It is currently 2 A.M. on Tuesday October 18th and I feel so terribly sad knowing that in one week I will be boarding a plane to go home, and I really don’t know how I could possibly write down everything I would like to say about my experience here in China with Projects Abroad. Chengdu is definitely a city everyone at some point in their life should take the time to visit and I’m so glad that I was able to live two months in Chengdu through Projects Abroad because it’s been such a wonderful experience.
My first day working at the school for kids with autism was nerve wrecking at the beginning because I thought no one knew how to speak English, but luckily one of the teachers knew enough to start a conversation with me and help me adapt to the classroom quickly. At lunchtime he took me out to eat with four of his friends that were teachers at the school as well. They were all so excited to meet me and I felt like a brand new toy that everyone wanted to play with. They were incredibly sweet and nice to me and did everything they could to make me feel comfortable.
The first few weeks were a little tough on me because I thought the kids would never warm up to me, and it was really tough to try and communicate with them, but everyday proved to be better than the last. At the beginning of the placement I couldn’t get my cheeks to stop hurting because that seemed to be the only way I could communicate with them. But Kevin was able to help me by giving me a few words to use to encourage the kids during the class. After that everything got better, by the end of the third week I was so happy about how much progress I had made and was glad that I had finally earned both the parent’s and children’s trust. In the afternoons I was in charge of making arts and crafts to decorate the school for the children. Unfortunately for the kids, my best art work has always been stick figures; therefore the afternoons always seemed never ending. But for my great fortune I was blessed with the arrival of two Danish girls, Jacqueline and Celine. I have a lot of fun with the kids in the morning during the classes and then get to enjoy decorating rooms with the girls in the afternoon.
I really had no idea what to expect when I arrived but after a few short weeks I completely fell in love with the city and its culture. Chengdu, in so many ways, is completely different from Houston. In Chengdu you never need to walk that far to get to your destination because there's always a bus stop, metro, or taxi nearby. The irony of coming from America, where I have no freedom unless I own a car, to arriving in China and feeling so free and independent! The other volunteers you meet are great as well. I can honestly say they are some of the best friends I have ever had and I've grown to love them so much! There is so much to talk about when it comes to Chengdu, like the food being delicious, the people staring at you nonstop, and of course feeling like a celebrity when Chinese folk randomly come up to you and ask to take a picture with you. It is so much fun being here and I’m dreading the moment in which I’ll have to leave because I’d much rather stay. Someday I will come back and I hope that every volunteer that comes through Chengdu with Projects Abroad has as much of an amazing experience as I did!
WOW your time there sounds amazing ! I have a really strong urge to go to china or visit more asian countries, because they just seem so amazing compared to home you know! I volunteered in cambodia, but china is definitely next on my list :) thanks for your wonderful story !!