Living on the estuary of the Yangtze River, Shanghai children enjoy a vibrant learning environment and a cosmopolitan lifestyle.
At the other end of the river upstream, 2,000 kim away, in Qinghai Province children cherish opportunities to study while earnestly seeking a window to the outside world and its knowledge.
Recently, 45 Shanghai children got a chance to meet their peers on the land-locked and poverty-stricken plateau, during a five-day trip organized by the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation and Unilever (China) Ltd.
During the trip based on the theme of "Drinking From The Same Yangtze, Loving Our Mother River," Shanghai kids stayed with local families and learned a lot about Qinghai as they planted trees along a Yangtze tributary and visited water conservancy project sites along the river.
"With their own eyes and ears, Shanghai children can understand the nation better, especially the economically backward regions," said Zeng Xiwen, Unilever external relations director.
A visit to the Riyue County Hope Project Primary School, which is tucked away in the mountains and is an hour's drive from the province's capital, Xining City, may have made a lasting impression on the visiting students.
The 45 Shanghai students met their 260 young peers at the Hope Project primary school campus and presented them with a computer. The usually voluble Shanghai kids were quiet when they saw the uneven earthen playground, peeling walls, parched blackboards and spartan teaching facilities the first time.
Despite such conditions, studying at the school is a luxury for most of the children who attend.
The school was established with a donation of 20,000 yuan (US$2,410) from Unilever and another 10,000 yuan from the county government. The money was used to set up campus facilities and provide fee waivers to needy children.
The school principal, Zhou Jianwei, said schools, especially in poverty-stricken areas, are more than just centers of learning.
"They are a symbol that advocates the importance of education among local folks," Zhou said.
There are 11 teachers, including the principal, and all are primary or secondary school graduates.
"My dream is to become a teacher after I finish my studies, because I'd like to instill knowledge in more children in our valley," Liu Yuan, a 14-year-old female student at the school, told her Shanghai guests.
Liu's vision represents her earnest desire to study even though many children still lack such opportunities.
Qinghai provincial statistics reveal that even now more than 30 percent of school-age children drop out of classes, especially in remote mountainous areas, because many parents prefer them to be at home, herding cattle, growing crops or even taking care of younger siblings.
Fourteen-year-old Xu Weiyi of Shanghai said she was deeply touched by Suolangpeiqun's earnest desire to acquire an education. Everyday, the 12-year-old Tibetan boy walks 10 km in the heat and cold over hills to reach his school.
Bordering Tibet, Qinghai has a large Tibetan population.
"I'm proud that I'm the first person in my family that can speak Mandarin and read Chinese characters all because of the Hope Project school," Suolangpeiqun said.
No doubt it was a fruitful trip for the Shanghai kids. But visits like these also help plateau children to better understand what is happening in the outside world and build friendships, said Nimazuoma, an executive of the Qinghai Province Hope Project Office.