China is one of the most mysterious and magical countries on the planet, full of culture and endless adventures. Shrouded in history and full of vibrant life, it was for these reasons that I chose to volunteer there. I spent 5 months with Lattitude Global Volunteering in the south of China in a town called Yuxi, in the province on Yunnan and it was the most incredible experience of my life. The time I spent there was so humbling and educational; it was everything I had hoped it would be and more.
My main role in China was to be an English teacher to students of all ages. The kids were amazing, they were all so willing to learn and work hard that it made every day enjoyable. The daunting task of teaching lessons to over 60 children slowly begins to, with time, become the highlight of your day. There is no greater feeling than knowing that a group of people are learning and improving by your teaching, the English Language plays a key role in the world and the people of China know that. The kind of kids I taught had the ambition of people who saw no end to what they can achieve and where they could take their lives. Before long I began to realise that, although I was the teacher, I was learning so much from the people I was meeting.
I had no end of invitations to visit the homes of the students and be involved within their families’ routine. Learning about culture and traditions back home normally involves reading a book or watching a DVD in school, but being out in China, in the heart of the country, educates you in a way that you can’t forget. My eyes were opened to all kind of foods, traditions, scenery and history that made every day an adventure.
Although I was placed on my own in China, this was possibly the best thing that could have happened to me. It enabled me to have the determination and courage to completely drop my guard and fully immerse myself within the culture. I worked really hard on learning the language and tried to get the most I could out of the country. I got to experience things and explore places that I would never have dreamt of before I visited the country.
A word of warning, volunteering in a country, especially China, gets under your skin. It moulds you into a person that you could have never imagined you would become. The country will never leave your memory and you will always remember your time there as the best of your life. No matter how hard you try, you can never articulate to someone how amazing China and the time you spent volunteering there was.
I cannot thank Lattitude Global Volunteering enough for enabling me to travel to this most incredible place. I made lifelong friends, had experiences I will never forget and began to really understand what life is about and what exactly I want to do with mine. I enjoyed it so much, I’m planning on going back again this year to visit my friends, the school I worked in and learn so much more about the most magical place I have ever been. Good luck to anyone planning on going there, you’re in for an adventure!