DAY 5 – Feature Blog Post for May 12, 2012: Our Very Own Great Wall in China

By: Stephanie Chan

On our first day in Xi’an, we headed straight to the Children’s Village and got straight to work on one of our major objectives of the international service project in China. The contingent had the honour of designing and painting a significant mural for the backdrop of the Village’s service hall. As the designer of the mural, today I blog to you from a personal perspective. Though I could simply post pictures and illustrate a successfully executed project, this is, actually, a post about the many beautiful and inspiring layers of team work, project management, and leadership elements that shine through from our contingent.


There was a lot of pressure walking into the project because of the value we understood it to have for the children and the village. The mural is situated in their assembly hall–a place for many important ceremonies. Also, a beautiful and colourful mural in the humble living condition of the children truly adds value to their everyday lives. This gesture, if successful, goes a long way for the children. The pressure was apparent even in the days leading up to our departure date from Vancouver. Our mural team was frantically solidifying the strategy and logistics details, afraid that if we did not have a perfect plan that maximized the short sixteen hours available to us, we might be caught in the never-ending storm of painting in Xi’an for years to come.


However, it felt like the skies cleared when our worries were washed away after the first couple hours. Each person’s concentration contributed to the rush of momentum I could feel radiating off the wall. We had extra help from some new friends who happened to be visiting the village at the same time as our contingent. Local student volunteers from the Xi’an Polytechnic University got paired up with a partner and they blended in with our team beautifully.


On our second day, we had to ask ourselves if it was possible to shift our deadline to the end of this day (with five hours remaining) without compromising our quality of work. The other choice was to continue on with a deadline of three days of work to achieve the same standard of quality. Did we need the full sixteen hours available to us? Or could we free up a day for other adventures in China? At first, I was skeptical we could finish in the remaining five hours, but the beautiful thing about the group is we know the right questions to ask to make effective decisions. Leaders emerged from the group to differentiate between “needs” and “wants” of the project, and we re-grouped and re-distributed labour force. Alas, we set out, full steam ahead, and finished the project in a record breaking eleven hours.


While sitting in exhaustion and admiring our handiwork, my fellow group member and friend, Nicole, took the words out of my mind when she said that she felt that the contingent is such a special group of young people who each have special hidden talents or skills. It is a constant thing of beauty to see people step up in different situations and tap into their expertise to shine. And the best thing about this is that we take all those expertises and come together to create a powerful synergy. To me, this is something to draw inspiration from–whether it be to perfect my own speciality, or to discover more in others. I feel so lucky to be a part of such a bright and forward-moving team.


We felt very happy that Madame Gao from the Hong Kong-Shaanxi Youth Development Foundation recognized these qualities in our group. Especially based on the fact that we finished one day ahead of schedule, she was especially impressed with our efficiency and team work. She expressed we were the most professional and disciplined team that has ever painted a mural at their village. Thank you, Madame Gao, for the generous complement. We feel that we are not professionals, but just young adults who genuinely want to make a true difference in the world.


I cannot begin to describe the honour and pleasure it was to design the mural. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity and will always remember the new friends I made along the way. The support I received from all the team members who came to help was amazing, and I cannot thank you enough.

After an estimated 450 hours of time spent towards planning and executing the mural project, Our Great Wall of China is finally complete.



You can read all of our articles by following the links below!

Day 4 – The Children’s Village
Day 4 – Some Help from New Friends
Day 4 – Learning by Playing
Day 5 – Dancing and Singing with the Children
Day 5 – Children’s Village:  Food for Thought
Day 5 Feature –  Our Very Own Great Wall in China


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