The 2014 FAWCO Youth Cultural Volunteers Program took place in Shanghai July 18-27, 2014. Many thanks to the AWC Shanghai for their generosity and willingness to set up this year's program!
Fourteen teens from 8 different countries travelled to Shanghai in July, where they were hosted by the AWC Shanghai. (The list of Shanghai participants is here.) The teens were treated to a mix of cultural activities and volunteering opportunities. They visited Shining Star Orphanage for Blind Children, where Chinese orphans learn English to improve their chances of being adopted into English-speaking homes; the Renewal Center for Homeless Migrants in Shanghai, where volunteers assist homeless people coming in off the streets for a shower, a change of clothes, and something to eat; the YouDao Center for Migrant Children, where the Cultural Volunteers spent time with migrant children; and Heart to Heart Shanghai, a non-profit community outreach organization that supports children undergoing heart surgery. The cultural outings included a tour of the city, sightseeing in the Yuyuan Garden and Confucian Temple, shopping in Shanghai's markets, tours of the Qibao ancient town, and a Shanghai Acrobatic Show… and lots of fun.
The Cultural Volunteers all submitted individual written contributions reflecting on their unique experiences. You can read all 14 essays on their reflections here. A few selected excerpts:
". . . despite all seemingly insurmountable cultural and socio-economic differences, people all over the world are pretty similar. . . The trip and experience changed my worldview hugely. I’m eternally grateful."
"I got to help those in need first hand, getting to see both the direct benefits of our work and the wide smiles of the children we were helping, one of the most satisfying experiences I've had to date."
As a team, the teens created a video about life lessons they learned as FAWCO Youth Cultural Volunteers.