Friday, August 14, 2015

Our Amazing Volunteers (and a Wonderful New Online Resource)

Summer is generally our busy time in terms of volunteers, and we are blessed to have so many amazing people come to serve here.  They all bring their own unique skills and talents, and it's beautiful to see how these can be put into use here, sometimes in ways we couldn't even have imagined or planned.

You'll already have seen Bethany's work with Josiah and Gideon, but during her time when she was not in the foster home, she spent time working on a very special project.  For some time we've been encouraging all of our volunteers coming to familiarize themselves with sign-language before they arrive, so that they are better equipped to communicate with our kids.  We provided some information sheets, but it's pretty difficult to learn signs that way. we have an online video resource!  The new Communication Tools page on our website has video clips for 250 of the most useful signs for communicating with children, helpfully organized by category.  As you can see, our August Summer Staff volunteers have started using it already.

We hope that this resource will help to equip not only our volunteers but also families adopting from New Day (although we recognize that not every family adopting a child in our care will be told by their agency that their child is here).  Sign language is a wonderful tool for communication, even for children that have no hearing difficulties, as it gives a way to express themselves, and in this situation it has the added benefit of bridging a language barrier!

Bethany did an amazing job of teaching sign language while she was here, but without some serious video and video-editing skills, her training would have stopped once she left.  That's where the talents of another volunteer came in...

Alex was here for a month, volunteering with his family.  You may have spotted his son, Erwan, in a recent scrapbook of birthday pictures.  Alex was eager for his family to have an experience of living in China, and to 'give back' to the place that cared for his son, but confided that, before he came, he didn't really know what he'd do here.  As well as playing a part in seeing Austyn hit some exciting new milestones, Alex was able to be a big help to our photographer, Gan Lu.  A number of the photographs you've been seeing on this blog and Facebook over the last month have been ones he's taken.  And all the filming and editing of Bethany's 250 signs?  That was him.

Our volunteers are amazing, and it's a privilege to watch how their time, energy, love, skills and talents get used to bless these precious kids.

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