Editor’s note: The U-Voice student storyteller program trains undergraduate student volunteers how to be reporters during medical missions. They interview patients as well as both medical and nonmedical volunteers, take their portraits, and write up their stories to share with the world.
By Cassie Altamirano, U-Voice student storyteller
As early as fourth grade, Wilson knew he wanted to volunteer with Operation Smile. His fundraising events since then have not only spread awareness about the organization throughout the Shanghai community, but he’s inspired other students to join him on this endeavor.
Wilson is a rising freshman at the Concordia International School of Shanghai. He has arranged events in his local neighborhood and encouraged classmates, family friends, and business sponsors to participate. He hosts countless bake sales and just recently organized an incredible benefit concert that raised more than $7,000 for Operation Smile.
Additionally, in 2016, he attended a medical mission in China where he served as a volunteer for Patient Records, Speech Pathology, and Child Life. Now at this 2019 Wenshan mission, he is here again, this time assisting the media crew with translation in order to ensure effective communication between patients and volunteers.
Love for Operation Smile actually runs in Wilson’s family, as his brother discovered the nonprofit through the help of their father, who works for Marriot.
“My brother really inspired me with his involvement, but after experiencing Operation Smile for myself once, I was stuck,” Wilson said.
Two of Wilson’s classmates, Isaac and Vivian, decided to join the 2019 Wenshan mission as translators for the patient care and child-life teams. Isaac appreciates the dedication of Operation Smile. “Everyone is passionate about the care for these children,” Isaac said. Vivian also expressed her enjoyment of working in the child-life department, and she said, “I just love seeing all the kids smile.” Both shared they would undoubtedly attend another mission if the opportunity arises because this mission has already left a huge impact.
The spark of Wilson’s father sharing his knowledge about Operation Smile led to both his sons volunteering at China medical missions. Wilson continued this chain reaction by inspiring his friends and Shanghai community members to join the cause.
Who is next?
Cassie studies at the University of South Carolina. The Virginia Beach, Virginia, native has been involved with Operation Smile since high school. She attended a medical mission in the Philippines and served as a student health-care educator.