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African youths showcase volunteer spirit in China


SHIJIAZHUANG - Tambe Bawack, a 28-year-old student from Cameroon believed being a volunteer in China helped him integrate with the society and enriched his life substantially.

"I started volunteer service right after I joined Hebei University of Science and Technology in September, 2004. I met a lot of people and tried to make myself useful. This is a process of learning," he said.

Bawack's experience was shared by Kaleb from Ethiopia, who came to study in Hebei University of Economics and Business in 2003. The two were in almost every volunteer service activities organized by the school, including tree-planting, environment protection, caring for the elderly in nurseries, teaching English to rural pupils, and so on.

During the biannual China Wuqiao International Circus Festival held in Hebei Province, north China, in October of 2005, both Tambe and Kaleb applied to work as volunteers in the festival.

"In the first place, we were assigned with some easy work because we are the only foreigners in the volunteers team. But we decided to be equal to our Chinese team members," Tambe Bawack said in virtually flawless Chinese.

"We worked as ushers and guides at the entrance of the venue, standing six to seven hours a day. But we didn't have any complain," he said.

Because of their unrelenting efforts, they became full members of Hebei Youth Volunteers Association in October, 2005, which means they were the first foreigners registered as volunteers in China.

"We are so thrilled to be accepted by the volunteers association. We both thought this a rare honor," said Kaleb.

"We have sweated in the work we did, but we made a lot of friends. We are just like local people in Hebei Province, and our Chinese language ability has improved rapidly," he said.

Their volunteer spirit didn't wane even if the studies became more intense after entering advanced years. In 2006, they were given honors of "100 Excellent Youth Volunteers in China" in the same year.

Tambe has travelled to major Chinese cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Hangzhou as he planned to stay in China doing international trade after graduation.

Kaleb thinks differently. "I will go back and serve my country. But I believe wherever I am and whatever skin color I have, I will see the world as a smaller, friendlier place. Isn't the Beijing Olympics logo 'One world, One dream'?" he said. (Published on Dec 25, 2007)