CHANGSHA, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Jiang Birou, 19, still remembers the excitement she had experienced when attending her first tea ceremony class as a sixth-grade student.
"That was my first extra-curricular class," Jiang said, adding that tea ceremony had brightened her childhood.
Located in the midst of mountains at a high altitude, Jiang's hometown in Weishan Township, central China's Hunan Province, has favorable conditions for tea plantation but is marred with less arable land and inconvenient transportation. As a result, a large number of youths migrate to cities for better job opportunities, leaving behind their children and parents.
Jiang was once such a left-behind child. "When I was a little girl, I used to help my grandparents pick tea leaves, and I didn't have much communication with my parents."
The change came in 2012 when Jiang's school organized a slew of extra-curricular activities and Jiang was the first to sign up for the tea ceremony class.
"In Weishan, almost every household grows tea, but we know little about the traditional tea culture," Jiang said. "Through the tea class, however, I learned a lot."
"In retrospect, I feel the tea art classes helped me calm my mind, manage my emotions and I began to communicate more with my parents because of the interesting classes," she said.
Jiang is now a freshman at Wuhan Conservatory of Music. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the commencement of her new semester got delayed, and she stayed in Weishan for a protracted Spring Festival holiday. During this time, she often visited her alma mater.
Jiang said the sight of primary school girls learning tea art in a clean and bright classroom, makes her proud. "I hope they can enjoy the tea ceremony, as it will bring more harvests than they could imagine."
Eleven-year-old Gao Yingxin has been attending tea art classes for a year. Once a shy and reserved girl, she can now open her heart and make many good friends.
"The gestures and movements we learn in the class are very interesting, so is the costume we wear," Gao said.
A blissful smile blooms over Gao's face at the mention of the tea ceremony. She said tea-related activities such as plucking leaves and discussing tea-making, enriched her extra-curricular life. When talking to her father who works in India by phone, she would share stories about her tea art classes.
Gao is among the 27 students currently taking the tea art class in the school, and about 85 percent of her classmates are left-behind children.
According to Principal Yang Jinpeng, the school has offered tea art classes to students in grades three to six since 2012, with more than 30 students signing up each year.
"Many children become more optimistic and confident after joining the tea art classes," Yang said. "We hope that through tea art and other extra-curricular classes, children can forge companionship with their classmates and teachers and learn something meaningful." Enditem