I couldn’t remember the weather when I first landed in Anyang, China, but I remember how my heart was racing and how clammy my palms were. So far from home, yet I was thrilled towards what awaited me in the coming 47 days of my global volunteer journey in China.
First stop, Anyang
Anyang was the first out of the three districts I visited in China. During the first 2 weeks at Anyang, I had to conduct lessons on a bunch of secondary students. Just the idea of teaching freaked me out, as I had absolutely zero confidence when it came to public speaking. But I didn’t come all the way from Malaysia to China just to let fear get in my way. At first, it was hard to articulate my thoughts through words, but I overcame my inner fear, and I did it.
Time has passed. But I will always remember how proud I was to teach the locals on the uniqueness of Malaysian culture.
The most unforgettable moment I had in Anyang was no other than the time we spent hanging out in what we called the ‘charging room’. The charging room was actually the only room in our accommodation that has sockets. That one small room held memories between a group of teenagers with extremely different backgrounds and witnessed multiple cross-cultural friendships being made.
Yan Shi, where culture shock hit me hard
The following 2 weeks at Yan Shi were the same teaching and some outdoor activities with the local students. But what really got me taken aback upon the first day of arrival was the shower rooms. The fact that there were no separate cubicles in the shower room of our dormitories still cringe me out. It was hard for me to strip naked in front of strangers, even when we were of the same gender. For the entire fortnight, I would purposely shower after the peak shower time, even when it meant no hot water as the assigned shower time for students has long passed.
Long nights in cold shower reminded me of how alien I still am towards this country, and their culture…
How I ended my journey happily with an awful landlord
I ended my Global Volunteer journey in Zheng Zhou, in a small apartment occupied by 16 exchange participants. One of the ridiculous rules set by the landlord was the usage of the air conditioners. We were only given the “privilege” of using the air conditioners at night. Despite the scorching weather outside during the day, switching it on was a no-no. I find it funny that the landlord tried to hide the remote control from us at times when air-conditioners were not allowed. The summer heat got us drenched in sweat every day. But what remained even more vivid was how reluctant we all were when it was time to leave. 6 weeks were too long, yet too short.
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. The 47 days journey in China was definitely the best gift I could ever give myself. I hope that, what I gained through Global Volunteer, will forever be close to my heart.
In AIESEC, we believe in developing leadership through practical experiences in challenging environment, and we do this by delivering cross-cultural exchanges. We have created thousands of stories ever since we started in Malaysia 50 years ago. Here’s just one of them.