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  • Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Invitation & Accomplishing the Basics

    In early July I received my official invitation from the National Committee of YMCAs of China to come to China for six-months starting October 5 to work at the Chengdu YMCA. Along with the invitation was a "Suggested Plan for Hawkins' Volunteering at Chengdu YMCA" outlining the purpose of my visit: to help the Chengdu YMCA in its program development, rural community service, administration and staff capacity building; to help the staff with learning English; to strengthen the mutual understanding between the Chengdu YMCA and YMCAs of the USA; and to enhance the cultural exchange and friendship between the Chinese people and the American people. My specific assignments would include: teaching English eight hours/week to elementary students at the Gangquing Primary School in Jintang County, a poverty suburban county 40 kilometers from the city of Chengdu; conducting an oral English class six hours/week for the Chengdu YMCA staff; coaching and consulting with the YMCA General Secretary on YMCA administration, operations and program planning; and assisting with YMCA programs as appropriate for my skills and experience.

    With the invitation, I went to the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in New York City and secured by six-month visa for China. I've been to a couple of other visa offices in NYC and the PRC office was the most efficient and pleasant that I've visited. After completing my visa application, I was able to walk across Manhattan to the Chinese National Tourist Office on the 64th floor of the Empire State Building to pick up a variety of maps and guides to China.

    With my visa, NAFYR had me work through Avia Travel of Berkeley CA to secure my roundtrip airline ticket. In order to keep open the option of extending my visa to travel in China after my six-month volunteer commitment, Avia was able to secure an open return ticket good for more than six-months which would also permit me to stop-over in Hong Kong on my return
    trip. My flights will be with China Airlines and Air China.

    Next, I contacted the International Travel Clinic at Moses Taylor Hospital in Sranton PA regarding my immunizations. While none were required and my Hepatitis B was current; the Clinic recommended that I get Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus & Diphtheria, and Japanese Encephalitis vaccine. Completed the shots and got my International Certificate of Vaccination card updated.

    Since Medicare is the valid out of the USA and my supplement would cover me for a limited period, I looked for an insurance policy that would meet my medical and emergency needs. I had planned to join Hosteling International USA so I could stay in HI certified hostels and guesthouses in China. Through HI I was able to secure HostelCare by TravelGuard which provides adequite coverages for trip interruption, medical expense, emergency medical transportation, repatriation of remains and accidental death and dismemberment, plus some travel assist services. While I hope not to need these coverages, they provide the protection needed for international travel.


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