A Social Educator’s Experience – by Huang Rongfang

Last year I heard from one of my good friends that twelve French volunteers who were working in China were running a project called Shanghai Young Bakers which was aimed to help sixteen orphans learn bread-baking technique in order to make them stand on their own feet by their abilities and skills. When I found about that the SYB team was looking for a social educator, I decided to join the project without any hesitation. During the interview, they asked me: “How do you think you will do a good job?” and I answered that I had a kind heart and I would not only take care of their studies, but also will be concerned about their living conditions. I would treat them as my own children. Finally, I stood out from three candidates and got the position.

I started with getting to know more about the background of the students. Among the sixteen orphans, six of them come from the Shanghai orphanage, and the remaining ten come from other provinces such as Henan, Anhui, and Shaanxi. I studied the background information of the sixteen students thoroughly, talked with them one by one, and contacted the teachers of Shanghai Welfare Institute to know more about them. I have a daughter, and I needed to take care of another 16 students, which made me nervous for the great responsibility as well as worry for some mistakes I may make. If the mistake is severe, I would definitely feel sorry for the kind-hearted French volunteers. In order to build up a closer relationship with the students, I accompanied them for a whole day at the very beginning. At day time, I learned the theoretical knowledge and the bread-baking technology with them. The students had to go back to Caoyang vocational school in the evening, so I went to school after finishing dinner to make sure they were all back to school facilities where they were now living. At this time, I told them that I was willing to be their good friend, and they could write a weekly journal to “talk” with me. So far, I’ve used up two thick notebooks.

Growing without mother’s love, sometimes would have them make embarrassing mistakes for me so I felt slightly overwhelmed at the beginning. With the strong support from Caoyang vocational school, I worked out relevant regulations to enhance discipline. During my time with them, I realized that these kids do know how to care for others, and they had many virtues to be seen.

As a social educator of the sixteen students, I tried my best to take care of them.

The physical condition of students also touches my heart all the time. No matter whoever gets ill, I will take care of them as my own child. Within 4 months, 4 of them got sick. I accompanied them through their whole treatment and make sure they would get better.

People around me were a bit surprised of my involvement and working attitude. Someone even suggested that I should relax a little bit instead of working so hard. But I do not feel like doing so. Compared with those warmhearted French young volunteers who help the Chinese orphans, I have no reason not to play the role of social educator well. During these 6 months, the students and I have built up a fairly good friendship. No matter what problems they encounter, they would tell me, and they would bring me the bread they had cooked by themselves so we could share. I told the students that I was not just the mother of one child but 17 children and they had to study hard and never give up hope!

I would like to thank Mrs. Tang from the Shanghai Charity Foundation, the leaders and teachers of Caoyang Vocational School for their strong support for my work. Whenever I report my plan to them, they always give me great encouragement, which greatly enhance my confidence.

Last but no the least, may our SYB project become better and better, and grow like a rolling snowball. Join us, make efforts for our SYB! I am determined to do better and better.

Written by HUANG Rongfang, full-time social educator