Introduction to the Youth Internship Programme

2012-05-09

Nurturing Facilitators

After working for a year as a volunteer teacher, Cen Jin-xiu, who had just graduated from university, found that her interest in public welfare work had grown. She thought that it could provide the direction for her future development. She came across the Small Grants for Youth Internship Programme and decided to apply and was accepted. She then interned with 1KG MORE, an NGO involved mainly in rural education and civic participation. With only a backpack, Jin-xiu traveled to villages in southwest China, visited village schools and established contact and collaboration with grassroot volunteer groups and individuals. In the process, she also established a service network for village schools. At the end of the one-year internship, Jin-xiu stayed on to work with 1KG MORE and fulfilled her aspiration to be an NGO worker. Evaluating the performance of Jin-xiu, An Zhu, who heads 1KG MORE said: “At the beginning, she was introverted and afraid of dealing with people. Now she is an NGO fresher whose leadership capacity has been developed to a certain extent. Over the last one year, Jin-xiu’s development has been huge.”

In the larger society, there are many young people like Jin-xiu. They are looking for opportunities that allow them to continuously explore society and develop themselves, so that they may discover their own goal and position in life. They are also drawn to having closer contact with rural villages, nature and helping disadvantaged communities.

With the objective of encouraging and nurturing the younger generation, the Youth Internship Programme was launched to provide opportunities for young people to put their aspirations into practice. Since 2005, PCD has been working with a number of partners and three schemes of youth internship have been developed. This includes the Rural Talent Development Programme co-organised with Liang Shu-ming Rural Construction Centre in Beijing, the Small Grants for Youth Internship Programme co-organised with the China NPO Network, and the Sichuan Youth Internship Programme launched with a number of NGOs in Sichuan. Through these programmes, young people have been supported to work on rural development and environmental protection issues for one to two years. By adopting different perspectives and issues, the internship programmes have provided young people with opportunities to gain deeper knowledge of the society they work in and explore, learn and grow. In this way, a generation of young people are trained to become a valuable pipeline of resources for NGOs. In the process they have benefited from the opportunity to interact among themselves and achieve greater self-development.

To-date there are about 200 young people who have been trained through the various programmes and platforms. Because of their experience, they are more aware of various social issues. Participating has also helped them build the connection between the individual and society and discover their personal direction and the value of self-development. After completing their internship, many interns continue to take part in various kinds of voluntary work in rural development, environmental protection and education. They strive to grow, work, study hard, and reflect.

In January 2008, PCD organized an exchange activity in Guangdong entitled “Community Building Study Programme”. Community facilitators from all parts of the country and from various organizations came together to share their understanding and experience of community development. Some participants had been youth interns in various internship programmes. Because of their common concern for community building, they met in new circumstances such as this exchange and have since resolved to develop an action network to encourage young people to return to their home villages.

In the future, PCD will work with partner organizations to continue to develop youth internship programmes in Beijing, Sichuan and Guangxi. Youth training mechanisms will be consolidated and improved, and youth training platforms will explore more specific themes. At the same time, we will strengthen the exchange between various programmes, placing emphasis on the long-term development and interaction between young people. In doing so, we aim to develop cross-programme and cross-cycle youth networks.

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