Dear readers, 
 
perhaps you are considering to work as a volunteer in China. Last year, I was in a similar situation. Let me describe you my experiences during my preparations, my stay in Shanghai and of course my return to Germany. 
To begin with, I decided to work as a volunteer six months before I left for China. During that time, I prepared my project “teach and travel in China” together with the German organization Open Door International e.V. They in turn cooperated with the organization Xu Bo Art and Culture Exchange Co.,Ltd and prepared everything: The accommodation, the transfer from the airport in Shanghai to the accommodation, the application for a language course and the volunteer placement. I have to say that the whole process – from the first contact to the arrival at the flat in Shanghai – went very well! 
After arriving in Shanghai we – a group of three volunteers – were 
introduced to the Chinese culture during an initial seminar by XuBo. We were taught to write our first Chinese characters and had a guided tour in Shanghai. After that seminar I met my students at the Shanghai Shang Gang Care Centre for the first time. It was both, beautiful on the one hand as my students welcomed me very warm but also very hard as I wasn’t able to communicate with my students due to my lack of Chinese language skills. 
For me the language barrier was the biggest challenge. But due to the patience of my supervisors and students we found our way of communication. The greatest experiences were to teach my students how to bake a German chocolate cake, to teach how to eat with fork and knife, explain how the weekdays are based on the names of European gods and of course, where I come from. Everything went fine and I enjoyed my student’s progress. Then I was told that at home in Germany, my grandfather had passed away. I felt very sad and considered to travel back earlier. It was the conversations with my family, with my colleagues at work as well as the experiences with my students that made me stay. 
Besides my work at the Shanghai Shang Gang Care Centre I learned Chinese at the Mandarin House Language School. I was awarded as a “star student” and allowed to give a speech in Chinese and English at a gala dinner. 
Additionally, I was very lucky. I met a beautiful girl and will never forget eating dinner together next to the illuminated World Financial Center and Oriental Pearl Tower. It was my greatest moment as a volunteer and also the last evening of my stay in Shanghai. 
Back in Germany, I felt different. My friends and family told me that I am way calmer. I think it’s because I made a dream come true. 
For this reason, dear reader, if you are considering working abroad in a country like China and a city like Shanghai… it can be a very challenging experience in your life, but also one of the most beautiful ones. For this reason, I wish you good luck, endurance and a lot of exciting moments abroad. 
 
Best Regards, 
 
Kristof