I like being with older people and children

I am an international student from China. I study Waste Water Treatment, a specialist area of Environmental Engineering, at UNSW. I have been in Sydney for 18 months, 12 of those as a volunteer with SECC.

When I came to Sydney I wanted to experience something new, something very different.

I was looking for a volunteer job in aged care on SEEK.com and found two roles with South Eastern Community Connect. I like the feeling of being with older people and children. I am my most patient and calm with them. I already volunteer in a nursing home where I visit a lady who only speaks Chinese.

I never heard of a playgroup in China

Sue showed me the roles she had available, and one of them was playgroup. I have never heard of a playgroup in China but I love children, so I chose that.

I am involved with all tasks at playgroup. I help set up, I pack up at the end, I keep an eye on children when their parents are chatting, I help prepare and serve morning tea, I help with craft, and at free play I play with children . I also like chatting with parents, and sometimes I get to translate.

Many international students try to experience new things and learn about the new culture, but they often fail because they end up working in Chinese restaurants or on campus. I think they would benefit from volunteering, too.

I see the people at SECC as my friends

In China volunteering exists mostly around disasters, like a major earthquake that happened ten years ago in my hometown. People don’t value volunteering the way they do here.

At SECC I am treated like an employee. The only difference is that I don’t get paid, but I am still an important part of the program.

In China young people have no motivation to do unpaid work. But here, wherever I go, I am still always the youngest volunteer. Seeing a young man from China volunteering is new to many but I think that can be changed.

My friends envy me for the role I have, and there would be many who would like the opportunity to volunteer like this. So hopefully I’ll see someone younger than me at the next volunteering event.

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