Fifty-nine volunteer graduates from 22 Chinese colleges and universities set out on Sunday for 29 rural primary schools on one-year teaching mission.
"It is the first time we organize a volunteer service program, and it is out of my expectation that so many young people applied to take part," said Tu Meng, secretary-general of the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF).
Most of the volunteers are graduates of prestigious universities like Peking University, Beijing Normal University and Renmin University.
The 29 primary schools, located in northeastern Heilongjiang, and southwestern Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, are built with the financing from the Project Hope scheme, launched 18 years ago to pool donations to help impoverished rural school children to complete primary school education.
Two of the volunteers themselves are also beneficiaries of the Project Hope.
The volunteers had a 10-day training on how to be a primary school teacher and how to carry out extra-curricular activities.
"I believe the young people will find their true value in the volunteer service," said Tu, who wished the program would initiate a new mode for social organizations to carry out charity work.
A total of 13,285 Project Hope schools have been built with financing from the scheme in the country's far-flung and mountainous regions, according to Gu Xiaojin, Party secretary with the CYDF.
Since its inauguration, Project Hope has received more than 3.5 billion yuan (about US$460 million) in donation from domestic and overseas sources including individuals, government organizations and major transnational corporations.
(Xinhua News Agency August 26, 2007)