Volunteering in Beijing inspired me
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.