|(News) Thursday, 10 May 2007, 04:00 PST|
|by BERNICE TRICK Citizen staff|
Seventeen years after graduating from Kelly Road secondary, a former Prince George student has captured a rare opportunity to research problems facing a large population of street kids in China.
Karin Borzel, 35, has received a Canada-China scholar exchange scholarship to conduct studies and research at the China Youth University of Political Science.
Borzel, who’s a PhD student in child and youth care at the University of Victoria, left Tuesday for Beijing, where she’ll be based for more than two years to do research and write her PhD dissertation.
It will be familiar territory for Borzel, who was employed for eight years in the Asian region, but this time she’ll spend most of her time in research and writing rather than on the job.
With a senior scholar status, she’ll be able to freely utilize the university to look at issues and challenges around thousands of street children — a subject near and dear to her heart.
"Officially, it’s said the numbers of street kids in China range from 150,000 to 4 million, but we know it’s in the millions. There are 150,000 in Canada alone," she said.
A lot of her research will be done on the streets where she’ll get to know the people and the street children before she begins writing her dissertation the following year.
She said the majority of street children are males. Many are children of migrant workers who’ve become lost in job shuffles, some have run away or been pushed out of their homes, others have been sold or stolen, and many are orphaned due to parent deaths form disasters like floods and drought.
"The vast majority of street kids in China pass through child protection centres where the focus is on detain-and-return home, but they are not long-term. More than 80 per cent of time is used looking for kids’ families."
Borzel’s past years in China have enabled her to speak Mandarin, integrate into the community and establish solid relationships with government officials, researchers and academics as they related to her research on health and wellness of street children in the country.
She has faith that conditions can be improved for homeless children in China.
"You have to be able to have hope. If you didn’t believe in positive potential, you would feel like you were drowning," said Karin, who’s breaking new ground in this type of research.
"Only one other person has done this type of research there, and they didn’t have the support of government officials," she said.
More important than the monetary value of her $10,000 scholarship "is the fact the Chinese government is agreeing to and supporting the research I wish to do," she said.
During her growing years in Prince George, Borzel, who returns home to visit parents Ken and Myrna as often as possible, was a candidate in both the Miss Teen Prince George and Miss Prince George pageants.
Although she didn’t capture top place in either, she remembers them as good learning experiences.