As noted by many experts in the field, the benefits brought about by China’s rapid economic growth have been coupled with many social challenges. The rapidly changing social landscape of both China and the world as a whole leaves many, especially the young, questioning their identity, their future, and their place in society. Youth in particular seem to be searching for standards by which to govern their lives and decisions. The Badi Foundation does not view youth as powerless victims of social forces around them, or as a “crisis” population to be feared. Now, as throughout history, when they are appropriately guided, youth can be powerful resources for social advancement. In recognition of these challenges and this potential, in 2005 the Badi Foundation and its collaborating community-based organizations began implementing the Moral Empowerment through Language Program (“METL”).
Responding to the Potential of Junior Youth
The METL seeks to release the potential of youth between the ages of 12 and 15 to contribute to the social and economic development of their communities. Drawing on development experience worldwide, the foundation recognized that youth of this age often express a great degree of enthusiasm and eagerness to contribute to the development of their communities. These “junior youth” have not yet reached adulthood, but they are also no longer children. They are often starting to open up to profound discussions about the society around them and the problems of poverty, injustice and environmental pollution that plague many areas of the world. In response to the potential of junior youth, the Badi Foundation adopted the METL, which seeks to guide this special age group to acquire moral concepts, habits and attitudes that will enable them to be of greater service to their communities.
Enhancing Powers of Perception and Expression
The METL curriculum, taught in English so as to enhance the English language capability of students, seeks to assist junior youth to enhance their powers of expression, their understanding of the challenges of their communities, and their ability to consult and collaborate with others in their communities to contribute to sustainable community development. Participants in the program gain valuable skills that allow them to observe their local communities, identify local needs and design and implement service projects and activities that contribute to the social and economic development of their communities. In addition, the curriculum has as a focus enhancing participants’ understanding and application of moral principles, such as showing kindness towards others, being of service to one’s community, truthfulness, trustworthiness, generosity and the importance of building unity and harmony among one’s family, friends and neighbors. The emphasis on moral principles aims to inspire youth to be of service to others and to dedicate time and energy to the service of their communities.
The program is primarily implemented in collaboration with schools, either during class time or as an extra-curricular activity. Implementing organizations seek input, advice and collaboration from teachers, school officials, and relevant government departments such as local education bureaus. Some implementing organizations have also been able to work with high school students or university students who mentor and work with junior youth on a volunteer basis. This approach has proved very effective in both contributing to the personal development of the older youth and empowering junior youth themselves. Although the program is still in its relatively early stages, the impact on the youth is already being demonstrated through an enhanced sense of purpose and direction as well as through service activities the youth are designing and carrying out in their communities.
The Badi Foundation works closely with community-based organizations to implement the Moral Empowerment through Language Program in collaboration with schools and local communities throughout Gansu, Guangdong, Hebei, Ningxia, Shanxi, Yunnan, Shandong, Guangzhou and Anhui Provinces. The Badi Foundation is currently collaborating with 17 community-based organizations implementing the Moral Empowerment through Language Program, which have trained more than 19,000 junior youth since the program’s inception. The foundation is also implementing the program in partnership with a number of schools in Macau and at the School of the Nations.