The Young Bakers
through the eyes of their social educator
Time has passed in a blink of an eye, Chinese New Year is already upon us. Our Young Bakers in training of this year have already completed half of their curriculum and will soon embark on their journey homewards to celebrate New Year with their family and relatives who they have missed for one semester.
Even though I am unable to participate in their baking classes, I feel immensely gratified being their life coach every time I see one of our students sharing a picture of their personally made French baguettes and delicate pastries with their friends on Wechat and seeing a smile on their face.
Compared to some months ago, when they had just started the program, they now have a gleam of self confidence in their eyes that was not there before. Those beginning months their gaze reflected an interest in the big city and the businesses here, as well as an uncertain future. This is why, at a time when a lot of their peers are still contemplating which university to attend, our young students have no other way than to confront their biggest challenge in front of them: “how will I be able to make a better living?”. Because of their impoverished background and lack of education they are not like their peers who live without a care in the world under their parents wings. Some of our students come from villages or mountain regions and this is the first time for them to see the outside world. Some were forced to interrupt their studies and prematurely leave their homes to find work in a factory and earn money, whilst others received government or NGO funding. However, as they were growing up they gradually came to realize that, as all young people, they too must overcome their hardships, mature, carry their own responsibilities and learn to take care of themselves. Reality told them that they needed to master a skill as soon as possible, only then could they become self-reliant, lessen the burden for their family and someday even be able to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of their whole family.
Now, after going through half a year of arduous study in the classroom and at the baking center, the students will be able to use the utmost of their skills during their internships in hotels baking bread and pastries. Even though sometimes the students feel exhausted waking up early every morning, disappointed not being able to master a new recipe, or pressured by the stern direction of the hotel chefs, they all think about improving step by step. In a not so distant future this will become their solid foundation and by then a smile will again appear on the faces of our Young bakers.
Indeed, compared to when they just arrived to Shanghai, our students not only have more skills in their hands and professional knowledge in their heads, they also have a smile of self-confidence on their face. I hope that in the coming semester they will be able to learn new knowledge and skills, adapt to new situations and learn even more side by side with their excellent fellow students, teachers and great chefs in the industry. I also hope they will obtain the willpower and determination to overcome difficulties ahead as well as finding a balance between work and life.
In short, I hope that every student at Shanghai Young Bakers in this new semester will be able to mature and improve himself even more!
Zhu Yunyun, Social Educator
Translation by Lander De Pauw, SYB Volunteer