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Throughout the year, the staff at ImmerQi in Beijing plan ‘team building’ activities to help strengthen their family bond. On September 24th we spent the day at a foster home found in the Fang Shan District in western Beijing.

The goal of this team building event was to not only bring us closer together but also to give back to the community around us.  Digital strategy manager, Przemek Drapikowski, arranged for our team to volunteer at a local foster home for visually impaired children, and we were all thrilled to be involved in such an activity.

Upon arrival, Matt Terlunen of the foster home welcomed us and gave us a tour of the training centre.  He explained to us all in great detail how the home operates, what the children learn in the classrooms, and also how the children manage in their day to day lives.  In one of the many recreational rooms we had a chance to communicate and play with several of the children, some of which speak English quite well.

After our brief tour inside, we set out to take on our first task of the day; harvesting corn!  The grounds of the foster home are surrounded by gardens, animal pens, and corn fields.  The harvested corn is fed to the animals and is also sold to local markets.  Our job on this day was to cut the corn stalks by hand, haul it over to an access point, and then husk all the ears. Unlike downtown Beijing, there is much more sunlight found in the Fang Shan District, and today was no exception.  In the beating sun, we harvested corn all morning, and although the Chinese staff may not have shared the same feeling, I was very pleased with my tan.

Following our hard work, we shared a lovely BBQ picnic with Matt and some other volunteers.  All members of the staff contributed to the meal by bringing their own dishes or snacks, and along with Simon Shi and Matt Wong manning the grill we had a variety of meats and plentiful food to accommodate all. After our lunch though, it was back to the grind!

At this point all of the corn stalks had been cut down, but much hauling and husking was still needed to be done.  While most of the ImmerQi team cooperated to finish the husking, others began another more artistic task of cleaning and painting old flower pots.  Another way the foster home collects funds is through its gift shop, in which they sell clothing, souvenirs, and flower pots.  Before sale, the flower pots are in dire need of a good scrubbing, and following this they need to be tastefully decorated with acrylic paints.  Key word here is ‘tastefully’.  Some of us learned our artistic abilities were perhaps lacking, as our pots were scrutinized and sadly discarded.  Why somebody would not want to purchase a pot decorated with random coloured spots and smudges, I just don’t know.

At the end of the day, we not only learned much about the foster home and the cause it represents, but we also grew as a family through our cooperation and hard work.  I’m sure most of the others who participated in this activity would agree with me in saying that this has been the best team building activity thus far, and I’m looking forward to future community projects.

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