Volunteering in Shanghai will introduce you to another side of Chinese culture and bring you into direct contact with many facets of the city you may not otherwise experience. You could donate your time working with a local school’s program to educate children of migrant workers, or perhaps spend a day a week teaching English in a local school, or lend a hand at a children’s orphanage. New volunteer and service activities become available to NYU Shanghai students on a regular basis.
You’ll find that the significance of your time in Shanghai will be increased by the interactions you have with locals that lead you to a more intimate understanding of Chinese culture and improved language skills. As a part of the intensive language instruction, each student of the program is assigned a local ECNU teaching assistant (TA) as a tutor. Most TAs are graduate students working to become teachers of Chinese as a foreign language. You’ll meet with your tutor weekly, and throughout the semester he or she will act as an excellent resource for all your questions about Chinese culture and will help you discover new facets of the city through a local’s perspective.
You’ll have the opportunity to participate in a weekend homestay with a local family. This is an excellent way to engage Chinese culture and become a part of the daily life by shopping, chatting and sharing meals in a typical Shanghai household. Two nights a week you’ll be able to meet with local students who want to practice their English in an informal setting called “English Corner”. Students convene in a central outdoor location, under the landmark statue of Chairman Mao on the ECNU campus, to engage in conversation about all kinds of topics. While you help Chinese college students improve their English, you’ll also gain an insight into their lives and country.
Student-initiated clubs and interest groups are also created each semester and facilitated by site staff. At the beginning of each semester you’ll have the opportunity to join a group or even create one of your own. In past semesters groups of students have learned the art of Chinese calligraphy, practiced tai chi and received instruction on the two-string instrument known as an erhu.