The New Zealand China Friendship Society and this website focuses on improving the connection between New Zealand and China. One way to do this is to learn more about each other. It would be great if NZCFS members, as well as people who are interested in joining the NZCFS who are in New Zealand or China, could share some details about their experiences. For those born in New Zealand, you could share why you want to learn about China, your experiences in China, be it study, work or travel, and say what you want to learn. For those born in China, why do you want to know more about New Zealand, what do you want to learn about it and your experiences here (work, study, travel).
This could be a good way to get more out of this organisation, as well as learn more about the people interested, so we can make the organisation more relevant to the people who join it.
I will start off the NZCFS member profiles as an example. My name is Kirk McDowall and I first went to Beijing when I was five years old. When I was young my family lived and travelled around Asia, so I’ve always been interested in this region. After finishing my degree at Victoria University, I decided to do a Master’s Degree in Development Studies. As a result, I wanted to gain more practical work experience so I did a couple volunteer internships in China. I first went to Guangzhou on an exchange with AIESEC (www.aiesec.org), the world’s largest student run organisation, that is involved in creating internships around the globe for university students. It is currently located in 187 countries and is based in numerous universities in China and New Zealand. I was involved in an environmental protection awareness project for two months at AIESEC GDUFS (Guangdong University of Foreign Studies) at the end of 2011, which involved giving presentations to local schools. I had an amazing time and the people there were very friendly. After this I did a second internship in Shanghai at the AIESEC based at Fudan University for two more months, and was involved in cultural exchange and teaching English. Both internships were great and I managed to do some travelling around the country as well.
I was lucky enough to be able to research volunteer tourism projects for my thesis in Guangzhou, so I went back to the city for a further two months in the middle in 2013. My thesis focused on the expectations and outcomes of the foreign volunteers, sending organisation and host community involved in these type of projects. I am currently learning Chinese and hope to visit China in the near future – there are still many places that I still want to go.
I would like to learn more about China and be able to connect with the people, and I think joining this organisation is one way to be able to do this. Although I have had limited experiences in China, I still keep in contact with many friends over there, so I don’t feel that distant from the country. Finally, by being able to be involved in the local Chinese community in Wellington, it can mean I can gain a greater understanding of the two countries, and have a clearer idea of what I want to do in the future.