Very quickly, the first week of ALP has passed and I’ve mostly adjusted to life around ZJU, getting used to travelling around the huge school compound and conversing in Chinese. Huge thanks to Stella and Tenzin (ALP seniors) for helping everyone to settle in quickly, in opening bank accounts, SIM cards and showing us the good places to eat!
A major activity for me this week was volunteering at HuShu School(湖墅学校), a school for children with special needs. We helped out for 2 sessions this week. The first session was a short one where we accompanied a group of the students in their community service activity to give out flyers to raise environmental awareness. In the second session, we helped out in the school’s annual sports day. To be honest, I was feeling rather apprehensive in this first session for the first encounter with the children. I did not know how the children would be like, what kind of attitude they would have towards me and how to appropriately interact with them. These were some of the worries I had initially. Sure enough, at the initial meeting with the children, I found it difficult to communicate with the very active children but as we got used to each other, the interactions seemed to get easier. I found myself naturally going up to the children to strike a simple conversation with them.
Something I learnt through this volunteer session at HuShu School is that these children are actually no different from us. They too all have aspirations and strive to do their best. During the sports day, I could see that the students all had their competitive spirits up and had fought hard to win the races. I even heard one of them say that he wanted to win the race to give the prize to his mother. It was really heartwarming to hear it.
This week was also ZJU’s 120th anniversary and the campus was filled with celebratory activities over the weekend. It was interesting to be here witness this important milestone for the school!