A day of joy: Russian national shares her volunteer diary

City News Service
Six volunteers, five of whom are expats, visited Huangpu District Special Education Vocational School to assist students with neurodiversity, and one shares the experience.
City News Service

The City News Service Charity Club organized its first volunteer event of the Year of the Dragon at Huangpu District Special Education Vocational School on Monday. Six volunteers, five of whom are expats, came to the school and helped students with neurodiversity to make a Chinese knot and write Chinese calligraphy to celebrate the new semester and the Chinese New Year.

One of the volunteers, Evgeniya from Russia, shares her volunteer diary.

Feb 19, 2024

Hey diary,

Today was one of those days that makes you smile just thinking about it.

A sunlit day that warmed more than just the air in Shanghai.

Shanghai's just shaken off the last chills of winter and with it, HPTZ School (Huangpu District Special Education Vocational School) welcomed the Year of the Dragon with a new semester launch ceremony that was as moving as it was inspiring. Nestled in the heart of the city, the school is a beacon of hope for children with neurodiversity. Today I had the privilege of participating in the ceremony and sharing the joy that filled the air.

The school dean, He Ying, kicked things off. She's got this way of speaking that's all heart – a genuine vibe that gets you. She wished the students success and courage in the new year.

You could see the excitement in their eyes – or was it the Spring Festival glow? Maybe, or maybe it's just what happens when you believe in brighter tomorrows.

Then came the singing, oh the singing! Picture this: us, volunteers, and students, all of us giving it our all to Leehom Wang's "Descendants of the Dragon." A classic that took me right back to when I was just starting to learn Chinese, to that very first "Ni Hao" ever!

Were we off-key? Absolutely, hah. But who cares – it was about the fun of doing something together. And fun it was!

A day of joy: Russian national shares her volunteer diary
Ti Gong

CNS volunteers sing Leehom Wang's "Descendants of Dragon" with the students with neurodiversity.

With the weather playing nice – hello blue skies and gentle breezes – the ceremony spilled outdoors. Calligraphy and traditional Chinese knotting stations were set up, and we got to try our hands at both. Hands were ink-stained, cords were tangled. And amid the laughter, it was clear that everyone was having a blast. It was a hands-on, all-in, laugh-out-loud kind of fun.

After the event, I caught up with some fellow volunteers. We shared our stories, and dived into our reasons for being there today.

Here is what they had to say:

Yu Haili (Kelly) from China: "Events like this hold so much meaning. Giving love and receiving it back... the feeling is truly priceless! It was a beautiful day, and I'm certain tomorrow will be even more beautiful."

A day of joy: Russian national shares her volunteer diary
Ti Gong

Yu Haili (right) helps students make Chinese knots.

Michelle Tan from Malaysia: "Thank you City News Service for organizing such a meaningful event. It certainly was a pleasure having the company of such talented young adults. They showed us resilience, hard-work, courage and pride in their faces. Definitely a memorable event for all! The teachers' dedication for these young students is truly heartfelt! Wishing all the students and teachers in HPTZ success, joy, warmth, and happiness for the year of the dragon!"

A day of joy: Russian national shares her volunteer diary
Zhou Anna

Michelle Tan helps a student to write Chinese calligraphy.

Marco Chávez from Mexico: "Volunteering with CNS feels special and enriching every time. Shanghai City has become a second home to my wife and I. I've gained so much from living here, and as a citizen of this great city, helping the community is my way of saying thanks. I am so grateful that I was able to help and assist the students at their back-to-school Chinese New Year celebration today. It's so rewarding to be able to pitch in and continue learning along the way."

And as Marco's wife, I couldn't agree more!

A day of joy: Russian national shares her volunteer diary
Ti Gong

Evgeniya (left) and Marco Chávez with a student who just finished writing the Chinese character 福, or fu, meaning fortune.

Such events are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of community. It's a reminder that kindness is a universal language spoken by all, it's a positive wave that influences entire communities and breaks down cultural barriers.

Walking away, I couldn't shake the feeling that Shanghai is not just a city; it's a living storybook where we all get to write our chapters. And today? We penned a chapter filled with joy, art, and the kind of memories that stick with you.

Yeah, today was something special.

Until next time.

A day of joy: Russian national shares her volunteer diary
Ti Gong

CNS volunteers pose with the students of Huangpu District Special Education School.

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