Live Blog: CapitaLand's International Volunteer Expedition to Zhejiang, East China
Live Blog: CapitaLand's International Volunteer Expedition to Zhejiang, China
From 21 to 23 September 2019, we give you daily updates of what our staff volunteers have been up to at their 27th expedition to CapitaLand Xiecun Hope School!
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Highlights from CapitaLand's 27th International Volunteer Expedition to Zhejiang, China
Each year, CapitaLand’s International Volunteer Expedition (IVE) brings together staff volunteers from around the world to make a difference to the lives of underprivileged children in cities where we operate. Through CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), we made donations to build 28 Hope Schools in China and Vietnam providing education for underprivileged children in rural communities and giving them a hope for the future.
Since 2012, CHF has been providing bursaries, school necessities and RMB400,000 to build a new school block for CapitaLand Xiecun Hope School.
Day 1 (20 September 2019): Arrive in Hangzhou ✈
Volunteers from around the world arrived in Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang, a province in eastern China known for its rich culture, heritage sites, green hills, temples and tea.
Day 2 (21 September 2019): Everyone is a STAR
Starting the day early in the morning, volunteers donned our corporate volunteer vests and began the expedition bearing attitudes of STAR - Service, Teamwork, Appreciate Diversity (acceptance and respect) and Responsibility.
45 volunteers made their way to CapitaLand Xiecun Hope School, about four hours from Hangzhou to Zhejiang’s southwest Songyang county where the school is located. Throughout the afternoon, they painted walls of school facade, classrooms and sorted donations of books and clothing. Volunteers bonded and worked together to make the school a more vibrant place for the children.
07:00 GMT+8: Mr Wang Wen Hao, CapitaLand's City General Manager, Real Estate and Urban Development (Hangzhou), introducing Hangzhou and our properties in the city.
07:45 GMT+8: Ms Lorraine Ng, Head of CapitaLand's Group Organisation Development, inspiring volunteers before setting off.
11:45 GMT+8: Arriving in Songyang county! Green hills are everywhere 😍
12:45 GMT+8: Lunch is a traditional Chinese cuisine of meat, vegetables and soup.
15:00 GMT+8: Briefing and work begins as soon as volunteers arrive at CapitaLand Xiecun Hope School.
16:00 GMT+8: Volunteers strategising on mural painting.
16:00 GMT+8: Volunteers sorting wall stickers to be pasted in the classrooms.
17:00 GMT+8: Mural painting is underway on the school's facade.
18:30 GMT+8: Catching the sunset on the way back after a packed day at the school.
20:00 GMT+8: Unwinding with local Hangzhou cuisine for dinner.
21:00 GMT+8: Volunteers ending the day with a sharing session.
Day 3 (22 September 2019): Building a better tomorrow, today
It was a fine day with clear skies, scenic views and excellent weather. Volunteers looked forward to continue sprucing up the school before the children start classes the next day.
05:45 GMT+8: Rise and shine! ☀
06:00 GMT+8: Breakfast to start the day.
07:00 GMT+8: Off to CapitaLand Xiecun Hope School.
08:00 GMT+8: Volunteers warming up for a busy day ahead at the school.
08:30 GMT+8: Volunteers putting their heart and team spirit to build bookshelves, sort books and beautify the walls and classrooms for the children.
12:00 GMT+8: Volunteers taking a lunch break.
13:00 GMT+8: Back to work - volunteers continuing their tasks.
14:30 GMT+8: Mr Tan Seng Chai, Chief Corporate & People Officer for CapitaLand Group and Executive Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation, sharing about CHF with Chinese and Singapore media (Chinese news radio station Capital 958) whom we’ve invited to join in the expedition.
14:45 GMT+8: Another interview is being conducted with a volunteer.
15:00 GMT+8: Volunteers visiting the homes of 6 children and interacting with their families, bringing along with them 25kg bag of rice, 2 bottles of cooking oil and a study lamp to each home.
17:30 GMT+8: After the visits, volunteers gather at school before returning to the hotel.
