By Xing Huiping, Teacher at Minghui Elementary School, Shanghai
When I was a kid, joining a summer camp was something I dreamed about. It never came true, probably because of what was happening at that time. When I grew up, I thought about being a volunteer. I wanted to experience how it felt to help and serve people, but I wasn’t able to find a suitable organization. To my surprise, these two dreams came true this summer vacation!
I was ecstatic. More than 10 students in my class were chosen by ADLINK to represent students from Mainland China and take part in the ADLINK Cross-Straight Summer Camp for Kids with children from Taiwan! However, my excitement turned to panic when my students’ when I thought about my students’ individual personalities. For example, some of them were very quiet, and some of them were very outgoing and talkative. What if they were too reluctant to participate? We didn’t know much about the children from Taiwan – what if something unexpected happened? Such questions kept running through my mind in the days leading up to the start of the summer camp. Fortunately, Huaqian, a very nice and patient teacher, was there the entire time to help me with my questions. Friendly and kind – this was the first impression I got from ADLINK’s employees.
We arrived at ADLINK’s Shanghai branch as scheduled on August 3. The children were curious but seemed more lost and confused by being surrounded by so many strangers. Just when we were at our wits’ end trying to figure out what to do, the volunteers walked towards us cheerfully and greeted us. Then they assigned each child to a volunteer and helped them, carrying their luggage, taking them to their dorm rooms, and getting them familiarized with ADLINK.
On the second day, the campers were introduced to Xiangxiang’s “Robot of Wonder.” Xiangxiang was a volunteer who led the activity. Once the children heard the word “robot,” their faces became flushed with excitement, curiosity and eagerness, but she patiently explained how to make their robots and gave the students some tips to help them. When it was their turn to operate the robots, they were able to show off their abilities and talents and made their robots look as cool as possible. When they won the competition, every member of the winning team beamed with pride. It’s not very common to see facial expressions like these in school. Energetic and youthful – that was my second impression of ADLINK.
Day four of the camp came much sooner than we wanted to. After the day tour, we headed back to the camp with heavy hearts. Everyone knew that it was going to be the final night they spent together. Some of the children got homesick when they first arrived, but after spending day and night with the volunteer camp counselors, they grew so attached to them, that many of them were sobbing while watching the highlight video during the closing ceremony. Eventually we ran out of napkins in the classroom. The campers and their counselors had become like family over the few days together. When a child had a fever, the counselors wouldn’t let them out of their sight. When a child needed to wash their hands, the counselors went along with them to the washroom. During day tours, the volunteer staff was always alert and attentive. They took attendance whenever they arrived at a new destination. In fact, the youth volunteers were children themselves, and also needed attentive care. However, they didn’t act like children, but the campers’ parents. The volunteer staff “abandoned” their own family and their own kids so that the campers could have a fun-filled and safe environment. This culminated into my third impression of ADLINK – Selfless and caring.
The five-day summer camp came to an end with tears and laughter, sadness and anticipation. We made friends, found family, valued humility, grew more understanding, and of course, most importantly, we learned gratitude. We are grateful for the teachers, for our society, for our lives, and for ADLINK, for giving us a chance to make friends and learn with people from different cultures, ages and nationalities. We look forward to meeting again!