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Bixuan Zhong is an MA Comparative Literature student who has been volunteering at Talent-Ed in Ark Elvin Academy as a mentor on a weekly basis for two hours.

“There is a saying which I like pretty much: ‘He who gives a rose to others has its fragrance in hand’. It means that when doing someone a favour, it also brings pleasure to me. I am always delighted in offering help to those who are in need by doing voluntary works.”

What do you do as a volunteer?

Being a mentor, I work with a tutor to teach five high school students. Each week we discuss different topics and have various activities together. During the first term, we teach students how to write essays, helping them with their GCSE tasks. During the second term, we introduce to them different career fields, for example law, business, medical care, etc. If students have any questions in class, they can turn to either me or the tutor for help.

What were your first impressions when you started volunteering?

I always find it interesting to volunteer with kids or students since they are energetic, outgoing and passionate. The first time I met them, they were quite excited and were curious about everything about me. They behaved quite well in class and were cooperative in all the activities we had, answering the questions I raised and sharing their opinions with each other.

How do you feel about it now?

It has been nearly half a year since I volunteered here, and I am still very much in love with this work. I have gradually become good friends with both the students and the tutor and we chat with each other after class. Each week, I spend time preparing what I am going to teach, and look forward to meeting them. I also discuss with the tutor how to improve and arrange the things we teach.

What’s the best thing about volunteering?

Being a volunteer, I am always willing to devote myself to the work. I expect nothing specific from the work, but only enjoy offering help to others. Working with students, I am reminded of the wonderful time I had in my own high school. Besides, the education system here is quite different from that in my country China; therefore, I’ve learnt a lot from this voluntary work and have had a precious experience teaching here.

What’s the most challenging thing?

Sometimes we deal with topics which are unfamiliar to me such as law, medical care, and business. Therefore, I need to search for much information online, consult some friends who are familiar with these fields, and talk with the tutor in order to prepare for the class. But at the same time, I study together with the students.

How has volunteering changed you?

I have long dreamt of being a teacher since the efforts a teacher makes really count; education is of such great importance to the next generation. Being a volunteer mentor, I experience how to teach and work with students, which makes me again feel much more certain about the career I am going to pursue and will help provide me with the skills and knowledge I’ll need.

What difference do you feel you’ve made by volunteering?

Among those students, one or two of them were quite shy at the beginning and seldom talked in class. I chatted with them in and after class, and helped them to gain confidence. At present, I think they have improved a lot, and now get involved in the discussions we have in class, which makes me quite happy.  

Would you recommend the project to anyone else?

I would certainly recommend this voluntary works to others; TalentEd offer an interesting and rewarding experience. Helping others is significant especially when you help kids or students. And there are lots of nice tutors who are both teachers and friends to you.

If you feel inspired by Bixuan’s experience, and would like to see what you can do, feel free to visit our directory.