深呼吸 – 千回百转烘焙缘 (Shenhuxi – Bakery story)

深呼 (Shenhuxi) – oct 2011

千回百转烘焙缘 – Bakery story

English Translation:

Our magazine introduced the NGO group Shanghai Youth Bakery (SYB), now half a year has passed, three young students who were sent to the French bakery school EFBA has graduated. What is their current situation? How is the team leader of SYB Thomas doing?

For a busy person like Thomas to do charitable events, it requires a spirit of continuous sacrifice. It is not easy to contact Thomas by phone call or email, it is more difficult to arrange an interview with him. There is no assistant in SYB, a lot of nitty-gritty things will be landed on Thomas’ shoulder. In the whole SYB group, it is only him is the full-time volunteer.

As a volunteer, it is not enough only to come out with some good ideas but it is more important to prepare for a long-term commitment. As for dreams or ideals, one should not only be attracted by its halo, once you are on the path to pursue it, the humdrum and hardship usual bring a gap that so big, one is find it is almost beyond acceptance. Everyone has a dream, but most of them are left to be a just thought in flash. Only those who stick to the dream, feet grounded, thus the dream will be possible become true. No matter it is a person or an organization, only when they carries a bright ideal, which be put in a consistent efforts then no matter what the outcome is, it will always is a respectful one.

What kind of volunteer:
What kind of volunteers are up to the requirements, here are the story of volunteer Yang Ming told by Thomas. Yang Ming was graduated from Shanghai Foreign Language University, now has gone to France for further study. Both of his French and English are fluent. He has a clear-mind with good understanding. Apart from his study, he focused on SYB’s work. He never be absent once in SYB’s Monday regular meeting during the two years. Yuan Feng, the classmate of Yang Ming, is one same excellent volunteer, now is also studying in France. Thomas said he missed them a lot. The work content of the volunteers in SYB is not only to make bread and eat it, its daily works are including loads of hands-on details such as to contact partners, to do promotion and to draft contract, the same as a company employee, but the difference is volunteers don’t get paid, so it is more rely on a perons’ sense of responsibility. To maintain the online weibo (microblog) is also a form of volunteer work, it has been running for 6 months, Thomas is satisfied with the weibo promotion so far. (SYB weibo address: http://weibo.com/2026199983. Please follow us.)

Corporate sponsorship:
Carrefour is the SYB’s long-term sponsor; its sponsorship will end in June 2012. Nowadays, many Chinese corporates wants to participate in charity, but how to find a right sponsor object, it has become a challenge for them. SYB is one of the good successful groups for corporate to sponsor. Firstly, SYB is organized and well-planned with a steady and sustainable development. Secondly, it has successfully cultivated young bakers and most of them gained the ability to find a job after graduation and become financially independent. Thirdly, the operational and managerial cost of SYB are low, comparing to the luxuriant expedition of some charitable organizations, SYB is like a Sadu, the purpose is all about serve the charity. The creativity and enthusiastic dedicated to SYB by many young volunteers have helped to minimize all the costs to a reasonable extend.

The Three Musketeers
Thomas was humorously named the three students who went to study in the French bakery school as ‘the three French Musketeers’. We will borrow this funny addressing in the following content.

It is glad to meet these three youngsters again. They said the time studying and living in France was a pleasant experience. The school locates in Aurillac, South France, is a picturesque mountain area covered with greens and flowers. The local people are friendly, and very hospitable to the three Chinese students. The three Musketeers described this area of Aurillac in many way can be compared to the reputed Provence. It is like the local Shanghainese likes to travel to Hangzhou, Parisian likes go to Aurillac as well. The getaway solution of many big city dwellers’ is surprisingly similar.

Since the class was small-scaled, the students got along very well. The Musketeers did not even feel alone during the Chinese Spring festival. They spent the day in a French classmate’s house making dumplings, all the classmates attended, it was a busy day. I was amazed because I thought they might encounter some misfits in living and studying, that would probably make them feel uncomfortable. But I was wrong, all I could see was happy smiling faces. It is obvious that the France trip has enriched their life experience. “The method of making French bread is simple, following the French tradition. Nothing is fancy but is very strict with the ingredients. “Jin Jin said, she loves to bake, she is a sensitive and romantic girl whom likes to walk in the mountain during the breaks, where was dotted with blossom flowers in the spring time and free range cows with the neck bell tingling in the dawn and the dusk. The image is fascinating, “what’s more is that, the Salair cheese is delicious”. Two girls’ figures became rounder later on, the yummy local cheese should take some credits on this.

