Monday, a group of us USAC international students walked over to the Tenth People’s Memorial Hospital to get a tour and learn about the ways of the Chinese dental clinic. Yesterday, I met with the pleasant volunteer coordinator Lotte, from the Netherlands. I, along with the other two students who showed up, was instantly met with hospitality by the staff. We were unexpectedly served a delicious Chinese boxed lunch and tea. We had the chance to converse with the executive chief, Dr. Wang. After discussing what volunteering would look like, I walked away from the dental clinic eager and enthusiastic to begin volunteering as soon as possible. Today was my first day as a volunteer and I can already say that the opportunities offered at the hospital are endless. The employees are encouraged to have a basic knowledge of the English language so services can be easily catered to foreigners. What I found especially intriguing is that the hospital encourages a general international presence, in employees, patients and volunteers. Given that I want to improve on my Chinese and one day become fluent, my tasks were beneficial to my learning. I am a firm believer that first-hand interactions are what truly help one learn a new language.
I had the opportunity to sit in and observe a patient get her wisdom teeth removed. While doing so, I worked on translating a brochure about the removal of wisdom teeth, from Chinese to English. This will be beneficial for foreigners to understand on their visits to the clinic. Meanwhile, I was free to ask the doctor and/or nurse any questions I had, which was beneficial to the language learning and familiarizing on both ends. Because my Chinese vocabulary is still expanding, the process of translating was respectively slow. However, I was able to successfully translate a portion to comprehensive English. After about two hours of working, the international student volunteers gathered to share ideas and reflections. I was curious to know about the rehabilitation/physical therapy department, how popular that department is in China. The staff member I spoke with, Ms. Ann informed me of the Western Department and Chinese Traditional Medicine “TCM”, where physical healing, rehabilitation, and the like take place. She was willing with enthusiasm to talk to the department heads so I could come observe and compare the two clinics. The idea of returning back home to the United States with new, applicable perspective excites me.
My interactions and experiences with the hospital employees from touring, to discussing volunteer logistics, to volunteering itself have affirmed my belief that Chinese culture is hospitable and welcoming of foreigners who want to contribute their skills and learn from the culture. I am looking forward to learning more about Chinese medical departments, while expanding my language skills!