2010-Aug-05, US Volunteer: "My Intership in Beijing Educational Base Of Forbidding Narcortic & Hallucinogen ”

In 2008, I joined a 2-year Chinese Study-Broad Program in the United States.  The program consists of three phases:  One-year study in the U.S. (2 semesters), one semester study at Nanjing University, and a 4-6 month internship in China with a Chinese-run business or organization. 

Based on a student’s interests and area of study, the program assists him/her in finding a suitable internship.  I majored in Justice Administration as an undergraduate in the U.S., and during my second semester there, I wrote a paper concerning the drug situation in China.  As I researched the subject, I discovered the Beijing Educational Base Of Forbidding Narcortic & Hallucinogen Drug Free Zone website.  At that time, of course, I had no idea I would actually have the opportunity to serve my internship at their headquarters in Beijing.
Doctor Jian, the study-abroad program’s Qingdao Office Director, discovered the Drug Free Zone as he researched internship opportunities for me.  While he found other possibilities as well, after taking a closer look at the website, I was very interested in the opportunity to live in Beijing, to serve as a Drug Prevention Volunteer, and to be a participant in China’s efforts to confront the illicit drug problem.  On 03FEB2010 I arrived in Beijing to begin my internship.
In an effort to reach the international community, the Drug Free Zone created an English version of their website. Drug free zone is the English website of the chinese webite Beijing Drug Control Online,which is one department of the Beijing Educational Base Of Forbidding Narcortic & Hallucinogen.  Shortly after arriving, I was introduced to Zhang Jun, the man in charge of the English site, and set to work with a number of different responsibilities.  I translated Chinese articles from the Chinese website into English, I edited articles that had been translated into English by other volunteers, and I translated articles from other foreign English websites into Chinese.  This variety of assignments has been instrumental in my efforts to improve my Chinese language skills.
In addition to translating and editing, I had some unique opportunities to become more familiar with China’s drug prevention efforts.  I participated in tours of the Base’s Exhibition Hall several times, sometimes with local middle-school students, and sometimes with international scholars.  I had the opportunity to tour the Beijing Municipal Public Security Ministry’s Compulsory Drug Rehabilitation Center, as well as the Beijing Municipal Pharmacological Treatment/Maintenance Clinic, both of which are integral components of an effective anti-drug strategy.  I also worked at the 10-day Beijing Ditan Book Fair, one of the larger drug prevention education promotional events of the year, where I passed out literature regarding China’s anti-drug efforts, as well as assisted in a number of other activities furthering the cause of drug prevention.  As a work unit, we have also taken a couple trips to the rural areas outside of Beijing City to promote drug prevention education.  I’ve been duly impressed with the devotion of my fellow coworkers, and the efforts of our organization in general to confront this issue. 
I had a general understanding of the drug situation in the United States prior to this internship, but I now have a much more thorough understanding of the scope of the problem.  All communites, cultures, and nations deal with illicit drugs and their associated problems to some degree.  It is truly a world issue, and as such, demands international cooperation.
This kind of cooperation requires trust, something that is not easily developed, particularly between differing cultures.  It often requires more desire, time, effort, and patience than most people are willing to invest.  But it is, nevertheless, essential for reaching what is essentially a universal goal:  The development of a peaceful, harmonious society.
I’ve always believed that if you really wanted to get to know somebody, you had to work with them.  Therefore, it’s no surprise to me that this internship has resulted in an increased understanding of Chinese culture, to a greater degree than anything I had done previously.  This understanding came not through my studying of the drug problem or through the reading and homework required by the study-abroad program, but through my daily interactions with my fellow coworkers and our focus on a common goal.  In addition to being engaged in our work, traveling on the bus to and from work, playing badminton, singing karaoke, and eating Chinese food – whether at our unit’s cafeteria, or at a Chinese restaurant – all helped me to learn about and grow closer to those who previously were just random people on who lived on the other side of the planet.
I’m no publicity major or marketing expert.  I’ve never designed a web page or written anything more than an essay or short thesis.  I only utilize the web for simple research, or to send an email here and there, so I’m in no way qualified to comment on any strengths or weaknesses of the Drug Free Zone website.  I do know that those who work behinds the scenes here at the Base work hard, and with devotion, to provide an attractive, user-friendly site containing important and useful information concerning the illicit drug situation in China, as well as China’s efforts to address this problem through preventative education, effective treatment, and strict law enforcement.  Anything that can be done to motivate the general population to visit and utilize the site would greatly benefit the promotion of drug prevention awareness and education.

       I’ve thoroughly enjoyed serving as a Drug Prevention Volunteer, and thank all those who made this opportunity possible.  I’m very grateful for all those I’ve worked with, and thank them for their unlimited patience with me and my limited communication skills!  I wish the best for them all, and hope to maintain contact after my internship concludes!( Earle McEwen)

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