Overseas volunteers attend Amity Winter Conference

From January 9 to January 14, the Winter Conference of Amity’s international exchange and education department took place in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province. Once a year Amity’s overseas volunteers and long-term teachers gather to exchange and share their experiences of their service in China. About 40 people from six countries of Amity’s various exchange programs attended the conference. Besides workshops for Amity’s overseas volunteers, the conference also organized a workshop for Amity’s Chinese local partners to enhance the well-being and placement of the overseas volunteers.

The volunteers introducing their work (left) and preparing for teaching sessions at a village school in Yongshun County (right).

On the first day the staff of Amity’s international exchange and education department gave presentations about the department’s latest developments. Over the last years, the department could extend its activities and programs. Meanwhile the number of programs has increased to eight and the exchange goes not only from north to south, but also vice versa and south-south exchange. In 2016, Amity's international education programs served more than 8,000 people directly.

The Pfrang international program is recognized and supported from an increasing number of people in China. The Pfrang Association was founded in 2000, after the tragedy of the Pfrang family being murdered by burglars. The Association encourages people to support impoverished children to receive education. In 2016, 17 schools with 308 students participated in the program. Olivia, a staffer who accompanied the program over the passed years shared her experiences of the program: “Money is one thing, but it is not the most important. I have no power to change the situation. But we can make small steps. We give hope. It is so touching.”

Volunteers teaching English at a village school supported by Amity.

During the conference, groups of overseas volunteers gave presentations about their placements, their work and shared experiences. One YAP volunteer said: ” You can really see, it is so difficult for the people to receive good education. Most students come from the countryside.” Furthermore, the volunteers received training for their future work and prepared teaching sessions for students of a mountain school that was built and supported by the Amity Foundation. During exposure trips the participants learned more about Hunan province and Amity's development projects.

Participants visiting a biogas project in Hunan (left) and an integrated water resource project (right).

After the conference Amity's YAP participants held the mid-term seminar of their volunteering service. To experience more about the YAP volunteers and their volunteering service in China you can watch the two videos Volunteering in China I and Volunteering in China II,  presented by a local TV station in Yumen.