The Trip of a Lifetime

Ana Flood, Staff Writer

As an adopted child, the hope of reconnecting with my past was always a dream I aspired to achieve. So, with the desire to learn about my personal history paired with the passion to help others, I decided to participate in a teen service trip to China. The purpose of the trip was to provide a volunteer opportunity for adopted teens to help orphans with special needs in the social welfare institutes of China. Over two weeks, the tour would include travels to Shanghai, Shangrao, Nanchang, Hangzhou, and Xiang Yin where my orphanage was located. 

  At the first orphanage, the Shangrao Children’s Welfare Institute, my team and I were tasked to decorate the walls with paint and decals, as well as interact with the kids. Each group was able to choose a certain theme to decorate the hallway. My group in particular chose an assortment of desert musical band decals. The humid climate of Shangrao along with the tedious work of attaching the decals to the wall, made working conditions in the orphanage almost unbearable. However, once completed it was extremely gratifying to witness the smiles of pure happiness on the kids’ faces when they saw the newly renovated space. To finish our time in Shangrao, our group donated new toys to the orphanage and spent quality time playing with them. 

On the trip I was fortunate enough to get the chance to visit my orphanage as well as travel to other important places that were vital to my background. Near the county Xiang Yin, I was able to visit my finding place and the hotel where I was united with my parents. When I visited my orphanage, I was able to reconnect with the nannies who took care of me and see special documents that narrated my time at the orphanage. 

 I’m delighted that I took this opportunity to visit China in the form of a service trip because I was fully immersed in the rich and diverse culture that is my ancestry. One critical part of the trip I remember was the bittersweet feeling on my last day. I remember leaving the orphanage ultimately thankful for the experience I was given and appreciating the things in my life that are not available to others. Although what broke my heart the most, was the realization that while I will be able to experience high school, traveling, family vacations, and friendships, these kids will most likely spend their entire lives in an orphanage. 

 What I learned from this experience is the encouraging message to take advantage of any opportunities you are given, and to help others who may not be as fortunate as yourself. It truly opened my eyes to remember the purpose of human life is to serve, to show compassion, and the will to help others.