Jessie graduated with a BSc in Anthropology from Brunel University in 2015 and took a year out during her degree course to volunteer in HK
My name is Jessie and I gained work through Just Volunteers! as a full-time volunteer at Mother’s Choice, Hong Kong.
I believe great experiences occur when you immerse yourself in the experience, take challenges and step out of your comfort zone every once in a while. So I tried to get by with my broken Cantonese and ordered noodles wherever and whenever I could till my Cantonese improved and I could order beyond the noodle menu! While you could most definitely get by with English, it was wonderful to experience the small aspects that you encounter in another language like the cultural jokes.
During my leisure time I engaged in slacklining which was organised by a Meet Up group. Before I had arrived in Hong Kong I would watch and idolise videos of people slacklining and highlining on YouTube. Through the group I made close friends with some of the more talented folks and got the most amazing chance to join them set up a highline and also walk it myself!
But it was by no means just about my recreational activities; my role at Mother’s Choice was as a full-time volunteer child care worker for the adoption centre. We looked after babies from 0-2 years old who would be awaiting adoption. My most memorable moment was when I got to present a baby to its parents for the first time. They were incredibly happy, it was absolutely beautiful to witness. Because I was a full-time volunteer, I was given various different roles that other staff or volunteers could not have the opportunity to fulfil, it made me feel important.
The people I worked with were great, it makes so much more of a difference when you work with people you appreciate. I was often invited by the staff and volunteers(who came in by rota on a weekly schedule as opposed to full-time) to dine with them, which made me feel at ease in their warm embrace. While my position was an unpaid volunteer, people valued my endeavours so much that I found that I got many things back in return that were just priceless.
I volunteered for 9 months and found the experience to be extremely fulfilling. I plan to visit Mother’s Choice in 2016 where they have expressly stated that they would be happy for me to come back and volunteer which I am most looking forward to!
[Our volunteers at Mothers Choice volunteers need to commit to working 44 hours per week.]