Volunteering at Migrant Children’s Foundation
Jesuit education is all about giving back, and The Beijing Center is no exception. A few weeks ago, a few of my classmates and I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at a school run by Migrant Children’s Foundation, in a less touristy neighborhood in Beijing.
When we arrived, we were immediately surrounded by children from the ages of six until twelve. They came to us with smiles and curiosity, a few brave ones speaking English to us and being responded to in Chinese by the ones in our group that can understand and speak the language well. A couple students in our group started playing a game with the children, and it was very funny to watch how the kids won every time.
After spending some time in the school yard, we separated into two groups; four students were going to teach two classes and the rest of us were going to re-decorate and paint a classroom. Seeing as all of us were there to help, we jumped right into work. We got a lot of paintbrushes and colors and started drawing on the classroom: books, animals, flowers… we let our creativity splatter on the walls. We worked great together as a team, the more creative of us drawing and the more meticulous of us coloring. Spending a Saturday morning making a classroom more beautiful for the students was wonderful.
I went to visit the classrooms by classmates were teaching and they were captivating the students. They had divided into pairs and were teaching the kids about emotion. Using both Chinese and English to talk to the students, they connected with them and it was very inspiring to see the little kids writing notes on their notebooks and laughing at my friends’ facial expressions while explaining different emotions. They not only taught the children and had a great time while doing it, like they told me afterward, but gave the Chinese students English names if they didn’t have one yet.
It was very interesting to see another side of Beijing I wouldn’t have thought I would see when studying abroad, and it was gratifying to give back to a community that is teaching, showing and giving us so much.