You reap what you sow. The well-known farming metaphor applies not only to a farmer’s harvest but also volunteerism.  Months of preparation and long nights of emails, phone calls, designing, brainstorming, and more all boiled down to two afternoons, my reward: JA’s new independent research project – the career innovation workshop in partnership with Celanese, a company who has graciously and zealously supported JA China.

May 11, the butterflies in my stomach fluttered with nervousness, anticipation and excitement on that May 11th day. The “what ifs” race through my mind. What if the students and volunteers don’t like the activities or find the other party incredibly boring? What if nothing goes according to plan? My fears ease away as I reach Tongji University and meet the bubbly college students and eager Celanese volunteers. I observe as my work unfolds and as the fruits of my labors ripen.

The entire workshop is divided into three parts. I watched as role playing, scenario simulation and other interactive activities bonded the volunteers and students with a common purpose. The volunteers spoke with passion and from personal experience as the students’ eyes shone with admiration of the volunteers and desire for more knowledge. The vivid collaboration and communication made learning about career planning, networking and new jobs enjoyable. My favorite part was the last segment: where volunteers led students to experience the importance of innovation through a series of games and case analysis. Everyone looked like they were enjoying the event. Peals of laughter filled the room. I smiled and joined in.

Unlike the first time, I am no longer nervous on my second visit on May 18th. I arrived at East China University in stride and with an air of confidence. Smooth sailing. Afterwards, students from both universities told me that the event left a strong impression in their minds – not only the enthusiastic volunteers but also the seed of thought to further explore individual career planning and the significance of innovation and teamwork.

What I have realized through my experiences with JA — first as a student, then a volunteer, and now an organizer — is that the impact is tremendous. Through collaboration, enthusiasm and hard work, 86 students and 22 Celanese volunteers all gained something from this independent project. We are excited to continue the partnership with Celanese to bring these innovation workshops to other universities and to watch as the harvest continues to grow.