Law & Human Rights in China by Lucky Rahman
It hadn’t hit me till I was on the plane that I was actually going through with this. Terrified, exhausted and excited were just some of the things I was feeling as I got off the plane in China. This was the first time I was doing something like this on my own.
I flew to Chengdu for four weeks to do a law internship at Henghexin Law firm. Christos, my volunteer advisor and the Projects Abroad team were amazing in answering all of my questions before my departure.
Arriving in China
Arriving at the airport I met Lucy, a staff member from Projects Abroad. I could not be happier to see her and she took me to my accommodation which was about 30 minutes away. She showed me the flat which was a lot bigger than I was expecting especially the bedroom which was great!
The next morning I was taken to my placement which was about 15 minutes on the metro and then a 20 minutes’ walk. I was nervous to say the least, but once I was there the people were incredibly nice and the partner Mr Lui invited me out to lunch with them and work outings.
My first evening there I met my housemates who were amazing and offered to take me out and show me around. I got to find out how their placement was going and what made them choose China out of all the other projects available. Over the course of the four weeks I became close to a lot of the volunteers there and we did a lot of activities together.
Work for me was absolutely incredible! I loved it! That sounds weird but my work colleagues were great and everyone that could speak English came and spoke to me and made me feel part of their team. Every day I went to lunch with them and they all spoke in English to involve me in the conversation. They even gave me a Chinese name! I requested it be one that was one that was easy to spell. I spoke to a couple of the partners and got to find out the different areas of law they specialise in and the process it takes to become a lawyer in China.
I got my own desk with my team mates. My work colleagues were able to log me onto the legal case pages they use which was useful to say the least. I was also, given a few cases that were going to go to court and they were kind enough to have it translated for me, so when I went to court with them I knew what the basis of the hearing was on. Additionally, I was tasked with researching the differences and similarities between UK and Chinese law.
During my first couple of weeks I created a presentation about the Chinese legal system. Lastly, I was asked to assist with research on a case by one of the partners. We met up a couple times a week to discuss what I had researched and she explained the different ways she will go about explaining her approach in the court room.
At the end of work there were many evenings I went out with work colleagues and they showed me touristy spots and got me to try different foods. They would not stop feeding me! Although I didn’t complain the food was delicious! On one evening they took me to karaoke, turned out hilarious but great fun.
I loved every second of my placement at the Henghexin firm! And I’d like to think I did a good job as they wrote me a reference and told me if I ever wanted to come back all I would have to do is let them know and they would either set me up with themselves or one of their partner firms if I wanted to practice a different area of law. I am still in touch with all my colleagues.
Sightseeing in China
There is never a chance to be bored and say there is nothing to do. If I wasn’t doing something with work colleagues or the other volunteers I ventured out on my own and explored the city. Chengdu had so much to offer. Getting to the museums, temples, historic places (I could go on) was extremely easy and the metro line was simple enough to understand.
Most weekends I went out of city, I wanted to see as much as I could in the short amount of time I was there. I was always in touch with other volunteers to check who wanted to visit the various places and then we would do day trips. The trains in China are really easy to understand and very efficient. Trips out of town are really cheap compared to UK prices. One weekend a couple of us went and visited the panda sanctuary which was a lot of fun. The pandas didn’t move around a lot but it was still incredible to see. There was a huge lake which was filled with different fish and swan which was gorgeous.
One weekend there was the dragon boat festival so we got Monday off from work and I requested to get Tuesday off as well which my supervisor was fine with. A couple of the girls and I went to Jiuzhaigou National Park which is stunning. There are no words to describe how beautiful this place was. You could spend hours just getting lost in the blue lakes. During that weekend we were able to also, organise horseback riding and going to see a Chinese play in the theatres – was fabulous!
Before arriving to Chengdu I knew nothing of the place. It is such a gorgeous city. I miss it every day! I didn’t know a single word of Chinese which made it difficult but not impossible. The cultural classes in which they taught us a few phrases and told me about an app which proved to be exceedingly helpful. The Projects Abroad staff in China were unbelievably helpful – on my last night I had to get a taxi at 4:30 in the morning to get to the airport and Elaine the volunteer coordinator woke up and called me a taxi to make sure I got there in time. She is amazing to say the least!
I would recommend Projects Abroad to everyone! They are a great organisation and provide you with a lot of support prior to your trip as well as on-going support once there. It made me feel better knowing that there was someone there that I could speak to if there was an emergency and it also made my parents feel better about me going on my own.
Being in China is something I will never forget! The people I met have become good friends that I am still in touch with on a daily basis. I have some amazing memories and stories and valuable experience that will help me with my career aspirations.
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