After volunteering at the 2016 Little Red Scarf Summer Camp, Cindy shares about her personal experience.
The trip to Gansu was such a rewarding and unforgettable experience! It was truly amazing to see these children face-to-face, and now they have a place in my heart.
What was it like to meet the children in person, after helping to translate their stories?
For the past few years, I have been working with my son to translate stories for children who went through congenital heart disease surgery. As I was translating their stories, it was obvious their lives were very distant from me. It is very difficult for someone who has been living in North America for nearly 30 years to imagine living in rural Gansu and the problems they are facing.
I had never been to China before. This trip to Gansu was the first visit to this country. We were a bit nervous and anxious as we prepared for this trip. When we landed in Gansu, the staff member Guan Ying made us feel welcome. She took us for our first famous Lanzhou beef noodles and also introduced to us the lives of the children and the mission of their work.
After an hour of sitting on the train and another hour of riding the bus, we finally arrived at the camp location. It was truly amazing to see these children face-to-face after translating their stories. We got to talk to them, hold their hands, play games, and sing songs with them. They were a great group of kids! We had so much fun together.
I tried to make the connection between their stories and their names. I am so grateful that I could get to see them. The children were also curious about our lives in Canada. During those days at camp, we chatted about our lives in Toronto and showed them pictures as well. We also gave them a quick lesson on the history and geography of Canada. As I got to know them better, I had a much deeper understanding of the lives they have and the difficulties they are facing. When I came back to Canada to translate their stories again, it felt completely different. They were real.
How did the camp experience affect you and the children you served?
It was a privilege to be part of the kid's summer camp in Lanzhou, Gansu. This trip was such a rewarding and memorable experience. It also affected me in many different ways. I never imagined I would be in tears when I was about to leave those children to head back home. It is sad that we were not able to spend more time with them. Some of them kept asking me whether we would come back next year, and if we did, they would want us to visit their home to show us how beautiful their village is.
Some of the children were simply sad just because we are leaving. We exchanged contact information and hugged each other as we stepped out of the camp. Although this trip was very short, it has put those children in a place in my heart.
I am forever grateful to my aunt who encouraged me and my family to participate in this summer camp. Even though this journey was long and could be challenging at times, it was truly a great learning experience. The staff were also wonderful. They spent so much time planning and organizing this camp. We could see their passion and love for the children. The trust and bonding between the children and the staff greatly touched my heart. I felt it was like a big family.
What were the highlights from serving at the camp?
The other highlight was the visit to the Lanzhou hospital. While the children were taking turns having free echocardiograms, the hospital staff took us for a tour of the NICU as well as to visit a boy who had congenital heart surgery but was having seizures, so he needed to have further examination. The hospital staff were very caring and welcoming. They had spent great efforts in organizing this special event for the children. They planned a drawing session for the children and prepared gifts for them as well. They made the children feel important and cared for.
I also got the opportunities to perform several piano pieces in their piano concert and had a great time sharing music with the children. We all had a great afternoon together!
Article written by Cindy Chung, edited by Carolyn D.
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