Youngsters Urged to Taste Life Abroad as Volunteers

China should encourage more young people to work as volunteers in foreign countries, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee said on Friday.

The volunteers will "help build a new communication channel between Chinese people and people of other nations," said Xu Feng, who is also vice-president of Shanghai's Youth League.

Xu said the course of international volunteering should be encouraged because it helps to promote universal values and enables people to understand different political systems, ideologies and religions.

International volunteering is also conducive to the personal development of participants, who can broaden their perspectives and obtain precious experiences through working overseas, she said.

Their experiences as working as volunteers could also strengthen their sense of responsibility and team spirit, she said.

China's Young International Volunteer Programme was launched in 2002. It is now coordinated by the Communist Youth League of China and the Chinese Young Volunteers Association.

Chinese young international volunteers work mainly in the sectors of Chinese language teaching, agricultural, Chinese medical therapy, computer skills training, and sports education, among others.

In 2005, 60 young Chinese volunteers went to Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Ethiopia. Eighteen of them were divers participating in an international endeavour to help Thailand in the aftermath of the tsunami. Twelve of the 60 went to Ethiopia.

China's international volunteering programme is still in its early stages.

"It has an enormous room for development in terms of numbers of volunteers, countries they serve and the sectors they work in," Xu said.

She said that the main destinations for Chinese volunteers would be China's neighbouring countries, Africa and Latin America.

The system for the management of the scheme should also be improved to ensure a smooth operation, she said. Specifically, training, recruitment, safety management, and the evaluation of volunteers should also be strengthened, she said.

(China Daily March 11, 2006)

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