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I left the hustle and bustle of Beijing’s central business district behind this afternoon to embark on a 2-week adventure!  Leaving the ImmerQi office I was pretty nervous yet mostly excited about what was ahead of me.

So you’re probably wondering why I have decided to pack a bag and move to the Beijing countryside to live on a self-sustainable farm at the beginning of winter?  I have come to volunteer for an organization, which provides foster care, education and professional training for Chinese orphans who are visually impaired. My goal is to set up a new program whereby ImmerQi help source overseas volunteers to participate in a volunteer program here. So I really wanted to try out the whole experience myself! I have always believed volunteering to be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. To give a period of time to help a worthy cause builds character and can really make a difference to those who need it.

I have visited this organization before; a few months back I came for the day to help harvest corn on the farm, though it was quite different to how I had remembered it in the summer. The cornfield has now been completely harvested; the corn fully peeled and dried out and most of the crops have now been dug up. A stable has also been built and I was told soon a horse would be arriving, which is to help in the development of some of the children with autism.

Upon arriving I was taken straight to where I was to live for the next fortnight. I am staying in dormitory style accommodation, which is really well equipped with a kitchen, living room area and shower facilities. This is where all volunteers coming to help out will stay. Ah. Not to forget the pets, the volunteers’ house is also home to a kitten and dog, which, since I love animals is great for me! After a quick tour of the accommodation the program coordinator took me to be introduced to all the staff members. There are lots of employees and volunteers located at the organization, each of which has a key role in the day-to-day and overall upkeep. I met the principal, the teachers, office staff, caretakers and nannies and all were incredibly friendly and welcoming.

Next I met some of the youngest children, and we took a walk together with them around the farm and I was introduced to the newest addition of the family- a very cute one-year-old baby, who arrived here last week. We popped into the playroom, where we met some more children looking very spooky dressed as witches just in time for Halloween! The children were so happy and friendly,

I can’t believe how nervous I was before I arrived, just seeing them playfully bouncing around put me completely at ease. I think it’s always difficult going to any new place as you don’t know what to expect or how everything works. I’m glad that I had no expectations of my volunteer placement and had decided to just ‘go with the flow’ and see what it was like when I arrived.

After dinner I was taken to the local supermarket just a short drive away, so I could stock up on some basic necessities before heading back to the apartment with the other volunteers to hang out and watch a film.

All in all it was a tiring yet really great day – I think I’m going to like volunteering here and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for me!

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