When I was a young girl, I watched National Geographic's China's Lost Girls, a documentary that followed a group of families on their journey to China to adopt orphaned girls abandoned amidst the country's complex one-child policy, and since then, I knew I wanted to do volunteer work in China. I chose Volunteering Solutions and their Beijing Orphanage Project because it was one of the few programs that offered the opportunity to work with infants, toddlers and children with special-needs at an orphanage. My experience with Volunteer Solutions, from start to finish, was incredibly gratifying and humbling, and I felt very supported while I was abroad. The other volunteer and I bonded closely with the kids and the other caregivers in a short time, and even now, we still received weekly updates and photos about all the children.
What made my time in Beijing so unique was the opportunity to experience life as a local during those few weeks. We learned to familiarize ourselves with the city’s transit system quite quickly, as well as learn basic Mandarin on the go to bridge language barriers. We commuted a total of 3.5 hours each day on 4 subways and 2 buses to get to and from the orphanage. The children and the caregivers welcomed me and the other volunteer with open arms, and it really felt like I was part of their family. The days were definitely exhausting, but it was an incredible opportunity to see the city in a different light than just as a tourist.
I'm already making plans to return to the orphanage to help out more next year! Thank you VolSol for all your support! I recommend doing volunteer work at some point in your life, it really does teach you so much!"