19:00 GMT+8: Tucking into dinner.
20:00 GMT+8: Volunteers sharing their personal experiences to wrap up the fruitful day.
Day 4 (23 September 2019): With our heart, we can make a difference
It’s the volunteers' final day of the expedition and they were excited to meet and interact with the children in school after preparing various activities for them. These included giving out school bags and partaking in sports activities in the morning, followed by the Little Architect Programme workshop and Art & Music classes in the afternoon.
05:30 GMT+8: Waking up to this view and grabbing breakfast before heading over to the school.
06:45 GMT+8: Volunteers setting off to the school and promptly preparing for the day’s activities upon arrival.
08:00 GMT+8: Volunteers adding their hand prints on a mural art they completed in a classroom.
08:30 GMT+8: Volunteers giving out school bags to Primary 1 children as part of CHF’s My Schoolbag initiative.
09:00 GMT+8: Children gathering for flag raising ceremony and meeting the volunteers.
09:30 GMT+8: Children playing games prepared by the volunteers.
10:30 GMT+8: Volunteers celebrating birthdays of children born in September, much to their excitement. 🎂
11:00 GMT+8: The CapitaLand Little Architect Programme begins. Volunteers are teaching Primary 1 to 6 children basics of architecture and roles of architects. The children then practised using LEGO-like blocks to build their dream schools.
12:30 GMT+8: Lunch break.
13:30 GMT+8: Children participating in art, music and reading lessons planned by volunteers. Primary 1 and 2 children are attending a JnrLink curriculum, a multi-sensorial story-based language programme designed to help children learn the fundamentals of English and Chinese by infusing story based content, songs, games and mindmaps.
17:00 GMT+8: Volunteers wrapping up the lessons in their respective classes and gather at the courtyard to discuss transport arrangements for the following day before proceeding for dinner.
20:00 GMT+8: Volunteers having a debrief session as they look back at their time spent at the school before resting for the day.
Children showing their appreciation to volunteers with touching messages of gratitude.
Let's hear from our volunteers!
It has been a truly humbling and rewarding experience participating in IVE Zhejiang. Before the expedition, volunteers put in a lot of effort into planning the various activities for the children. When volunteers met each other for the first time, they bonded and continued putting their hearts and minds together as one to run the activities. We could see that the children thoroughly enjoyed sports activities and lessons with volunteers.
“I am touched by the more than 50 staff volunteers who participated in the 27th IVE visiting Xiechun CapitaLand Hope School in Zhejiang, China. It is very spiritually and emotionally fulfilling to personally experiencing the act of kindness, compassion and love to the needy children and families through the collective efforts by the Foundation and the volunteers. Supporting underprivileged children has been our way of giving back to communities, to be a responsible and sustainable enterprise.”
“IVE Zhejiang was a highly rewarding opportunity to enrich the lives of the young people of Songyang County. It also offered the chance to meet my international colleagues and fostered a great appreciation for the company's outreach efforts in China and across the broader region. Thanks again to the CHF team for extending this chance to join the team, it was a truly memorable experience.”
“IVE Zhejiang gave us an opportunity to once again relive our childhood, discover the goodness in us and be with likeminded people who also put their hearts into actions. It's amazing how our belief in "building communities, building people" can unite people from different backgrounds, culture and languages. This IVE, or I belive any IVE, resonates proudly and profoundly the reason why we are doing what we are doing and how we should live our lives. I'm deeply grateful for the journey, stories, experiences and memories that I will bring with me. There may not be another time when we are together again like this, but I believe that the spirit of one group, one family, one community will prevail. Xie xie.”
“It's a great honour to be part of IVE to CapitaLand Xiecun Hope School. I’ve heard about our IVE since I joined CapitaLand and am thrilled to finally have this oppurtunity to be here. The children are lovely, delicate and innocent so we need to be sensitive of their feelings when we talk to them. I also know that most of them have dreams of what they want to do in the future, for e.g pilot, teacher, computer engineer. I hope some of them can dream of becoming an architect in the future after my first architecture introduction class to design more beautiful schools to help others (before the class no one wanted to be an architect). I am proud that CHF has supported 28 Hope Schools like this and I wish more staff can take part in future IVEs as I really enjoyed it!”
