Shenzhen Daily: American starting local volunteer group

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Jason Stine presenting at the Shenzhen Idea Exchange event in
OCT-LOFT last Saturday

http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2014-03/03/content_2793413.htm

THE local expat community is full of nice people, but they aren’t generally known for charitable contributions. However, 25-year-old Jason Stine, an American from San Diego, California, said he appreciates his life in China and is excited about giving back to the community that he feels is his new home.

“My parents live in Houston, Texas, now,” he explained. “My life and friends are here in China. To that extent, this is my primary home.”

Stine has been in China for four years. After graduating with a combined major of liberal arts and engineering — the liberal arts half included studying Mandarin — he moved to Shanghai. He moved to Shenzhen four months ago, for the weather.

While he was in Shanghai, he got involved with a volunteering and networking organization called BEAN, or Business Entrepreneurs Altruism Networking. Founded in 2003 in Seattle, it has expanded globally and now helps people all over the world.

“It became my community away from home,” Stine said, adding that the Shanghai BEAN chapter hosted several events per week and had hundreds of members. “The Shanghai model is huge.”

He volunteered for activities including playing board games and mahjong with senior citizens, spending time at a shelter for stray cats, and leading a Reading Buddies event at a center for poor children of migrant workers while collaborating with included.org.

“What interests me with these events is more the social interaction aspect of it, and the feeling that I’m a leader of something truly worthwhile. I love socializing with others, and I love being the leader; these moments can make me feel like I really belong in the community,” Stine said. “Volunteering can be really fun, too, so why not use the two latter qualities and put them to some good use to help those in need and benefit the local community?”

The heart of BEAN’s strategy is to connect the community with charities in need of manpower.

“BEAN gives foreigners a chance to volunteer with no language-barrier issues, and connect with other organizations that focus on their own niche,” he added.

Stine, an events and project manager in Nanshan District, said he’s very optimistic about the future of BEAN in Shenzhen. The local chapter is still new and not quite as active as its Shanghai counterpart yet, he said. An early step is learning about local organizations — such as the Shenzhen Blue Ocean Conservation Association, which cleans up trash at beaches in Yantian District — and connecting them with expats.

“I can provide the framework for volunteers. All I need are people, and it’s ready to go. The toolbox is there,” Stine said.


More information about BEAN and volunteering with the local chapter can be found online at:

http://shenzhen.beanonline.org/

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