Dorata Wandzel from Poland has been learning Chinese at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou for three months "to explore Chinese culture and to learn how Chinese people actually live". But she acknowledges that doing voluntary work for the Fortune Global Forum has boosted her learning experience.
"I learnt how to cooperate with Chinese people. It is something that is totally different in China than in Europe. Being a volunteer in China is being part of a huge community. In Europe we are more independent and every volunteer is on their own in what they are doing. But here, everyone works in tandem with the rest of the team."
Wandzel is one of the seven foreign volunteers serving the forum, with the others from the United States, Finland, Austria, India and Benin. Most of them are studying or working in Guangzhou.
They have linguistic advantages and a different mindset and behavior. This makes it easy to learn from one another and also brings diversity to the volunteer group, said Wei Xiaoli, deputy secretary-general of the voluntary service for the forum.
All the 1,200 volunteers received general, position-related, group leader training and took part in rehearsals.
Wandzel, who is majoring in diplomacy in Poland, received the volunteer hiring information on WeChat and applied for a position as she felt that her academic background was connected to the event.
"I decided to take part in this event to challenge myself and to see how a volunteer in China looks like. I wanted to get new experiences, meet new people and train myself in new situations," said Wandzel who has volunteered in Poland for several events.
"I never thought that an event like this would be so huge. It is challenging every day. We have a lot of meetings and a lot of things to learn. I hope after this event, I could say I did my best and because of me, because of other people, we had an awesome event."
One of the biggest takeaways from the experience, Wandzel said, is the opportunity to gain better knowledge about the city. "With the help of other volunteers, probably I would explore parts of the city that I would not do so by myself."
Raisul Hasan, who has studied clinical medicine at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou for four and half years, used to do social work with friends back in Bangladesh and was looking at volunteer opportunities after he came to China.
"It's kind of my hobby. My teacher helped me a lot with Chinese language during training. I learnt how to communicate with people, stage performances, leadership skills and more Chinese.
The training also allows Hasan to know about the city. "I can tell people what is Guangzhou, what is China. The city is amazing. Every day something new is happening and it's very developed."