I had the absolute honour and privilege of visiting China this June. This beautiful country, full of breath-taking landscapes, gigantic modern-day buildings and beautifully constructed historical landmarks felt like a home away from home. And as beautiful as China is, the people who live there emphasis it’s beauty in a way unimaginable to the Western world. Their patience, kindness, empathy and genuine happiness for life burst from the very core of their beings and welcomed all nineteen of us with open arms.
When I refer to China’s people, I am referring to more than just the Shanghai locals (as endearing and welcoming as they are). A mere 5 or so hours away from Shanghai is Sichuan Province; home of the Fu Hui sponsored girls and boys we worked alongside for two weeks. Here, education is as vital as the air you breathe. Here, Western world habits of wasting food or overindulgence are completely alien ways of living. Here, I fell in love with the pure innocence and genuine joy of children. Hours of arts and crafts, singing, dancing and talking were some of the best hours I’ve spent in my twenty years of life.
My group of nineteen Centennial students embarked on this journey expecting to be the teachers. I expected to be the empowerer; to be the one guiding the way and reshaping their lives. But this experience is a two way street for everyone involved.
In our last week working in Sichuan, we were grouped with six or so Fu Hui students. Two of them (Titus and Wincy) eighteen years old and six of them (Judy, Wendy, Jasmine, Alice, Sara and Jill) sixteen years old. I have no other way of explaining the impact the eight of them had on me but to tell you that I love each of them and I miss them terribly. I am so proud of each one for how far they’ve come; for how hard they push themselves and for how big their dreams are. Titus and Wincy will each be going to a University next year and I wish I could be there to congratulate them in person. I wish that this GCELE had been longer so I could have done more for them.
They have each reshaped the way I live; in how I talk to people, how I treat people, how I treat myself and how I treat all of the valuables I own. I work harder in everything that I do every day since I returned home. Educating myself has become my primary concern; saving enough money to be able to sponsor Fu Hui on a monthly basis is a close second. And this incredible life changing experience is all thanks to them
Alexandra De Menezes
SSW: Ashtonbee Campus