This entry, which was London regional winner, is by James Xi Xu, who comes from China and studies at University College London.
James was the overall winner of the competition.
Just have a favour to ask. When you send the flowers that you helped me order for my mom’s birthday on the 7th Feb, could you also translate the letter below and read it to her please? Thank you so much. A huge dinner will be on me when I go back home this summer
Happy Birthday and Happy New Year! I know dad and you are celebrating the second Chinese New Year without me being at home, but this year I got MANY presents for you! Well, sort of, haha. I could have bought some real gifts like these flowers, but I am sure you will be more happy to receive these intangible presents. Here they go!
Present One: I was recently awarded the ‘Winner of the Spirit Award for London’ for my all round commitment for volunteering and embodying the spirit of volunteering!!! As an international student, I was really surprised that they could award me that title and called me a local hero in Euston. You may wonder why me?
As I told you, I really hope to make ‘helping others to live in a better world’ as my career goal in the future. When I came to UK, I found the third sector (NGOs) is really a big thing. So I began to get involved into volunteering to help people. As the Volunteering Officer, I helped many students set up their own volunteering projects and encourage UCL students to do something good to the communities. With a few friends, we also raised £500 for Haiti Earthquake last Feburary and £450 for Pakistan Flood this winter. I also set up a project called £10 Challenge to encourage people around me to do something positive with £10. I am also a transition mentor to help first year students and did many one-off volunteerings as well. I guess that’s why they awarded me that prize, hah.
Present Two: I am famous now!!! You can see me on BBC now. There was an article about my experience on Olympic volunteering on BBC website.
It was a time when I helped Volunteering England promote volunteering in a nationwide campaign. I was also interviewed by Study London (London Higher Ltd) to tell the students all over the world why I would recommend London as a good place for international students. Last summer, as the only student, I even joined the five UCL provosts in a university presentation to Mayor of Camden and other councillors. I’ve never thought about being famous in London. Amazing, isn’t it?
Present Three: I am going to help the London Olympic Organising Committee to select volunteers!!! As I told you, I became a trailblazer volunteer to support the Accreditation management team last summer and now I am also a Selection Event Volunteer to interview and select Games-time volunteers. My Olympic journey doesn’t end her- I am advising LOCOG on their HR training programme for 125,000 staff and volunteers as a member of student advisory group. Very very exiciting stuff to do! I feel really lucky to choose London.
Want more presents? Hah, of course! Present Four is the happiness and experience I gained through my two voluntary internships over the summer. I interned as a London 2012 Games-time Project Officer at British Red Cross, when I led three projects that are of significant importance to BRC’s work to show a better London in 2012 to the people from different counties. In addition, I became a qualified first aider there and I even helped two people in the street the other day. At the same time, I volunteered as the Mentoring Coordinator at UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entreprenuers. It feels great to help social entrepreneurs by introducing them to business mentors and I met many inspiring people then. A very priceless summer for me!
I know you are worrying about my studies now as I am doing so much extra activities. However, my Present Five is my academic achievement! Despite the great difficulty to study Italian from English, I recevied a first class on my first year- 75 and with the average mark on my management modules over 80! I would say a busy life forced me to focus on study whenver and wherever possible and most importantly, I really enjoy my course!
I know you want to hear more but these are really what I got since I came here a year ago, hah. Despite all the challenges like self-cooking, washing dishes, going shopping, being homesick and working part-time etc, I never regret being here at all. Thank you so much for sending me to London. My life has been more meaningful and exiciting since I am in UK. All of these was a big satisfaction for me and I am sure you are feeling the same now
After you read this letter, I just hope that you will think something like ‘Um…I am kind of proud of my son’ and then you would feel very happy. That’s all my five presents are about! Yes, I am good and happy here. Don’t worry about me!
Happy Birthday, Mom. Happy New Year, Mom and Dad!
Love you and miss you both.