Opinion / Zhu Yuan

Importance of kids being volunteers

By Zhu Yuan (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-06 08:09

Importance of kids being volunteers

We have a saying to the effect that service you do to others is the payment you make for your space in life. It is easy to understand, but not easy to put into practice. It was important to remind ourselves of this saying when we observed International Volunteer Day on Wednesday.

In the past three decades, volunteer activities and organizations have witnessed great progress. The total number of registered young volunteers was more than 30 million at the end of 2011, and it is estimated that the total number of volunteers may have reached more than 60 million nationwide. In Beijing alone, there are 1.7 million registered volunteers. The number of volunteers in the cultural sector in Beijing has reached 300,000, according to a meeting on Tuesday.

Promoting volunteer activities is of unique importance to the youth in this country, as it can be an antidote to the downside of the family planning policy, whereby parents and grandparents bestow too much attention and love on their "little emperors", making many of the youngsters too self-centered to know the joys of sharing and doing something for others. It is far too common for many senior high school graduates to be accompanied by their parents when they go to university, although they should be independent at the threshold of adulthood.

For such young students, being a volunteer can teach them many things that they would otherwise never learn. A 14-year-old survivor of the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 offered to lend a hand in a hospital in the city of Shifang, Sichuan province, despite the fact that she was frightened of the dead bodies and the people who had lost their arms or legs. She fought hard to bring her fear under control and get used to helping in the hospital.

The experience of being a volunteer can also be an antidote to the tendency of many people to consider fame and money as the only goals in life. There is nothing wrong with people wanting money, but money should not become the be-all and end-all of life, to be attained by whatever means necessary.

University graduate Xu Benyu, who went to a village in a poverty-stricken county of Guizhou province to conduct a social survey, decided to stay and teach in a village school when the destitution of the village kids and their eagerness to learn touched his heart. He could have continued his studies at Wuhan University and landed a decent job. But he could not forget the help he had received when he first entered university and he didn't even have a cotton-padded coat to keep himself warm.

Money is important to him, but not that important compared with extending a helping hand to the kids who needed his help.

We still have the example of Lei Feng to encourage people to be altruistic. Now when an increasing number of volunteers can be organized into a strong force to help those in need or promote the completion of a particular work that has a long-lasting effect in arousing people's concern for a social cause, the role volunteers and such non-governmental organizations play should never be underestimated.

Volunteer activities should be integrated into schools in such a way that the number of such activities students have taken part in or the hours of voluntary work they have done are taken into consideration, along with the scores of their college entrance exams, when they are enrolled into universities.

For the healthy development of youngsters and the healthy progress of society, more importance needs to be attached to the volunteer spirit and to encouraging more social organizations and individuals to participate in such activities.

The more volunteer activities and more people that participate, the greater the force there will be to build a better society. That will then inspire more people to work as volunteers. This is the cycle of virtue we need.

The author is a senior writer with China Daily. E-mail: zhuyuan@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 12/06/2012 page8)

Most Viewed Today's Top News