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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid