A small group of Community Services students from TAFE Western have just returned from a remarkable and eye-opening experience in China, where they spent time working and residing at an orphanage in Wujiang.
The unique excursion was part of TAFE Western’s popular Outbound Mobility Program and formed a crucial component of the students’ Certificate IV and Diploma of Community Services courses.
TAFE Western Head Teacher of Community Services Karen Hyland accompanied 10 students to China, where they spent seven days and nights at the Suzhou Wujiang Social Welfare Institute in Wujiang caring for orphans, including those with special needs, and a day volunteering at the Shanghai Baby Home Health Care facility.
“The students spent the whole time with the orphans – volunteering, supporting and helping care for them through interactive games, tutoring, helping them with their homework and teaching them English,” Ms Hyland said.
“The purpose of this was to give the students a really valuable cultural experience, at the same time helping them learn and understand the importance of diversity. It was a really rewarding experience for everyone involved.”
This was a sentiment shared by Orange students Sam Sutton and Emma Carrall, who both fell in love with the children and adults at the orphanage.
“The time we spent at the orphanage was definitely the highlight for me. The experience was amazing, it wasn’t work for me but rather time spent with friends,” Sam said.
“Overall, it blew my expectations out of the water. I was so happy throughout the whole trip thanks to my classmates, interpreters and especially the kids we looked after. I fell in love with the atmosphere and positivity of the orphanage.”
Emma added, “Visiting the orphanage was a life-changing experience. It has made me and I’m sure others in our group start to appreciate the little things in life that we took for granted before,” she said.
“The experience was very rewarding and I have learnt so much from my time in China both on an academic and personal level.”
Ms Hyland said the students had exceeded all expectations and made a lasting impression on orphans and staff at Suzhou Wujiang Social Welfare Institute in Wujiang and Shanghai Baby Home Health Care.
“The TAFE students stood out because they were really productive and proactive and very popular with the children,” she said.
“As a teacher, to watch our students develop a really caring and understanding approach towards the children and apply the knowledge and skills they’ve been learning was very rewarding.”
** Participants in China pictured are (Back) Sam Sutton, Di Smith, Karen Hyland, Emma Carrall, Frankie Rutherford, Fiona Mackin and Emily Barlow; (Front) Hugh Bligh, Julie Luckman, Brooke Robinson and Tina Bielaczek.