What is your role at IVHQ China? What inspired you to start your volunteer organization?
David: As the Director of IVHQ's partner organization in China, my role is to take care of volunteers who come to China and offer them a project to work in that is in need of volunteers. I started my organization because I saw that we have so many organizations in China urgently needing help, but these organizations did not have the resources to find people to help them. Also, I knew there are always a lot of people who want to do volunteer work to help others, but they cannot find the right place to volunteer - this information disconnect was happening all the time. I wanted to work to help those two groups of people to connect, so when someone wants to do volunteer work, they will know where to go.
What do you enjoy most in your role?
David: I feel very happy when I see the volunteers working on our projects, the happiness on the faces of the people that they are helping make makes me feel that my work is valuable. I get to meet so many nice people from all over the world and those nice people inspire me to work harder and help more people. I often think that I am a very lucky man, I don't have to travel the world, but the world's nicest people all come to me, all the volunteers I meet is a valuable treasure in my life.
What is your favorite story of an IVHQ volunteer's experience in China?
David: There is one volunteer I remember very well, his father helped him apply for the program and sent him to work with me in a special needs center. He was born into a rich family and had not faced many challenges in his life, so he became rebellious and would hang around all day at home wasting his time, and he did not have any goals for the future. After he worked in the Special Needs project for a few weeks, he met many physically and mentally challenged people and he could see how they were struggling, he was very shocked and moved and he began to think about his life and know how lucky he was and that he should treasure it and make life meaningful. Back home, he studied very hard and he is now a very good doctor. His father was very happy he made the decision to send his son to work here in China, which changed his son's whole life.
What should every volunteer considering volunteering in China know?
David: To volunteer in Xi'an China is a very good experience, Xi'an is a city that has very long history with plenty of things to see - this is the best city for you to feel China's culture. The weather in Xi'an can be very hot in summer time from July to August, the hottest weather can reach around 45 degrees celcius, but winter is not that cold, the coldest weather will be around -5 degrees Celsius. The locals in Xi'an are very friendly and they treat foreigner nicely and always want to make friends with volunteers. There are so many things to see in Xi'an, like the Terracotta warriors, the Big Goose Pagoda, the City Wall, the Bell and Drum Tower, and the city is very beautiful during night with red lanterns everywhere light up the city, this is the place you come and will fall in love immediately. The most popular way to travel in Xi'an is by taxi, bus or subway, which are all very easy to reach.
What tips/insights do you have for first-time volunteers abroad?
David: If it's your first time volunteering abroad, choose to come to Xi'an - our volunteer program here has been running here for almost 10 years and we are very experienced in placing international volunteers on our projects. First-time volunteers need to be prepared for new things and need to be willing try different things, which will make their experience richer. The most important thing is have confidence in yourself, we have lots of young volunteers come to China by themselves and had a great time! See you soon in China!