It is not common behavior in China to be involved in community service projects and or engaging with strangers you see in your every day activities. After moving from an academically driven high school in the suburbs of Silicon Valley to a more closed urban New England culture for university, I found myself appalled by an incompetent recycling program. How could such an established university not sort aluminum cans from plastic bottles? “Laurie, don’t you realize that California has brainwashed you to be a tree-hugger?” my mom responded.
My parents, as Taiwanese immigrants, would dread taking their three children on annual camping trips that their friends would organize. “We worked so hard to have a house and beds to sleep in. Who would choose to sleep on the cold ground in a flappy tent?” It is because of my parents’ view that enjoying the great outdoors and helping people in society is odd that I am able to understand why many individuals I encounter in China do not understand my choice to engage in the social sector. In fact, when explaining to the very individuals these nonprofits support that I actually enjoy this work, I am met with long stares and folded eyebrows.
In June of this year, I decided to join SVG and work on a specific project because the client’s vision to start a hospitality vocational school in Shanghai struck a chord with me. At first I thought the timeline was too short to prepare the many components needed to launch the program but two key people assured me that enough support would be present during the decision-making and execution process. They were right. This project has received miracle upon miracle of resources and personnel exactly at the right time and the program began successfully and on-time. The experience was so great that I have decided to extend my time with SVG to follow along with the program’s development. While this client’s vision is to see the students' lives transformed through increased potential for their futures, my vision is to see China’s majority take the every day opportunities to engage and reach out to the marginalized communities.
Laurie Lin has been living in Shanghai, China for almost ten years. Her favorite organizations that she supports and has worked with include Home Sweet Home, Eden Ministry, and now this vocational training program.