2009 is shaping up to be one crazy year for me. New country, new job, new language, and a wedding to boot.
But one of my major goals, alongside becoming fluent in Chinese and losing weight for the wedding, is the pretty simple to give something back to the community.
In Australia, I was always always always time-poor. I just never reallyy had the time to do anything.. there was always something on, someone to see, something to do. I never really got a chance to sit down and have much “me time”, so the only charitable thing I did was to attend Charity balls and donate money. Which is all well and good, but does feel somewhat.. empty, after awhile.
In Shanghai, I am even more time-poor. Between the relocation to a new country and settling into a new job and making new friends, there’s just been very very little time to fully dedicate to myself. And let’s not even get started on the wedding planning because yes ladies and gentlemen, I have done NOTHING! The wedding’s just over 3 months away and I haven’t gotten my ass into gear – it’s insane. I’m useless.
Anyway, the difference is that now in Shanghai, I really do see the less fortunate up-close-and-personal. It really is everywhere, if you open your eyes. And it does get to me. So I decided a few months ago to do a bit of volunteering and just make the time to do it.
1) Volunteer Business Consultant for the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade - this was actually arranged through eBay. It allows us to utilise our skills and knowledge to help out smaller struggling Chinese companies – companies that are amazing and innovative, and all they need is a little push in the right direction. I’m working with a Water-Recycling company and an Agate Jewellery company and it’s really rewarding :)
2) Volunteering at a Young Professionals organisation - we do various activities and education for children, disabled people, and just the less fortunate.
It’s only small and won’t make a huge difference, but it’s fun and I have to admit, much better than just donating cash. There’s just something quite humbling about working with charities, and I think it’s really good for me because to be really frank, we live a really comfy life in Shanghai (since our money goes far here) and I see MANY MANY expats get completely caught up in the lap of luxury and forgot all about the people here and what life is really like. I don’t want to become like that. I like to appreciate the nice things that we’ve worked hard for, but I also always want to be aware of how other people live too.
In particular there’s one more organisation I REALLY want to volunteer for – and that’s in the hospital where children have recently had heart surgery. And also one more which is the pet volunteer society…. but my heart is really soft and no doubt I’ll end up with the apartment full of pets that I just can’t leave behind, so Chris has forbid me (so far) to do it!! :P