Following on from last Summer's first successful volunteering collaboration, Educating Girls of Rural China (EGRC) have invited Stepping Stones volunteers to teach English in rural Gansu again during the Spring Festival. Go here for more information about this unique volunteering opportunity.
To see what your experience could be like, read this article by Hajer, who traveled to Gansu last summer with Stepping Stones and EGRC.
“When thinking about going to China whether as students, professionals or volunteers, foreigners mostly prefer to stay in one of the country's biggest cities. Skyscrapers, immense shopping malls, fancy restaurants, bars, and night life, are among the many things foreign people like about Shanghai, one of China's most popular destinations. But I chose my journey away from all the crowds and noise, in the countryside of Laoximen, a small county few hours away from Lanzhou the capital city of Gansu province, northwest China.
After a three-hour flight from Shanghai to Lanzhou, I was warmly and enthusiastically received at the airport. Everything was taken care of since the moment of my arrival. Three friendly and outgoing young ladies, with whom I have now become friends, arranged my meal, my bus trip, accommodation and even other things like a computer and Internet access. Two of them even took the bus with me all the way from the city to Laoximen just to make sure that everything went smoothly.
Once in Laoximen I could not help but to fall in love! I fell in love with everything and everyone I got to meet there. My students were ten bright, smart, beautiful and amiable young college girls from Gansu. Our host family was a sweet couple in their fifties, whom we called Ayi and Shushu. They were so caring and considerate; I never felt like an outsider during my stay with them, but a very welcomed guest and part of the family. The small village with only few houses scattered here and there was like a little piece of heaven.
Our house was on the top of a small hill. I had my own private room and every morning when I woke up and walked out of my room's door all I could see was the bright blue sky, the rising sun shedding its golden rays on the fields, and breathtaking landscape all around.
Every day after breakfast I sat together in a circle with the girls in the big living room and practiced mainly speaking and listening for about 3 to 4 hours. Later we had our lunch break and took a nap. In the afternoon we would spend more time together and further practice oral English. After the first two days the girls and I became close friends. The classes were not too formal, and I gathered different types of materials and activities that would help them with their speaking and understanding of the English language. On many occasions I used songs, games, and even a movie. They were quite cooperative and tried to help each other all the time. We got to share not only academic information, but also real life experiences, from which I learned how brave and hard-working those girls are.
We also went out several times to visit the fields and mountains nearby; it was such an amazing experience to get a real taste of everyday life of Chinese people in the countryside. I had already volunteered in rural China twice before, and always choose to go back thanks to the warmth and generosity of Chinese people from the countryside, who made me feel at home and safe all the time. This will not be the last time for me. I am looking forward to work with Stepping Stones and Educating Girls of Rural China (EGRC) again soon!”
Hajer, 30, English Teacher
Interested volunteers for this opening should contact Morgan Banaszek, email@example.com with their enquiry. We hope that you will consider spending the Spring Festival in Gansu!