In the summer of 2006, soon after Pei Mei and Lin Sumei graduated from the NIT School of International Economics and Trade as members of Class 023, they decided to join the national “Volunteer West” program and to undertake one year of volunteer service in the less-developed areas of western China. During this year, the two girls would deepen their bond of friendship by overcoming difficulties as well as enjoying occasional triumphs together.
At the time, their decision caused a good deal of misunderstanding and opposition from family and friends. However, despite the doubts of those nearest and dearest them, they held fast to their dream to serve society by participating in this volunteer program.
When they arrived in Sichuan, they performed daily tasks and also spent time teaching and caring for underprivileged students. Their experiences moved Pei and Lin deeply. For instance, one third-year elementary school student insisted on studying each day even though he was suffering intense pain from bone cancer. What they saw and felt touched their souls and encouraged them to do more. To this effect, they set up an Internet website called “Tomorrow Light” to help organize local volunteers in collecting supplies. Pei Mei remarked, “If we hadnt joined this program, we would never have become so close to these people. They really needed us, and we will remember them always.”
The two girls never flinched in spite of the harsh living conditions and other difficulties. Brave and dedicated, they just kept moving forward and making unremitting efforts together with other volunteers.
At the end of their term of service, Pei Mei was honored as an Outstanding Volunteer of Leshan city and of Zhejiang province. Her final contribution was to give a series of lectures at various locations in Sichuan province. Lin Sumei also received high praise for her work. Now, theyve both moved on to new challenges, but they often think back on their 12 months of volunteer work. They remain appreciative of all they learned and experienced at their Alma Mater, and they will always treasure their many memories of the people they encountered in the West.
Zhang Lubin, Zhang Xiaomei, Zhu Xinxin and Zhu Yanqun