Hui joined our Youth Services programme in Changsha when she was 16 years old. She was a very shy girl who preferred to be alone.
Each day, the children gathered in the activity room to play and socialize. But not Hui. Instead, Hui would reach for one of the books from the bookcase and would make her way to the couch in the far corner of the room. She sat there quietly, day after day, reading her book. The only time she ever looked up was if other children were too noisy or disruptive.
Each month, during our group meeting, Hui became quite anxious when it was her turn to speak in front of the group. She would fumble and look quite scared.
But slowly, with time, I noticed that Hui was getting more comfortable. She started to greet me in the morning and tell me stories about her life. One day, she asked me if I could help her get an English tutor. I said yes of course, and we arranged for this.
Hui also started joining the group activities, but not just as a participant, as a leader! She planned activities for the younger children and devised strategies to encourage them to participate.
For example, she planned a story telling game. If children were too shy to tell a story out loud to their friends, they had to pick a piece of paper from a box she had made. Each paper contained a chore that needed to be done. The children had a blast and loved the chores as much as the game!
I was very impressed by her leadership abilities. I asked her:
“Hui, where did you learn to plan activities like this?”
“From my teacher,” she answered.
And I realized that all this time, the shy girl in the corner had not only been reading but watching. She was imitating us!
I am very proud of Hui and how far she has come! She is a natural leader and she inspires her peers. She is leading by example!
By Xu Jing, Field Trainer