Community “Service”

What does it mean to do community service? When a person visits a new community, how do they know how to give?

Today, our group of high school students went back to Huiling to work with the mentally challenged adults.  We “served” by watching them perform musical numbers, dances, comedy, and magic.. and then leading our own entertainment.  The students taught them circle games and American dances, but mostly they just had fun together. There was a lot of joy in the room, as you can see:

Is it enough to just show up and bring your heart to the table, or does doing service need to be more strategic? How do you know that you are doing good for others? I’d be curious to hear from readers who have done community service before.  Have you been successful at helping others? What about others from a different cultural background? How did you know that you were making a difference?

Categories: China

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6 replies »

  1. I think I’ve done community service before.

    I’ve played piano with other children around my age at nursing homes many times. It was like a recital. They enjoyed the music a lot! We played piano at several nursing homes this year, and they wanted my dad to send a picture of us and send it to them! I think we’ve been successful at helping others because at the end of one of the performances, a senior came to say, “Thank you very much for coming! This is the best day of my life!” I knew we had helped them a lot after she said that.
    In China during summer vacation last year, I helped my Chinese friends learn English. I gave them English lessons nearly everyday. We would learn for an hour, reading from a book, and then have some fun together. But we didn’t attempt the entire hour all together, we would take a break after 30 minutes, and then go back to learning until another 30 minutes had passed. At the end of the summer, my friends’ English had improved A LOT!! I knew I had helped them after that.
    To answer your first question, I think it depends on the situation. If you’re helping someone learn, you might need to be more strategic, but if it’s just helping someone have fun (or something like that), you might just need to give them a simple helping hand.

    Hope this helps!
    😉 ~ Anna

  2. Ha, what a great video! Last year I volunteered at an orphanage for disabled children in Tianjin, China, but the atmosphere was nowhere near as fun as that. Most of the kids had severe mental disabilities which meant they couldn’t speak, and some of them could barely move their bodies. It was pretty tough as I often got no clear sign from them that my being there was making a difference, but then that just made the times when I got a smile or even a laugh all the more meaningful.

  3. I think that getting up and having fun with a friend would be a good service to a friend. It would be great to just have fun with them to show your a friend than need to buy them presents and the other stuff that feels necessary here. It would mean more to me if someone came over and had a dance party (and made balloon animals) than if they insisted that we watch T.V with perspective covered cheese puffs. I think it is enough to “just show up and bring your heart to the table”. The people there looked like they were having a blast. Hey, they were pretty good dancers! 😀

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