UN Volunteers celebrate three decades in China

By Pierre CHEN
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, December 2, 2011
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This year marks both the 30th anniversary since the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) undertook its first project in China, and the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10).

A cake specially made for the commemoration of United Nations Volunteers (UNV) is presented to the guests at the ceremony at the UN headquarters in China in Beijing on December 1, 2011 [Pierre Chen / China.org.cn] 

Speaking at the anniversary celebration held in Beijing on December 1, Gao Ling, UNV's National Coordinator in China, described UNV's partnership with China as "steady and fruitful."

Since starting operations in China in 1981, UNV has had more than 130 national and 190 international volunteers. In addition, some 200 Chinese volunteers have undertaken overseas assignments.

Meng Zhaorui, Programme Manager, with Food and Agriculture of the UN was once an international UN Volunteer in Cambodia, where she worked as an education specialist alongside the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Her primary task was teaching English to members of the Cambodian Parliament as they prepared to host the Asia Inter-Parliamentary General Assembly in 2011.

Meng described the thrill of seeing her efforts rewarded. "It's such a thrill to hear those congressmen deliver speeches in English for the first time in their life," she said.

She added that volunteerism gives people around the world the opportunity to build the kind of hope, trust, and cooperation that everyone wishes to see in the future. "Volunteering has given me a sense of professionalism, sincerity and understanding towards the power of volunteerism," she said.

Another great achievement of UNV was the help it provided in training 7,500 volunteer managers before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. These volunteer managers were subsequently able to coordinate the efforts of 1.7 million Olympic volunteers and contributed to the success of the Games.

Over the past three decades, the cooperation between UNV and China has diversified from language teaching projects to helping China build a low-carbon society, as well as enabling China to generate sustainable volunteer action for development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Napoleon Navarro, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Deputy Country Director, hailed the UNV's work in China. He also described voluntary work as "the secret of staying young forever."

Navarro commented that volunteerism has an important part to play in China, in order to increase China's contribution to global development through the dissemination of its numerous achievements in this field.

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