By: Xiaoman Zhu, Work and Travel Summer 2014 Participant

Xiaoman Zhu is a Work and Travel participant from China who works at the White Castle in Whitehall, Pennsylvania.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hBRLs48LNc&w=420&h=315]

 

But now, through volunteering around Pennsylvania, I know much more about myself and the nature of our lives.

This is my first year coming to the USA, and also my first time participating in a volunteer program. Before I came here, I seldom paid attention to nonprofit projects, even when I had a lot of free time. I didn’t know how to kill time to make life more colorful and meaningful. But now, through volunteering around Pennsylvania, I know much more about myself and the nature of our lives.

Next, I want to talk about some of my experiences volunteering. My first volunteering chance fell on me when I was walking to work. On the way, I often saw a lot of trash everywhere, which attracted a lot of flies and made the environment much worse. Therefore, my friend Lulu and I decided to pick up the trash when we were off of work. It was not a hard work, but it was also not so easy. Sometimes we had to walk into the middle of the road or across barriers to reach the waste. And unluckily, we never remembered to take the gloves. However, after we had finished the work, we felt like everything was so different. The lawn was covered with green -without any plastic bags or bottles. The side of the road was clean without cigarette ends. Our community was tidy without so much trash.

 

The third time, I went to a blueberry festival to prepare food and drinks for visitors. I learned how to make blueberry/strawberry lemonade in a simple way, which I had never tried in China. I can’t wait to go back to make this for my family and friends. At the beginning, I forgot to wear gloves, so the whole day my palms and fingers were dyed blue from the blueberry juice; it looked very funny. During my half hour break, I saw a lot of the staff around the large farm where the festival was held. Some of the kids were riding horses; some people were lying down on the lawn; some were visiting the garden full of plants and flowers; some were eating and drinking, talking, and laughing. I enjoyed the day with my friend a lot, and we were so happy to experience such a wonderful day!

My fourth experience was with my Chinese friends at the Five Sense Garden in Harrisburg. It is a public garden where people can walk, jog, and enjoy a relaxing bicycle ride on several paths. It is managed by a 91-year-old grandma, who is very nice and looks good and younger than her real age. I had gone there three times and had worked with a 73-year-old grandpa, who is also a volunteer at the garden and has worked there for 11 years. Because I am a short girl, haha, most of time I helped to weed around the roots of the trees and also in the smaller garden to make it beautiful. I really like to work close to nature and to breathe the fresh air. I also found a very clean lake beside the garden; the water is cool and makes people comfortable in a hot summer. I have enjoyed this quiet and beautiful place.

Soon I will go back to China. I hope to get more chances to do volunteer work helping people in need or beautifying the environment. Through these experiences, I have made a lot of friends, both Chinese and American, and have had a good time with them. And I also realized one thing; sometimes people choose to do nonprofit work, not for reputation, but for a spirit and belief that lets them be benevolent, generous, and grateful. In life, people do not always get something from others or society because they don’t give or share “love” with the people around them. Enjoy your life, be kind to yourself and to others, and be friendly to the environment!

In life, people do not always get something from others or society because they don’t give or share “love” with the people around them. Enjoy your life, be kind to yourself and to others, and be friendly to the environment!