By Magnus Manhart
Magnus in front of the Giant Buddha in Leshan
Magnus Manhart from Germany volunteered with Amity's Young Adult Program in 2011, teaching English to school kids in Gansu, for one year. After his gap year he decided to study law in Hong Kong. He is now a co-initiator of a social service volunteering and consulting group of students in his university. The group has decided to cooperate with Amity Hong Kong in the future.
I was not sure what to expect before I left for Gansu, since the main thing I heard about Gansu was always the poverty in that area. However I was surprised how underdeveloped the area actually is. It was a valuable experience, experiencing the real Chinese culture and the real Chinese people rather than staying in the big cities in East China, where many things have become very westernized. I think it made me realize how different the country is and how many aspects it has. It also taught me to be self sufficient and independent, since it was the first time not living at home for me. It gave me a lot of time to think about life and about my future, which I did not have during my high school years. Before I went to volunteer, I had a basic idea about life plans. I was always planning to live abroad but I was not completely sure whether that would be a suitable lifestyle for me. So this gap year gave me a good impression of what living by oneself in a completely different environment in a foreign country actually is.
It made me realize that there are many things I still have to learn, but it still confirmed my plans to live abroad rather than to stay at one place. I realized that making money and having a career are not my main priorities in my life and I would rather like to see the world. It gave me the impression, that it is much more valuable to be a world citizen rather than a local thinking individual. That is the main thing I learned through my gap year: living the life of your ancestors and the life like everybody around you will not make your life experience rich, but going your own path and exploring things nobody else has done before does.