Guangzhou Foreign Affairs Office (Guangzhou FAO) organized an International Volunteers Salon on May 6th, during which it invited foreign volunteers to share their experiences from working on the front line in different positions during the COVID-19 outbreak and to put forward suggestions on improving public services for expats.
25 volunteers from 15 countries including the U.S., Angola and Italy participated in the salon. Liu Baochun, Director of Guangzhou FAO, and Chen Xiaohui, Head of the Tianhe Publicity Department also presented at the event.
[Photo provided to Newsgd.com]
Kasereka Mafutamingi Muyisa from the D.R. Congo said he is helping the Nansha police station and its immigration department with translation if there are any foreigners encountering language problems there. “I have been a volunteer in Guangzhou since 2011 when I was a student living in Panyu. I think if you are new to the city it’s great to have someone to offer some help and introduce you to the local people.”
Muyisa loves living in Nansha and now owns a tech-company there. “Although Nansha is a relatively new district, it is a good place to live. My kids are going to school there and have Chinese friends. The district is now home to more than 500 foreigners and the number keeps increasing.”
According to the participants, they joined the volunteer community in different approaches. Some of them had contact with the community offices and government departments while others registered via the ‘ i志愿’ platform (wechat id: gd-zyz).
Xu Dahai shares his story during the salon.[Photo provided to Newsgd.com]
Xu Dahai, a Yemeni trader, said he couldn’t figure out how to participate in the beginning but successfully registered online with the help of the officers of Liwan District. He helped conduct temperature checks on people entering Guangzhou on Long Xi Da Dao during the height of the outbreak in February.
“I posted a Wechat moment(朋友圈) of me doing the volunteer work and then my Yemeni friends here came to me and said they are also very interested in the volunteer job. So I formed a WeChat group and helped 26 Yemenis become members of the volunteer community,” said Xu Dahai, “I joined the community because I want to protect my family and the city.”
Alysa Joy Kees is a volunteer in Tianhe District. An American who has grown up in Guangzhou and lived here for 20 years now. She remained in Guangzhou during the outbreak, saying “Guangzhou takes the virus control very seriously. We had to undergo temperature checks and wear masks everywhere.”
When the situation improved, Alysa visited her grandfather in Poland and then went through a long journey back to Guangzhou via Ireland, Russia and England, during which she found huge differences in countries’ epidemic control measures. “I didn’t have my temperature checked once overseas and I rarely saw people wearing masks. But when I arrived in Guangzhou, the staff provided us guidance on testing and quarantine. They could communicate in different languages like English, French and Russian. It was really incredible.”
Having heard about their stories, Liu Baochun said the foreign volunteers have integrated in the community. “Guangzhou has been a trade city open to the world for more than 2000 years. The city is inclusive and welcomes people from other provinces and countries. We are open to different ideas because we all love this city and hope it will be better and better.”
He added Guangzhou FAO has launched a multilingual hotline 960169?which provides interpretation service in English, Japanese and Korean, and welcomes inquires and suggestions from expats.
Chen Xiaohui said Tianhe has a large foreign community as it has gathered businesses and foreign consulates from all over the globe. “We released a pilot plan to develop the international community service center in November 2019, through which we will improve our communication and interaction with foreign residents in the district.”
According to Tianhe District, the Liede Kaixuan Xinshijie (凯旋新世界) and Wushan Street Huijing Xincheng (汇景新城) will be the two pilot communities for the plan as a large percentage of their residents come from overseas.
[Photo provided to Newsgd.com]
Liu Baochun awarded certificates to the foreign volunteers during the salon.
Editor: Keane, Simon