Participating in meaningful volunteer activities is a long-standing initiative of Soochow University High School Sino-Canada Program. In addition to studying Canadian courses, volunteer and charity enrich the students’ university applications. These experiences broaden the students’ vision and appreciation for the diverse world cultures around them, while living a rich life experience.
During winter vacation 2019, Yang Qizheng, Zhao Yiyang, Wang Jiaqi, Pan Hanyu and Chen Jing from the 10th grade participated in the 7-day volunteer activity in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Caring for children in special schools
On the first day, we visited a special school. As in China, children in special schools may have physical disabilities or mental challenges. Communicating and interacting with them requires more patience, focus and energy. Following the guidance of the school teachers, we actively created a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Starting with friendly greetings and handshakes, to everyone interacting together we were happy to see an autistic child come forward to initiate an embrace and to interact with us.
After the "warm-up" of the first day, we gave a presentation about Chinese culture on our own the second day. We selected the theme of the "Paper Folding". For the children, it is much more attractive to be able to make all kinds of beautiful paper folding creations than to just sit; they were able to concentrate on our lecture for a longer time. We taught children new words by using more specific images and doing paper folding with them. The “Paper Folding” class used English throughout the whole process, and we enjoyed playing the role of foreign teachers like our teachers in the Sino-Canada Program!
The time went quickly. In addition to the daily teaching work, “Elephant Camp” gave us the opportunity to experience Thai culture. Elephants are the national treasure of Thailand. Over-hunting of these noble animals has greatly reduced the number of elephants and, many more elephants now suffer from disabling injuries. In the "elephant camp", we learned the basic common sense of protecting elephants. Looking back now, it is amazing to think we assisted to bathe and feed these massive, gentle animals! Although the lake is not the clearest, mud protection can make elephants feel more comfortable on hot summer days.
Experience of Thailand food and culture
Thailand, a tropical coastal country in Southeast Asia, enjoys a reputation around the world for its abundance of high quality rice. The superior geographical location and climate in the country also provide an abundance of green vegetables, tropical fruits and rice supply and variety of fish resources. The people of Thailand enjoy a healthy diet of seafood, fruits and vegetables.
On the last day, the meals were very special. Rather than having food prepared by the hotel, students took cooking classes to learning to prepare food. Thai staple food is rice, and the non-staple food is mostly fish, shrimp and vegetables. The local meals consist of a bowl of rice, served with one or two curry dishes, fish, soup and salad. The students personally prepared the curry dishes, but as for the taste, hmmm... we can only say that cooking also requires patience, practice and talent!
In just seven days, what we have gained here was not only a certificate, but also a deeper understanding of Chiang Mai, Thailand. The place we call home is just a part of this wonderful world. We are the next generation of citizens of this world. We need to reach out and experience more. As students at the Sino-Canada Program, we have the opportunity to see the beautiful scenery and experience the culture of Canada. Through various international volunteer activities, we can experience different landscapes, climates and cultures in countries all over the world.
We all know that if we want to have a broader understanding of our global world, personal experience and communication with the people of different countries and cultures is the best way. We have a good life, but there are still many people at home and around the world that need our help.
We learned to think differently，to be patient, to understand and listen to the voices of others. Many lessons we gained through this incredible volunteer activity!