“if you are lucky to live in Paris when you are young, no matter where you are in the rest of your life, she will be there with you, because Paris is a moving banquet.” – true, why not Paris? The three Musketeers spent one week in Paris. “It is a gorgeous city.” Wang Li is a girl with few words, but she couldn’t help to say the praise. They stayed 5 days in Paris, lived in Cecile’s (one of the co-founders of SYB) mom’s house. The lady is energetic, plays drum, and has her own rock band. She has been to China, so during the staying of the three young Chinese friends, she took out the lanterns she bought in China to welcome her guests. Before the three Musketeers left for China, they spent 2 more days in Paris, but this time, they stayed in a retired professor’s place, who also is a volunteer of SYB, he used to teach in a business school and loves Chinese culture. He has a house rent to the Chinese people only – isn’t it great? In his basement, he stored quite amount of Chinese tea and rice, because the professor takes rice as the staple food, very rare heard in France where the staple food is bread.

The professor hosted a Chinese hotpot for the three Musketeers, the dip was surprisingly made of some genuine Sichuan spice. Even more unexpectedly, the ‘notorious’ stinky Tofu of a local Sichuan brand Wangzhihe was brought to the table – this peculiar professor must be a Chinese in his previous life. After returned from the beautiful and cultural France, the three Musketeers were facing a problem like others returned overseas students – to find a job. But since it is hit major they studied, these three skillful hands were recruited successfully within a short time and soon plunged themselves to the busy works. 1/3 of the time they work in Carrefour, and the other2/3 time are to teach SYB freshmen. They are paid by Carrefour.

A Song For Farewell:
In the hot July, another 18 students graduated on 11th. Thomas was confident that all of them would be easily to find a job. Now 7 of them have been employed, another 7 are still trying, 4 have decided going back to their original charity house or hometown. Bakers are one of the most-needed talents in five-star hotels, one American organic food company has also contacted Thomas. Paul, the owner of this company The Freshery, and also a big fan of our magazine, hopes to recruit suitable staff from SYB. Till this article was released, apart from those whom had gone to the hometowns, the rest have secured a job, it is an encouraging new under such a worrisome employment rate today. It is also a reward towards all the hard workers such as the organizers Thomas, Cecile, Yang Ming and Yuan Feng and all the volunteers. All the students treasured the learning opportunities.

There are more than bakery lessons to offer in SYB, there are a lot of bakery events. The purpose is to help the soon-graduated students to find jobs. Thomas said, the operation of SYB does cost money, but not a large amount. Our goal is to be self-supplied. A German company has organized a bakery class for the staff as a team building activity and achieved a surprisingly good result. At the beginning Thomas concerned that the German company might raise some high requirements that hard to meet due to the handsome budget they spend on this event. But in the end, the staff showed a high quality with simple requests only. All staff finished well based on the assignment SYB arranged. Every participated employee had a good time, even happier than the volunteers themselves. SYB owns their own bakery classroom, is able to provide interesting bakery courses to companies and organizations. All the income will contribute to cover the expenditure for SYB’s students’ tuition and living costs. The ultimate goal of SYB is for the program itself to be able to be self-running and self-supplied by founding its own bakery after the current bakery class obtains it’s a permit. This is a good method, and we wish SYB could achieve this goal. God bless!

@ SYB cordially invites you to join:

  • Welcome all the professionals join as volunteers.
  • Welcome all the corporates to join the customized course.
  • Welcome corporate sponsorship
  • Reserve team building activity in SYB
  • Any sponsorship donated by your corporate, SYB will offer your team a vibrant bakery course. To make breads in a group way like this, it helps to generate the mechanism among the team members and enhance the team spirit.

Contact person: Thomas Méron
Email: tmeron@shanghaiyoungbakers.com
Mobile:159 112 55548

[Afterword] :

After the first introduction of the story of ‘Shanghai Youth Bakery’, we received some calls from our readers to inquire the information of the French bakery school. One of the Three Musketeers, Zhang Zheng Hai did some brief introduction as below:

Tuition is around 6000 Euros, including 7-months study and internship. About the living there, take the three young fellows’ as an instance, if you cook by yourself, the cost will be around 500Euros each month per person including the rent. There is a supermarket Géant Casino, where you could fine the staple food such as noodles or rice, vegetables such as lettuce, arugula, and also the Chinese cabbage and other cabbages are available. Three little fellows were sharing a small apartment located on the 2nd floor of a wooden cottage in a family hotel in Aurillac. There were two rooms, one living room and one kitchen, the average rent of each person was around 150Euros per month.