The chatting history for this WeChat group “兰苏园汉语角志愿者” is shown below.
————— 2019-08-18 —————
Today, on August 18th, me and my mom went to the Portland Lan Su Garden to volunteer at the Chinese Conversation Table. This will be our fifth time going to volunteer here, and we have started to get used to the flow of things. Even though the experience started off slow, it began to become more interesting.
As we began to adjust to the busy flow, a Romanian family with three children showed up. All three were very interested in calligraphy, but the youngest one intrigued me the most. Even after his older siblings stopped to continue on around the garden, he continued to practice calligraphy while our moms talked. After briefly tuning in, I heard that the family was from Michigan, and that all three siblings had learned Chinese at some point. When the kid stood up to leave, he told us that he really enjoyed calligraphy, and his mom jokingly remarked that she would “put him back in Chinese lessons.”
Along with this, there were surprisingly many people from areas nowhere near Portland who had wandered their way into the garden. Even though they lived far away and had never gone to China or Taiwan, people would come to the garden and try to find out more about the culture that many people in the area immerse themselves in. Among those people were a family from Canada. Even though the parents had never lived in China, they appeared to be very invested in showing their kid to cultures all around the world, taking them to places like the United States and Egypt. Listening to the family talk made me realize just how lucky I was to be able to grow up surrounded by a culture that some people had to fly across an ocean to see.
Looking back to the previous week, I saw that there were several differences. Last week, the majority of people were very interested by the calligraphy that we provided, and some would even try to write with the ink that I brought with me on a piece of paper to take home. However, this week was slightly different. Even though the people were still interested in calligraphy, they weren’t quite as enthusiastic about writing. Instead, several people would watch me writing while my mother helped another group with something more interesting. Contrary to the previous week, people spent a lot more time fidgeting and playing with puzzles, which was indeed quite fun. Even though the experience started off similar, I realized that every day and week at the garden was different.
Despite not being a very hardworking or focused person, I actually really enjoy volunteering at the garden. It’s a tiring job, with no reward other than satisfaction, but satisfaction it provides. Seeing how amazed people are that we have this little slice of culture in our community really brightens my day quite a bit, and even though I’m usually not excited, but I always leave happy and satisfied knowing that I showed other people what our Chinese community and culture represents. Every time I come, from the moment I walk into the garden, I know that I can expect to leave with a smile on my face.
But really, what brightens my day is seeing all the people we help out smile.