Stories of Hope
Volunteer Story: Gaea
I volunteered for around 2 months at the New Hope Foundation in Beijing, and although it was an experience I will treasure forever, it is so hard for me to put into words everything I learned while I was there. My main duties as a volunteer revolved around organising and running the preschool, and occasionally helping out in making scrapbooks for the children. I had worked with kids before, but it was incomparable to this. Every single interaction I had with the children there gave me an immense feeling of joy that I hope they felt too. Each time they got excited about playing with play dough or successfully putting a puzzle piece together or even just recognising me in the hallway, I couldn’t help but feel pure joy. As dramatic as that may sound, it is true. It was only towards the end of my time there when I realised how meaningful my interactions with the children were, especially considering their circumstances and their feelings concerning attachment and abandonment.
Running the preschool had its own set of challenges. Maintaining a high level of energy and enthusiasm can be difficult sometimes, but seeing the children grow and learn more day by day made every sacrifice worth it. My priority was always to make sure each child was getting the most out of their preschool time, whether that was an improvement in a motor skills, processing their emotions, or just having pure childlike fun. Rebecca (the Deputy Director) guided other volunteers and me on the weekly “theme” for preschool, giving us some inspiration with various activities and crafts, which made it easier to plan out lessons. In addition to that, we would write a small report on the children’s progress every month so that sponsors could understand more about them. Doing this every month served two purposes: one being that it provided a record of their development, and two, it served as an opportunity for me to take the time to reflect on what the kids taught me. Braden taught me that just being there for someone is enough. Herakles taught me the importance of having an active imagination. Abbey taught me how important it is to have fun and stay happy.
Those are just a few of the things I learned from the children, and I hope I can take them with me in the future.