The Wallenberg Travel Award has provided me with funds to spend a month in Xian, China, this summer, volunteering to help educate and care for children with physical and mental disabilities. Disabilities are widely misunderstood and highly stigmatized in China, and children who are born disabled often face a bleak future. Resources for disabled children and their families are almost non-existent, and even mildly disabled children cannot attend public schools. Through a program with Cross-Cultural Solutions, a non-profit global volunteer organization, I will be placed at a non-profit day care and education center for infants, children and teenagers.
I am a junior double-majoring in political science and Asian studies and have been studying Mandarin Chinese for three years. This volunteer program will be an opportunity to use my language skills to raise awareness of an under-recognized issue, and to help children in a country where I some day hope to work. In the long term, my goal is to attend law school, and to then pursue a career in international law and policy in China, where many issues, such as those faced by disabled children and adults, need advocacy and policy revision.