring of 2013 and is mainly in charge of the ECD Program at Dongba center. 
YU Li came from Binzhou, Shandong in 2006. With her youthfully passionate heart, she came to the biggest city in China. At the beginning, she worked as an accountant and that is how she met her husband. Then she got married and had her baby. In 2011, when her child Mengmeng went to kindergarten, she and Mengmeng, by all kinds of coincidences, joined the parent-child project at the VIBRANT COMMUNITIES.

During that time, YU Li read a lot and learnt a lot. She said, in the past, she never thought that education is the parents' responsibility. To give her child had the best education, the child willl be sent to the best school. Good schools have high tuition, which means, education is to send the child to the most expensive school. However, at VIBRANT COMMUNITIES, YU Li gradually found that her own emotions would impact on her child’s. There was a period when she suffered huge economic pressure. She only had 20Yuan in her pocket for one week. YU Li was afraid of bringing her child to the farmers' market. But her child seemed to understand something and said to her mother, ‘Mom, I do not want to play that rocking cradle.” The rocking cradle was the small vehicle with cartoon characters appearance in front of stores, when you insert one Yuan in it, it will shake and sing. This time, Mengmeng did beg to play the rocking cradle for fun. In fact, it is not like we think that children know nothing, they always are aware of something more than we would. In terms of children, parents are their best teachers and the family is providing irreplaceable education. YU Li smiled and said that she had known nothing and now understood that she is bearing the important responsibility to participate in her child’s experience of growing up. 

Having gained rich experience from the ECD Program, YU Li joined VIBRANT COMMUNITIES in the spring of 2012 and became a volunteer of the ECD. She receives as well as gives here. Like other volunteers, she helps others with what she learned. What makes her different is that YU Li became an intern in the autumn of 2012 and officially joined here in the spring of 2013 as a project officer of the ECD program and before that she never thought that would happen. You would never see her unoccupied and never see her take a break even for one moment. As a migrant, YU Li has more in common with other mothers, which takes Dongba Center closer to the community. Having the community members, who know the community and migrant children the best serve that community makes Dongba center the hub of the Dongba community.

The story of YU Li was only an example for the stories of many mothers at Dongba center.

Many mothers come to Dongba center. Lot of them become volunteers and interns of the ECD, helping YU Li complete her work. As for mothers, starting from giving birth, they will experience a life separated from the society for around four years. After four years, when their children go to kindergarten, they need to find a job, but they always find themselves being detached from society. But the experience and work in the ECD lets the mothers gradually find a working mode and better understand children's education. Some mothers will stay in the ECD Program, but more and more will strat to consider becoming a kindergarten teacher instead of an unskilled teacher. 

YU Li is one of the large number of migrants. She is concerned with her child’s schooling and worried whether her hometown’s development will make education there as good as in Beijing. She sometimes thinks that if she goes back, she would make better money. But she persistently told us that she is not going to leave Beijing. The salary from VIBRANT COMMUNITIES is not high but her child’s tuition is. The money that comes in always gets used up very quickly. But YU Li still works at Dongba Center. She says the atmosphere is great and people are inclusive and supportive. Every day is a very happy day. Here, she has learned a lot and feels like she has grown up. Apart from ideas, many other things keep YU Li staying in Beijing, in Dongba. 

“I am very happy to be here.” YU Li is always happy to say that. 

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