On Friday, I ventured to Changfeng Park for a day of activities with the kids from the center. Upon arriving, I realized that the day's function was organized and sponsored by L'Oreal. That's right, the world's biggest cosmetics and beauty company had its social responsibility initiative in a day that they called "Citizen Day." On second thought, maybe I shouldn't have named the company? It's not particularly relevant to the post, it could have been any company. But oh well, I'm a student with no penny to my name, what do I care.
Every child from the center had a staff person attending to him/her, as well as two people from L'Oreal, throughout the day. It's really hot out, and the staff fussed over me not having a parasol or a hat or sunscreen lotion, roughing it in my dress and sunglasses. I repeatedly told them not to worry about me. They also dressed some of the kids in one or two (TWO!) layers of long sleeve clothes - because they did not want them to get burned in the sun. I don't understand, because it seems like getting a little tanned can't kill them, but a heat stroke probably can.
We enter the Shanghai Brand Museum and show the kids around. One corporate volunteer tries to interact with the child she is hanging out with, pointing at all the different things, but he stares blankly forward. Out of frustration, she says to herself, he won't say anything or do anything, why can't you at least do something?
Oh, I don't know, maybe because it's overwhelming, it's just a bunch of random stuff in a glass box, and he's not necessarily obligated to interact with you? It's incredibly selfish to think that you have a right to be frustrated when you have no idea what their life is like and what they're thinking.
After some fun games and little performances from corporate volunteers and from the kids, lunch begins in a frenzy. Guess what was for lunch. KFC. Fried chicken (well, mystery meat, we don't know if it's actually chicken), burgers, and top that off with gallons of Pepsi.
One of kids that I interact with the most has two volunteers with her. She is very sweet, very smart, but verbalizes very little. She mainly communicates with her hands and smiles. Instead of spending time getting to know her, one of her volunteers was on his iPhone most of the time. He didn't bother showing her things at the museum, or at the aquarium where we went next, and probably not at the sea lion and beluga whale show afterwards either.
To be fair, this is not meant to reflect badly on L'Oreal. There were many volunteers who were compassionate and outstanding. I was just a little disappointed, only because I love the kids and want the best for them. Corporations should do awesome things like this and give back to the community. Although the kids weren't all laughing with excitement the entire time, I think they enjoyed a break from their usual routine.