A laowai for society!

19 09 2010

Very special and different Saturday: I partecipated together with some students from Hefei Univerisity to a voluntering social activity.

Next week will be mid-autumn festival, , when traditionally people eat moon cakes, 月饼. So the social assistants from one of the poorest areas of Hefei organized a special day for bringing moon-cakes and fruit to three of the oldest people/family living in the area: 2 widowed women of respectively 86 and 96 years old and a couple of both 85 years old.

The students from the Foreign Language department of Hefei University were involved in the volunterring activity with also the target to involve some foreigners. Since their teachers were busy for some reasons, Veronika asked me if I could take part to the activity, and I was happy to do it!

Volunteer activityFirst of all it has been a chance to see a part of city where I usually would not go: old buildings, and streets, and still not in the suburbs. I guess it is common in Chinese fast development that poor aresas end up compressed between richer or newer ones. This area is just between pretty Hu Po, 琥珀, and the beginning of the center of the city, a street North of Anqing Lu.. like another world respect ot hte big buildings and richer area around.. Then the reason of having a foreigners was for advertise the difficult work of the social officers in front of newspaper and local TV that came yesterday to this special activity. There was a camera operator and three photographers from local media. Given that one of my best friends is also working in social services, it was my pleasure and honor to support the cause!

Volunteer activityThe first woman that welcomed us was also the only one that accepted to be photographed. The other elders did not want to appear in picture and even I respected that! But all of them were so lively! Smiling and dignified, proud of their houses, that even small or poor were not decadent, forgotten, not giving bad feelings or leaving sadness. I wish to get to their age with such a strength.

All of them saw so many changes in China, during their long life. Experienced so much, and keep on doing that, last representant of families long gone.

My “work” has been being photogrpahed handing over the presents to these smiling.. all natural, but I am to the most photogenic person ever.. so I guess I was also a bit embarass. But apart from this, it was all very relaxing, even when the media people were asking for some.. not so natural poses, it was funny! 😀

All the students were very nice and smiling, enjoying and transmitting good feelnigs to the elderly. But who can resist anyway a Chinese young girl smile? 😉

Definitvely a different Saturday afternoon.. quite special for a laowai arrived not even 6 months ago in Hefei!! Apparently I met the right people here and there! 🙂

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