Today I would like to introduce the Cheltenham Chinese Student Fellowship (中华学坊) which runs by St. Phillip and St. James Church (White House). The Christian volunteers here aim to help Chinese students to learn about English language and culture, meet more local residents and integrate into the community in Gloucestershire. Since 2010, the CCSF has helped several Chinese students to improve their English and be confident chatting with local people.
The first time I knew this project was the Freshers’ Fayre. I was very excited when I heard the familiar language and noticed a large post with four Chinese characters ‘中华学坊’. There was a couple named Doreen and Steve introduced to me about the project and invited me to the first party at White House. Originally from Hong Kong, Doreen and Steve lived in the England for three decades and tried to do something for Chinese students with fear and loneliness.
I went to several ‘Chinese Afternoon Tea (C.A.T.)’ at the White House with my friends and really enjoyed it. What I have gained from those activities was the confident because I talked with many British about history and culture. I also made friends with some of them and kept contract with them after those sessions.
Besides, the CCSF held several festival parties for us. Not only the Chinese one like Lantern Festival and Spring Festival but also Christmas and Easter holiday. It was unforgettable to spend time with other Chinese on those important days. I still remember the taste of dumplings we’ve made during the Spring Festival.
As the Christians, Doreen and Steve shared the knowledge and faith of God to us. We were also invited to attend the ‘Eat & Chat’ at their house every Friday night to learn something from the Bible and God. Each Friday, it started with splendid food and tea, I nearly forgot that I was an international student in the UK due to the chopsticks and traditional Chinese food. Then normally Patrick, an old British gentlemen, shared several topics about life from a Christian’s prospective and his real experience as a bishop. I learnt a lot through those parties and I really appreciate that there is such an opportunity created by Doreen and Steve.
It is really important for Chinese to find the sense of belonging and affiliation, especially for the international students who are far away from the home. Thanks CCSF for establishing such a great project for all Chinese students at Cheltenham.