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School kids voluntarily serve at Shenzhen Museum

Hu Yihang is a popular star at Shenzhen Museum. Even the security guards at the entrance know his name and what he does during school holidays and weekends: that being, telling stories about the animals exhibited at the museum.

The 9-year-old docent is a fourth-grader from Shenzhen Luoling Foreign Language Experimental School. With a strong colloquial capacity and his standard Mandarin, the boy easily attracts people’s attention when explaining the habits of the animals on display.

Like Hu, Feng Jiani, Ju Yinge and Fu Yapei were all teenage docents selected to serve voluntarily for the museum last year. Each year, there are hundreds of students from various schools competing for the opportunity to become a teenage docent.

Through interviews, the above four docents all entered into the final round of assessments. Before that, they had trained for 10 straight days at the museum during the summer holiday last year. The training was mainly for the little docents to memorize the scripts that introduce the backgrounds, stories and some facts about the cultural relics shown at various exhibiting halls.

Each of them would be assigned to act as docents for different exhibiting halls. Hu was in charge of two exhibition halls and the other three girls mainly worked at the hall that showcases Shenzhen’s unique folk cultures.

Before being employed as volunteer docents, the students had to go through a final assessment, which was to present 20 times at the museum. After each presentation, the little docents would need to ask one of the visitors to sign and comment on their performance on their individual service brochures.

“I met a Korean visitor once when I was leading some visitors at the hall of folk cultures,” said Ju, an 11-year-old girl from Nanshan Chinese International College. “The visitor did not seem to understand Chinese but he followed and listened to my presentation throughout the tour.”

Ju said the foreign visitor wrote a large comment in Korean when she finished the explanation. Though she did not understand the comment, she could feel that the visitor had a great time listening to her talk.

All of the four little docents told Shenzhen Daily that they were not confident when they first started the job, but gradually their faith in themselves grew as they talked more and led more visitors.

Feng, a Chinese-British girl also from the Nanshan school, said that she feels much more confident now. “I did not dare to go out on my own because I was afraid of talking to strangers, but now I can go out all by myself.”

The little boy said that to memorize all the info by heart helped him to learn much more than from textbooks and he is, to some extent, a little expert on animals now.

Ju said speaking in front of strangers helped her improve her posture as well as enhanced her oratory skills.

Another 10-year-old girl, Feng, told Shenzhen Daily that she used to hate history because it was all about memorizing facts and years, but now she feels that every historical person and event from her script feels real to her now.

A staff member from the museum known as Linda said that each year there are students coming to serve as teenage docents. There are currently over 100 active little docents that spend time at the museum leading visitors on school holidays and weekends.

Source: Shenzhen Daily