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Our Christmas Bursary, and Idea Worth Spreading

Picture:  Santa arrives in Wuxi, China circa 2008.
Chinese Word of the Day: 圣诞节
(Shng dn ji literally "holy" + "birth" + "festival") = Christmas

Origins of a Tradition

Christmas in China and a Bursary Offer
originally posted December 18, 2007

     Last night we put up our little fake tree and strung our lights.  I was flooded with memories of Christmases past;  classic Dickensian childhood Christmas with my mother mixing the Christmas pudding,  gifts from grandparents now long departed, Christmas with my own children,  Christmas lights,   midnight services, white Christmases and rainy Christmases, all coming to mind like a movie montage of fast dissolves. 

Picture: The emperor robe and mask wall hanging, wearing a Santa hat for the Christmas season.  Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China.

 Ah, the sweet pain of nostalgia. Then we settled back with some Harvey's Sherry for me, some Bailey's for Ruth,  and some shortbread cookies for both of us to contemplate the fast approach of our fourth Christmas together in China.  A comfortable contentment settled over us both.
     Ruth suggested some days ago that we have enough "stuff" and don't really need anything.  This year rather than exchange gifts we should do something different.  Between us we came up with the idea of offering a bursary to Jiangnan University students.  So we have each kicked in 2000 yuan and it's up for grabs.   

-the lead up to Christmas, 2007

Update to the Current Year and the Christmas Bursary 2010

So here we go again.  It's hard to believe but this will be the fourth year of our Christmas Bursary, and now our seventh Christmas in China.  Yes, it has taken our time to administer our Annual Christmas Bursary, but it has turned out to be very emotionally rewarding. Until we started doing this, I didn't see the truth in the old saying: It is better to give than to receive. 
     I'm not much of a believer in true altruism.  I don't really do this for my students, but for myself.  It's a very selfish program. Neither of us needs more "stuff" or material expression of our feelings for each other, and I can't think of many things I have done which have given me this kind of a kick.  The Christmas Bursary has brought us great joy and real thrills as we learned more about the living conditions of our students and could feel we were making a meaningful difference, however small, in at least a few lives.
       Our tiny amounts of money have gone to such diverse purposes as a bicycle for one student's father, a blood pressure monitor, a warm coat for a student's mother, and a pair of warm winter boots for another.  Small amounts of money, but a huge bang for our buck.
     I intend to say it early, and say it often:  Have a Merry Christmas Everybody.

Here Comes Santa
originally posted December 04,  2010

 Fourth Annual
Christmas Bursary

5,000 RMB Bursary* Offer

We know that many of the students here have families that are not wealthy,  and parents who are sacrificing to give their son or daughter a university education.

If you are a Jiangnan University student, and know of somebody who really could use some money right now, send an email to David@themaninChina.com with "Christmas bursary" in the subject line and tell us (in 200 words or less) why you, or someone you know, needs some help.  Let us know the amount you are requesting and what a little bit of money will do.  The smaller the amount requested, the more likely we will be able to grant the request.  (Please don't forget to put your name in both Chinese characters and pinyin and your student number in your email.)

Deadline for application -  Sunday,  December 19, 2010
Successful applicants will be notified December 25, 2010, Christmas Day
Sorry. The Deadline for Applications Has Passed. 
No More Applications Accepted.

*An English explanation is in order here.  A bursary is different from a scholarship.  The latter is awarded to the student with the highest marks,  the former to a student who has a demonstrated need or record of exceptional service, although that student's marks may be just average.

     Once again it is time to express our gratitude and thanks to China,  to this university,  and to the wonderful students here.  So,  please,  feel free to apply if you are a Jiangnan University student.  If there are a lot of applicants,  five thousand yuan won't go very far.  But last year we had very few applicants, and managed to grant every request.  You never know.  Applications will be kept confidential and successful applicants will not be publicly identified,  so don't worry about embarrassing yourself or your family.
     Also, in the past we've had contributions from the wealthier students and other teachers to add to this bursary.  So if you like the idea, but don't want to spend your own time administering it, feel free to contribute.  We'll announce new totals should the amount increase.

Also, check out my posts on Christmas in China.  Always and adventure.

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