Vol­un­teer­ing in Beijing in­spired me

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Michail Kosak

When I ar­rived in Beijing, I ex­pected to im­prove my Chi­nese and learn a bit more about Chi­nese cul­ture. While this as­sump­tion came to fruition, I also re­al­ized that I didn’t just ac­quire knowl­edge but also a deep self-re­al­iza­tion about my fu­ture path, and it hap­pened rather un­ex­pect­edly through vol­un­teer­ing.

Let’s go back to last au­tumn when I had only been in Beijing for a cou­ple of weeks and was look­ing for a way to con­trib­ute to other peo­ple and make an im­pact. At that time, I joined an event by an or­ga­ni­za­tion called Startup Grind, a global or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps startup ecosys­tems and en­trepreneurs around the world. Its Beijing chap­ter in­vited two founders from the health sec­tor whose jobs help im­prove peo­ple’s lives.

Amazed by the in­sight of the guests and the at­mos­phere of the event, I de­cided I would like to help out at fu­ture events, and the Startup Grind Beijing team gave me the op­por­tu­nity to be­come a mem­ber of their group. I helped out reg­u­larly, thought of ideas on how to im­prove the net­work­ing be­tween par­tic­i­pants and took on all kind of tasks such as reg­is­tra­tion, mod­er­at­ing and even manag­ing a whole event.

Not too long af­ter I started vol­un­teer­ing for Startup Grind, an­other sur­pris­ing op­por­tu­nity came up.

I had been talk­ing with friends about how dif­fi­cult it was for for­eign stu­dents ar­riv­ing Beijing. My first week in the city was a strug­gle be­cause I didn’t know how to get many things done, such as open­ing a bank ac­count, get­ting WeChat Wal­let on my phone and much more. But af­ter a short pe­riod of time, I man­aged it. At that mo­ment, a friend reached out to me. He was in­ter­ested in cre­at­ing a stu­dent as­so­ci­a­tion to help for­eign stu­dents ar­rive in China with less has­sle and give them a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence while here. So, we cre­ated the Coun­cil for Stu­dents Abroad (CSA), a stu­dent as­so­ci­a­tion for for­eign stu­dents at the Ren­min Univer­sity of China.

We cre­ated a guide­book for for­eign stu­dents, ex­plain­ing how to get most things done and also held many events in the fol­low­ing months, such as wel­come par­ties and Chi­nese cul­ture and ca­reer de­vel­op­ment events where we in­vited pro­fes­sion­als from Beijing to share their knowl­edge with the stu­dents.

In the process of be­ing a vol­un­teer for th­ese two or­ga­ni­za­tions, I re­al­ized how much I love to cre­ate events, con­nect peo­ple and em­power com­mu­ni­ties to in­no­vate and cre­ate im­pact. Be­ing ac­tive in com­mu­nity build­ing, help­ing peo­ple be­come the best ver­sions of them­selves and cre­at­ing spaces for peo­ple to come to­gether and have mean­ing­ful time with each other ful­fils my vi­sion.

As I pre­pare to go back to my home­town of Cologne in Ger­many, I have al­ready found my­self an in­tern­ship where I will do what I am pas­sion­ate about. My part­ing ad­vice for ev­ery­body who also wants to find their pas­sion would be to start vol­un­teer­ing.

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