One of my favorite things about working for Disney English is the family we are able to build as magic makers living abroad. Some of my best friends are trainers that teach in the classrooms beside mine. We work together, we often live together, and we travel together. As Disney English Foreign Trainers, we work hard to build our community, and that work extends beyond our professional relationships and social lives. For me, spending a Wednesday with my friends and Disney VoluntEARs is a day off well spent.
I am lucky enough to be a member of my region’s Disney VoluntEARs Committee, a group of foreign and local Cast Members who coordinate philanthropic opportunities throughout Shanghai. Throughout the school year, we organize a series of themed Clubhouse Shows to deliver at nearby migrant schools. These schools are designed for children whose parents have to commute long distances for less than ideal work hours and pay. Often times, these parents have trouble providing care for their children during these hours, which is especially difficult throughout the summer break. This summer, a Shanghai-based nonprofit organization worked to provide a Summer Camp for these children, and the Disney English VoluntEARs brought a little bit of Disney to their experience.
At Disney English, many of our students are drawn to the lessons that include their favorite movies or characters, so I was so excited when I found out I was able to establish the curriculum for our VoluntEARs Summer Camp Program with my best friend and fellow Foreign Trainer, Kate. As the coordinators for our July event, Kate and I were tasked with choosing themes, designing the content and organizing the logistics of the event. While I was busy organizing our VoluntEARs information, Kate was meticulously cutting out and preparing crafts for our learners to make upon our visit.
When our team arrived at the learning space, we were flooded with attention. Some of the learners recognized us from the month prior, and others were so excited to meet us that they left their lunches to greet us. We split into four teams and our learners wore their team badges with pride, and off we went! Activities ensued, including our favorite Disney English songs and dances, rotating stations with various games and challenges, Mickey Mouse Shorts for downtime and a plethora of crafts. By the end of our three-hour extravaganza, our learners had made their own Sugar Rush Racers and designed Baymax hand puppets. They learned their colors, different exercise commands, and they all were able to tell us what they want to be when they grow up. Our learners filled the day with so many smiles and energy that goes unmatched.
The hardest part of any day with Disney VoluntEARs is neither the preparation for an event, nor the execution of a fun-filled day, but the goodbye that inevitably comes at the end. While we are often thanked by the caretakers at the schools we visit for having an impact on their learner’s lives, I am the one who should give thanks for the number of days I’ve been able to spend learning about these children, their culture, and their love for all things Disney. VoluntEARs has given me the opportunity to touch the lives of children who don’t often get this kind of pixie dust sprinkled and has touched my own life by giving me a tightly knit family of Cast Members who wants to change the world with me.
Foreign Trainer, Shanghai