Friendship and courage: Young Chinese volunteer shares stories of helping local children in Lebanon, African countries
Published: Oct 30, 2022 06:25 PM
Editor's Note:

Young Chinese people in the new era are confident, aspirational, and responsible. With a global vision, they stand at the forefront of the times ready to fully commit to a more global outlook. As a group with a strong sense of motivation, young Chinese people accept and quickly respond to the world's trending schools of thought. Some members of China's Generation Z have begun to practice the tenets of their "global citizen" identity and use their thought processes and actions to influence the society.

The Global Times has therefore launched a series of introductory stories to China's Gen Zers who are interested in different global topics, such as environmental protection, equality, and employment issues, and invites them to share their stories, sentiments, and ideas on social media platforms.

In this installment, we met two young Chinese YouTubers based in Africa and have been making videos to show life on the continent to the Chinese audience, as well as introducing China to African friends to promote understanding between China and Africa."Every time when I arrive at the school in Lebanon, children would run toward me with smiles and give me hugs, and after school, they would scramble to invite me to visit their homes. These scenes comfort my heart till today."

Danni teaches at the Lake Bunyonyi Secondary School in Uganda. Photo: Courtesy of Danni

Danni teaches at the Lake Bunyonyi Secondary School in Uganda. Photo: Courtesy of Danni

Jiang Danni from East China's Zhejiang Province recalled her experience of volunteering in an education project in schools in Lebanon and countries in Africa with the Global Times, noting that she is willing to return and spend time with her students as the job offers happiness and help to local children. 

The 24-year-old volunteer, who is known online as Danni, has recorded happy moments with her students on her phone and uploaded a series of video clips on China's popular video sharing platform Bilibili. Each of these videos has attracted the attention of thousands of Chinese netizens who are curious about her unique experiences as an international volunteer.

Unstoppable steps

After graduating from university in 2020, Danni chose to work in Africa for a year and then journeyed to seven countries including Tanzania and Kenya.

A primary school in Uganda put her travels on pause. The primary school is built on a hillside, and is characterized by its colorful and jovial students. The school's walls are painted orange, the roof is sky blue, while the children's uniforms are a bright green. Danni said that she had a peaceful time getting to know the children at the school.

She was assigned to teach children grades one to four. Danni set up diverse kinds of classes for her students, including Chinese language learning, cooking, and manual training.

Danni would cook traditional Chinese cuisines such as fried eggs with tomato and buns in class, and also taught children to speak Putonghua. "Their smiling faces gave me energy and I enjoyed spending beautiful moments them," she told the Global Times.

Danni also tried to care for the students during her volunteer experience. While staying at a preschool in Mafinga, Tanzania, with a total of 40 children below 5 years old, she was responsible for preparing lunch for them.

The preschool is so far from town and needed one to pass through a large eucalyptus forest and cornfields before taking a bus and commuting for more than half an hour to get to the school. To prepare a delicious lunch for Spring Festival celebrations, Danni raised over 1,000 yuan through social media platforms and went to the local town to purchase enough ingredients to make nearly 200 buns. She spent the rest of money buying study materials for the kids. 

The satisfied smiles on the children's faces while eating the buns moved Danni, creating cherished moments that encouraged her to continue to find meaning in volunteer works in different places. 

Develop as career

Danni with students in Lebanon. Photo: Photo: Courtesy of Danni

Danni with students in Lebanon. Photo: Courtesy of Danni

In 2022, Danni arrived in Lebanon and became a voluntary teacher at a local school through a non-governmental organization. This time she taught arts and crafts to her students, while her colleague Jacob from Germany was in charge of theater lessons.

At the school, Danni initiated beautiful friendships with children who would rush to give her a hug or small presents such as a candy every morning, and would invite her to their homes.

She included some interesting activities in her teaching such as paper cutting and the making of paper ice cream in class. Some of her students had strong hands-on and drawing capabilities and could complete the handicraft works rapidly, while some needed a bit help. The good thing is that they all worked hard and enjoyed the creative process.

Many Chinese netizens have posted messages in Danni's Bilibili account and encouraged her to upload more videos sharing her experiences as an international volunteer. Some of them admired Danni's courage and joyous time with her students.

Danni said that she has considering joining some international organizations such as the United Nations Children's Fund to further develop her aspiration to help others as a lifetime career and gain more skills of organizing events to benefit people and society. 

Young Chinese people have been maintaining enthusiasm and becoming volunteers in other countries to help those in difficulties while improve themselves.

The Chinese government also encourages international volunteer activities and some Chinese organizations have been organizing many more related events to provide such a platform for young people.

According to a survey report about international Chinese volunteers in 2021, Chinese volunteers have had a positive impact in the course of their work, including improving China's international image and brining real change to local residents.

Since 2020, Chinese youth's interest in international volunteer activities has increased, according to a report published by Baidu. The report said that the search frequency of the words "volunteer service" has increased by 79 percent year-on-year.