Volunteer of the Month: Shanrong Dai
September 1, 2021
Why did you choose to volunteer with Eden Housing?
For me, volunteering isn’t a choice if not a chance encounter. I moved into Josephine Lum Lodge (JLL) in November 2016. At the time, the translator, actually he was a Chinese Resident Services Coordinator, retired. Our Chinese residents wrote a letter asking for a translator and asked me to sign it. However, there wasn’t a budget for a paid position. Instead, my neighbors asked me to try and I have been volunteering since.
What have you done as a volunteer? Please describe your role and what you have worked on.
My role is to be a bridge of communication between Chinese residents and property office staff. I translate for monthly community meetings, festival celebration parties, and other activities or events organized by the office. I also translate several important documents and notes such as memos, newsletters, and calendars.
For example, I assist the Resident Services Coordinator (RSC) Lori Rivas throughout the month. I collaborate with her to translate the monthly Newsletter Highlights, calendar, flyers, and help at events as needed. I also help organize some activities such as a walking exercise group where we did a symbolic walk to Hollywood, New York, and Florida, a garden art class, a Taiji exercise class, an English class; and a singing group.
As a friend of Chinese residents, my goal is mainly to help those who have no family to assist them; I do this by reading official documents, assisting them to fill out forms, sometimes personal English letters, prepare for the recertification interview, use electronic devices, and access Zoom meetings.
What have you learned through your volunteer experience? Have there been any surprises?
I have learned a lot from the volunteer experience. The main thing is to practice American English and experience how to deal with complicated interpersonal relationships; this provides a deeper meaning to my service to others.
To my surprise, my very ordinary work was recognized and praised by the manager some time ago. Borija Hasic wrote me by email and stated:” Thank you Mr. Dai for all your help, you truly are a blessing at our property and we are very lucky to have you here.” These words were the greatest affirmation and encouragement to me and brought me great comfort. It really moved me when I read it. Now, with this nomination for volunteer of the month made by our current RSC Lori Rivas and working with her, I feel I am making a difference to our JLL Community.
What do you like best about volunteering with Eden Housing?
What I like most to do is to translate meetings, important documents, and notices to keep us all connected. Unfortunately, if there is no translation, the Chinese residents would not be aware of or come to meetings to be informed of important issues.
Are there any tips that you would share for someone else who is considering volunteering?
A few words come to mind “love and patience.” Remember, you don’t always get thanked, being of service to others is its own reward.
Tell us something we may not know about you. Any interesting facts you’d like to share about your life?
I’m a Christian and a scholar. I have no special training in English, so I use my volunteering as an opportunity to improve my English skills. Here is something not many know about me. I was a visiting scholar at the University of Hawaii from 1981 to 1983. I have only ever done translation in the academic field after I returned to China. My hobby is painting Chinese works of art.