The Charity Times recently interviewed Guo Xinbao, director of the China Soong Chingling Youth Technology and Cultural Exchange Center (中国宋庆龄青少年科技文化交流中心), who introduced an experimental volunteer activity carried out by his center that can shed light on the development of youth volunteering in China.
Guo explained that at present volunteering activities are like a one-way practice, in which the host provides the opportunity to take part, but the volunteers cannot really acquire practical program experience or knowledge. This sort of activity generally fails to attract the interest of the young. When it comes to traditional volunteering activities like picking up cigarette ends and wiping guardrails, parents tend to be less supportive due to safety and sanitary concerns. Guo’s center is now trying to develop volunteer programs that can meet the demands of young people.
The center’s program was carried out in June. It involved recruiting 43 students from Beijing’s No.4 High School to offer interactive lectures to children. During this activity, the students were provided with the chance to work with each other to design, develop, and carry out the programs all by themselves. They not only provided the children with the content knowledge, and led them to complete the interactive experience, but also learnt to form a partnership with peers. The center believes that this unique model of volunteering can be of example, as it trains the students’ ability to organize, coordinate and express themselves.
With respect to the next step, the center plans to institutionalize this experiment and make it a long-term program, and it is developing three ways to accept participants both online and offline: individual applications, group applications, and cooperation with schools. While most people think that volunteering means simply carrying out activities, the center is strengthening its effort to turn these activities into a formal course with a curricular content. Students could come to the center from Monday to Friday to attend experimental and practical courses and gain basic knowledge about volunteering. On weekends and holidays, or even in the after-school period, the center provides volunteering posts for students.
Sharing one’s experiences is deemed to be part of the incentive mechanism, so the center has set up a sharing session after each volunteering session to improve the quality of the program and allow the students to grow.