Chinese volunteers proud of their jobs
( 2003-12-05 00:32) (China Daily)
Liu Nan quit a satisfying job at a joint venture in Beijing to join China's first group of volunteers to Laos. Li Honglin also made a big sacrifice. Upon his return after a six-month volunteer stint, his wife announced a divorce.
It is a year since a second and third team of more volunteers have been sent to Laos, and two other teams to Myanmar. But those days are still vivid in Liu and Li's minds as they and hundreds of thousands of others Friday celebrate International Volunteers Day.
"I can never forget the attentive eyes of those Laotian kids,'' said Liu, who taught them English at a training centre in the capital city of Vientiane.
She said she does not regret giving up a well-paid job at Rain Forest Cafe in Beijing, as she was happy to have brought goodwill to that country.
For his part, Li, as head of the pioneering five-member team organized by the Communist Youth League of China, acquired instant fame after national and local media ran detailed stories on him when he returned.
He was invited to give lectures at various gatherings on volunteer service themes - the most impressive occasion occurred last March, when Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau, attended.
"Nothing has changed since I've come back,'' said Li. "I am still a deputy principal at the school, still doing my job of teaching and doing administrative work, besides sparing some time giving lectures here and there.''
He spent a lot of time lecturing to promote the idea of volunteerism to as many people as possible, he said.
Barely 10 years ago, many Chinese people still had no idea about what volunteer service was, except for the traditional call for learning from Lei Feng, a model soldier who was dedicated to helping others.
Now, as young people are organized to help the aged and the disabled, teach in poor inland villages, or serve in large-scale activities such as APEC and sports games, the idea of volunteer service has become well known to people of all walks of life.
The Communist Youth League of China established an office to promote volunteerism nationwide in 1993.
"Our goal is to encourage more people to participate in volunteer services, and later develop the service as a way of life,'' said Lu Yongzheng, director of the youth league's Youth Volunteer Service Department.
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