Never forget to love
Transform project in Patras, Greece,
5thMay – 14thJune 2019
By Jingjing Jiang
“I was so happy to share my culture with them and show the diversity.”
From the Netherlands to Greece – after 4 hours flight plus 3,5 hours by bus I arrived at my destination: Patras! The third biggest city in Greece, located in the north-west. It was smaller than I expected, but with very beautiful sea and mountain views. In the late afternoon, you can always grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the sun setting into the mountain.
My project ‘Transform’ aims to prevent cultural and social discrimination, and present different cultures and traditions to little kids in Greece. I worked for a kindergarten and assisted the teachers. The kids were around 4-5 years old. I remember the first day I went to the class, they were so shy to see a new face from another country. But they all have such warm and shinning smiles that can melt your heart. I was trying to talk to them in English and be close to them. Surprisingly, one kid told the teacher that I had a very warm smile! I was so touched and happy about it!
“That is the love kids have and that is the love kids teach you: pure and genuine.”
I joined the daily routine with all the kids, singing, dancing and playing games. I fell in love with the Greek greeting immediately: people kiss your cheek and hug you all the time. That helped me in being close to the kids very quickly! Every day, when I opened the door, the kids were happily running to me, hugging me, kissing me and calling me Miss Jing (in Greek). That is the love kids have and that is the love kids teach you: pure and genuine.
Sharing my Chinese culture
It was so much fun to show my Chinese culture: the new year tradition, the Chinese zodiac system, daily life, etc. I will never forget the kids’ happy faces and laughs. I remember that when I was showing the dragon dance video to the kids, which they never watched before, the kids and the teacher were so excited! They kept clapping and asked to watch it over and over again. I was so happy to share my culture with them and show the diversity.
On saying goodbye
One and a half months is short, and it is never easy to say goodbye. The teacher asked the kids to paint for me and when the teacher gave me the present they prepared, I couldn’t stop crying. So did the teacher. Kids came up to hug me and said goodbye. I’ll probably never meet them again, their smiles, cute faces, and warm hearts…
Wish all of them to grow up happily and healthily.
The volunteering experience gave me a chance to explore this beautiful country, warm-hearted people, and also helped me to explore myself. Never forget to love, with your heart and eyes.
This post was written by AIESEC in the Netherlands. We offer international voluntary projects and professional internships with the aim of developing leadership in youth.