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A NEVER-ENDING JOURNEY

2016-05-31 来源:未知 浏览量:68

What began as an admittedly self-serving attempt to shore up my college applications, turned into an eye-opening lesson on the importance of giving back. In the months leading up to Chinese Moon Festival, I volunteered my time at Ai De (Amity) Bakery in Nanjing, working alongside mentally disabled students to make everything from bread and almond cookies, to croissants and moon cakes. My experience at the bakery led me towards a path of selflessness. But I didn't see the violent storm that was about to cross my path.

I. Calm before the Storm

I had only worked with Wen Wen for a couple weeks, and she was getting good. Requiring very little supervision, I was starting to serve more as her companion than her trainer. We made dough from scratch, pressed and cut cookies of all sorts of shapes and sizes, loaded trays into ovens, and packaged everything into decorative bags. We talked about everything from our favorite singers to boys who we thought were cute. We laughed about accidentally getting flour in our hair and how one day our hair might really one day turn that color.

II. Dark Clouds

We were making moon cakes, and Wen Wen was forming the filling – lotus paste with egg yolk in the center. Wen Wen looked like she was struggling to get the egg yolk into the lotus paste. I was next to the ovens checking on a batch of moon cakes that were almost done, observing her from afar. I started to get worried about her progress. I decided to walk over to see if she needed any help. I took only a few steps, when I could see that Wen Wen was beginning to remove her hygiene mask. She was quietly sobbing.

III. A Tempest

I put one hand on her shoulder and she screamed, "Don't touch me!" I balled up some lotus paste between my hands, and proceeded to create a hole in the filling for the egg yolk. “Look Wen Wen, you have to make sure the hole is big enough.” She didn’t even look at me. Instead, she ran out of the room, crying hysterically. One of the veteran Amity employees came over to assure me that I hadn't done anything wrong. "Give her a little bit of time to cool off, and then see if she wants to come back" he advised. I found Wen Wen hiding in one of the bathroom stalls.

IV. The Rainbow

To get her mind off of baking, I asked if she wanted to take a walk and get some fresh air. We kicked a small rock down the road, and picked wildflowers. We twisted some of the flower together, forming a delicate bracelet. Tying it to her wrist, I noticed a smile growing on her face, like a rainbow cutting through an overcast sky. She tucked a yellow flower behind my ear. We took a picture using my mobile phone, and declared ourselves "Flower Sisters Forever." Back in the kitchen, Wen Wen asked if she could give it another try.

I had initially volunteered at Ai De Bakery to better myself. Even in the early stages, I was focusing on actions that made me feel good about myself. After all, I was sacrificing my time to teach Wen Wen valuable life skills that would help her integrate into society. Little did I know it was truly Wen Wen who would wind up helping me. She showed me that helping others isn’t a one-time experience, but a never-ending journey. The portrait of us showing off our wildflowers will always serve as a reminder that good things come to those who put others first.

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