“I’ve been keen to attend IVE for a while as I’ve read and heard a lot about it. Finally getting to take part in person was an extremely meaningful experience. It is one thing to read about the 25 Hope Schools we have in China, but quite another to feel in person the warmth and gratitude of the students. Their sunny enthusiasm in spite of tough conditions is inspiring. I leave with a much deeper appreciation of what our Hope Schools mean to local communities, and am heartened by the good work that CHF continues to do! “
“It has been a very memorable experience as I see such a diverse team from different parts of the business, cultural background and countries working together to achieve a common goal - Do our best to make a difference to the children in the Hope School. Everyone is a CapitaLand STAR who embraced our volunteer's values: Service, Teamwork, Appreciate diversity and Respect. I appreciate everyone's efforts and participation. Great friendship!”
“I was very excited to visit China since I have not visited it before. The underprivileged children that I have had the honour to meet and get to know under this programme have taught me that despite being from different countries and cultural backgrounds, we face very similiar challenges. We all strive to ensure that our most important investment, the young children, are given a chance to have a better future. I am heartened to see this effort during my visit here and I hope to be part of such visits in the future, and meet some of my new found young friends again.”
“Being part of IVE Zhejiang was a memorable trip. I had the opportunity to interact with children and was able to contribute to this meaningfully through various activities such as painting the wall mural and attend classes with children. The highlight was the home visit which brought a lot of emotions and deep thoughts for me and my colleagues. The welcome song performance by the children was another beautiful moment that captured my mind. I believe that regardless of the language barrier or any position we are holding, as long as we share the same good purpose, we can make tomorrow better together.”
"This is my first IVE and it has been a truly amazing experience that money can’t buy. It thought me about how thankful and grateful I should be for the life I’m having now and I feel I need to stop complaining. Visiting one of the children’s homes one was the best experience for me. I started to understand how children try to strive their best in doing their school work even though they don’t have proper lighting at home. I realised that the school is their happy place. They appreciate how simple their life is and they are always trying to be happy. One thing I appreciate the most is our fellow volunteers. I feel so comfortable and cared for by the whole team. They really looked after me and they didnt treat me differently based on my religion or race and I truly respect and appreciate it. I will forever remember the 27th batch and keep in touch. I really hope to join many more IVEs in the future. This will definitely not be my last IVE. Thank you.”
“Within these short 3 days, we have formed an unexplainable strong bond with our fellow colleagues even though we come from different countries, race and departments. Each and every one of us came with the same goal in mind, ie. to do our best for this school. This is indeed the true CapitaLand spirit! Having spent the entire Monday with the Primary 6 children, I am truly impressed with how matured and sensible they are. During a music class when we taught them Christmas carols, we asked them what they would wish for from Santa. Instead of material needs, they wished for the well-being of their family members, which is very touching.”
"It was a great experience to participate in CapitaLand's IVE programme. It gave me the opportunity to get to know and interact with collegues from different business units. This is very helpful particularly for me as a new member of the bigger family. It was also an emotionally enriching experience to be part of the team to show care to underprivileged children on a scale like this. The event was very well-organised and I look forward to play a more active role in future CSR activities. "
“I am honored to have participated in this IVE to Zhejiang, which has allowed me to meet my fellow colleagues from all over the world, and give children of CapitaLand Xiecun Hope School hope and love! Before the expedition, my colleagues and I donated some supplies for the children. At the school, I assembled book shelves with my team mates and played games with the children. I was also a trainee teacher for CapitaLand’s Little Architect Programme and other classes. Through the activities, I felt the social responsibility that the company has for our society and that further motivated me to give my all for this expedition. Although the children lack in material things, we could see their happy smiles when they are participating in the activities. Truly inspiring!“