This is part 2 on The Good Work, a feature article on charitable work. For part 1, click here.
Every year, beijingkids uses the holiday issue to draw attention to volunteering and charity-related causes. However, charitable work is a year-round endeavor for Cindy Jensen, Nathalie Azzopardi, and Elena Perez, the parents spotlighted in this month’s feature. Their reasons for donating their time are varied – supporting a cause close to their hearts, setting an example for their children, exploring different options while on a career break – but they are united by their desire to do meaningful work in a non-profit context. We caught up with each of them to discuss their motivations, challenges, and successes.
Nathalie Azzopardi, chairperson of Parent Link at the Western Academy of Beijing (WAB)
Nathalie Azzopardi is originally from the small island of Malta and has lived in Beijing for 12 years. She has two sons, a 16-year-old in Grade 11 and an 8-year-old in Grade 3 at the Western Academy of Beijing (WAB). Since last year, Azzopardi has been the chairperson of the school’s parent-run volunteer association, Parent Link.
How long have you been involved with Parent Link?
I’ve been involved with Parent Link for a number of years in different roles: room parent for six years, early childhood parent representative for two years, and elementary school parent representative for three years. I’ve also helped out in the Parent Link shops and different committees such as the Fun Fair, Charity Bazaar, and Career Fair committees.
Do you have a history of volunteering? If not, what made you decide to get involved with Parent Link?
As soon as we moved to Beijing, I started volunteering at the school. I didn’t do much volunteering back home, as I used to work and didn’t have as much time. I very much liked the family atmosphere at WAB. My eldest son – who was 5 at the time – was always very happy to see me at school, be it in the shop, during field trips, in the cooking classes, or just helping out in the classroom.
I took a break from volunteering when my second son was born, but returned in a more active role once he started nursery. [At that point] I realized I’d rather enjoy this time to the fullest as our children grow up very fast and before we know it, they are off to college. We are very lucky to be at a school that values parent involvement, and where we can be involved in so many meaningful activities and events.
Name some notable projects that you’ve helped organize.
One of my favorite events, which I organized consecutively for two years, was the bake sale for our Charity Bazaar. Another one of my favorites was (and still is) the Staff Appreciation Day lunch for all of our wonderful teachers and staff. Both of these events are huge to organize, but both are very special and appreciated.
What do you get out of being part of Parent Link?
It is a very nice feeling to be involved in events that mean so much to our children and to be a part of what they are experiencing.
Is charity a value that you try to instill in your children?
Of course. They have to understand that not everybody is as fortunate as much as they are. Whenever we can, we try to lead by example. We encourage them to help out, but also participate with them in whatever volunteering they choose to do.
What kind of charity projects are your kids involved in?
Both myself and my eldest son help occasionally at Roundabout’s store; we also helped at some of their book fairs.
What kind of advice would you give to readers who don’t quite know where to start with volunteering?
There is a first time for everything. The feeling that you experience when you’re doing something worthwhile is very special and cannot be easily described. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Parent Link is always looking for volunteers. You can be involved as much as you like; we value everybody’s efforts, no matter how big or small. If you’re unsure about what you want to do, get in touch with us and we can direct you. As the saying goes, “Volunteers are not paid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” Come along and join us in this exciting, meaningful, and enjoyable journey.
WAB Parent Link
Parent Link is open to all parents and guardians of WAB students. Find out more at my.wab.edu/groups/parent-link or contact email@example.com for more information.
Photos: courtesy of WAB
This article originally appeared on page 52 of the beijingkids December 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org