Volunteers are on the frontline of a new world
Updated: 2012-12-05 09:34
By He Na and Peng Yining (China Daily)
Last year, Wang Bingxi, a law student at Jilin University, spent six weeks teaching Chinese in Kiev in Ukraine. She worked for AIESEC, or the Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, one of the world's largest student-run organizations.
A Chinese volunteer performs surgery on a patient in Liberia. [Photo/Provided to China Daily]
Wang found that local people had little idea of China's growing wealth and power. "To my surprise, I found that the local people's impressions of China were rooted in the 1960s or 70s," she said.
"In their minds, China is still a poor country with food shortages, and there are no high-rise buildings in the cities. Instead, they believed that everybody lives in bungalows," she said
"They were really surprised when they heard my comments about modern China. Many people expressed interest and several said they'd like to visit China if they get the opportunity. Sometimes I felt like a cultural ambassador to Ukraine, but the volunteer work was really meaningful," Wang said.
The ever-increasing number of Chinese volunteers serving overseas has drawn the attention of several international organizations, said Guo.
"A number of international voluntary organizations have contacted us to request cooperation. Both the United Nations Volunteers and Voluntary Service Overseas from the UK have asked that we recruit volunteers for them, to join their programs in Africa," he added.
In addition to government-sponsored volunteer programs, an increasing number of NGOs and grassroots organizations are also providing volunteers for overseas service.
The number of AIESEC volunteers recruited in China and working overseas has increased sharply in recent years, said Wang Lu, vice-president of outgoing exchange at the Global Community Development Program of AIESEC's Chinese operations.
The number of volunteers dispatched overseas has increased annually by 200 to 300 since 2002, according to Wang. So far this year, AIESEC has dispatched 2,000 volunteers to 50 countries. They work in education, poverty relief and programs related to human rights protection.