Summer may be over for some of us, but with over 30,000 Workaway hosts in 170 countries there are still plenty of places around the world to find a little sunshine! With such a huge amount of projects and places to choose from, we thought we’d help you out (because we all know option anxiety is real). Each month we invite ourselves in for a closer look at what’s behind the scenes by interviewing just one of our many hosts. Think of it as a teaser and an excuse for you to join in on the fun. Going by the name of ‘Workaway Host of the Month’ we’ll help you discover more of what it’s like to live in their shoes as we encourage you to take the plunge and find out more for yourself!
This month, we asked a host from a aquaponics and organic farm in China to share some words of wisdom about their experiences. They also had a nice story to tell us about a special Workaway volunteer who made a big impression. If you’re itching with curiosity about what it might be like to volunteer or host in our exchange program, here are some clues!
If there was a Renaissance Farm, yours would be it! You seem to do a little bit of everything from a Makerspace, to aquaponics, a pottery studio and more. What got you started on all of these diverse projects?
We don’t want it to be just a farm with plenty of vegetables and animals. There are more possibilities to connect traditional agriculture and education. Teaching the kids aquaponics, pottery, dyeing and stew-weaving on a farm is a good way to know more about Chinese traditional culture, to be more innovative and improve practical skills. It is the age of information explosion and intelligence, and the future belongs to those who are innovative and courageous to go for the practice.
In the West, agriculture is going through a major revolution. Can you describe some traditional Chinese farming techniques? What do you see as some of the benefits or downfalls of these methods?
Traditional Chinese agriculture refers to the production mode of farming under natural conditions by manual works, livestock manures and manual tools. I think it is good for the community environment with low energy consumption and pollution throughout its tillage process. However, it is not suitable for the large-scale production and the labor cost is very high.
How has hosting so many workawayer made a personal impact on you? Do you see it as something you’ll continue in the future?
Workawayers come from everywhere in the world with different cultures and experiences have made our farm unique and more attractive. They exchange ideas, cultures, skills and leave wonderful works for us.
There is one called Stu who helped us a lot. He is only 20 years old but he has been travelling around the world for more than 1 year. He is an artist. He designed and painted the wall where the kids live, and everyone loves it. He was always curious and happy about what’s going on. He sang, danced, and played football with us, and made the most delicious drink (he learned from Mexico) for us during his stay. What he has done and shared made our farm more beautiful. I’ll definitely continue to host.
Culture shock can happen from the host or volunteer perspective. What are some differences or learning experiences you’ve had in dealing with culture shock?
What you need to do is to accept that we are all different, and to love the others. I am always welcoming differences and open up to new things.
That sounds like a great approach! So what has been the most rewarding thing about hosting international volunteers from a variety of cultures and backgrounds?
The most rewarding thing is when workawayers have become part of our family. We enjoy making them feel like home here. This will make their stay in China much more memorable and this also means they will be introducing the hospitable side of Chinese culture to their friends and families for when they go back to their home countries.
China is such a large country! Can you tell us some unique features of Sichuan province or the way of life there?
It contains plateaus, plains and basins, which make its cities very different from each other. There are many delicious dishes and snacks that famously known as spicy and tasty. And Sichuan people prefer living in a comfortable and relaxing life style; they are always enjoying themselves.
Thanks for inspiring us! It sounds like you truly enjoy being a Workaway host in the beautiful Sichuan in China and we’re so happy to have people like you who open your homes and hearts to Workaway volunteers!
Do you want to share your own story? We are always on the lookout for hosts with interesting perspectives to share! Email us to tell us all about it and you could be in our next feature!