News / Asia

Chinese Pursue Volunteer Opportunities in Africa

A small, growing number of Chinese are putting their careers and studies on hold to do volunteer work in Africa. (VOA video)
A small, growing number of Chinese are putting their careers and studies on hold to do volunteer work in Africa. (VOA video)
China's ties with Africa are growing. Media coverage generally focuses on the controversy over Beijing’s surging investment and trade, which critics say do not fairly benefit Africans. But there is a small, growing number of Chinese who are putting their careers and studies on hold to do volunteer work on the continent.
           
Chinese Pursue Volunteer Opportunities in Africai
X
March 26, 2013 4:11 PM
China's ties with Africa are growing. Media coverage generally focuses on the controversy over Beijing’s surging investment and trade, which critics say do not fairly benefit Africans. But VOA’s Bill Ide reports there is a small, growing number of Chinese who are putting their careers and studies on hold to do volunteer work on the continent.

At a recent training session in Beijing, doctors, information technology specialists, business professionals and others prepare for a one- to two-year stint in Africa with international development charity VSO, Voluntary Services Overseas.
 
Zhang Liang, a doctor from China’s northeastern province of Liaoning, said, “A friend of mine has a clinic in Africa which was doing really well. When he returned to China and we got to know each other, he told me about his experiences there and I was very interested. I thought that if I had a chance I would least go once. It would be a privilege to try and contribute somehow."
 
When professionals in China volunteer, many do not know if they will get their old jobs back when they return.
 
But they say the opportunities abroad make it worth the risk.
 
Stephanie Wong, a city planner, recently returned from Zambia with VSO. She said,  "I am personally very interested in working for [the] general public. Because planning is very much related to social issues, and I want to experience myself what I can do for the general public as a planner."
 
While China may be the world’s second largest economy, it still has more than 200 million people living off of less than a dollar and 25 cents a day.
 
VSO country director Fanny Chan said that gives Chinese volunteers a unique perspective.
 
"When we talk to the volunteers from China most of them, either through their families or even themselves, have witnessed poverty," said Chan. "And they also know that if people have better access to basic services, to education, can find a way to make a living that can lift people out of poverty. They know that is possible."

China has been sending medical volunteers to Africa for decades. They are now in 45 countries on the continent. China’s youth volunteers corps, an effort similar to the United States’ Peace Corps, is a path that some choose.  
 
But, said Liu Haifang, deputy director of Peking University’s Africa Research Center, students are increasingly turning to other organizations for overseas volunteer work.
 
"My impression is that young volunteers are finding their own ways to go abroad. They are not inclined to say that they represent China," Liu said. "They are not interested in saying who they represent. They represent themselves. They have ambitions and dreams that they want to realize."

Liu said the trend highlights the changes in how China and its citizens are reaching out to the rest of the world.

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs