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)
William Ide
— 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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid