The alarm rings. A new day. The last day. At least the last day where we can experience and observe the activities done by the work of Save the Children in co-operation with the local education department.
After our breakfast at another fascinating morning noodle restaurant, we stepped into the bus. It was only a 10-minute drive and we still had enough time to do a short interview about our expectations of the coming day. My expectations were different from the other days. I knew we were going to visit a totally different type of school, with different involvement from Save the Children. The kids are older and there is not a special education programme. At this school, the involvement of Save the Children is to support young people with internships and the basics of representing themselves at an interview.
The hospitality and friendly welcome was as good as at the other schools. We visited two practical departments where we experienced the daily exercise of the students. In one of these departments, they learned everything about repairing cars and the second one was a workplace where they learned the basics of cooking.
My experience with these two workplaces was great. In some ways, I already knew the Chinese culture was about hard work, and a willingness and eagerness to learn. And this is really true. Beside these things, they work together to achieve their goals, help each other where necessary and combine their knowledge to solve difficult problems. To see and hear how driven these students were with their work was inspiring. Such a difference with our culture, in seeing their togetherness in learning something they really want.
After visiting the workplaces, we were invited to the main square between the school buildings. I thought we had almost seen everything but they had prepared a whole ceremony with girls who were beautifully dressed. They gave us an amazing dance performance and a group photo, as finishing touch. When they finished, I was touched again by hearing the melody of Für Elise by Mozart.
We had heard that melody in the first school we visited and now also in this school. That amazed me. They use these tunes to start a new part of the school day and give harmony through the school. But this tune created such a form of togetherness and discipline, in such a friendly way.
With my ears pleased by this lovely tune, and the daily exercise done by the entire school, we went to a classroom to talk with two students groups.
In this session, we were able to tell the students about IKEA and what we do in our daily jobs. We told them about the importance of the IKEA values – and how they help us work together and become such an inspiring company. After our introduction, the children were allowed to ask us questions and tell us what they were studying.
The most inspiring thing during these sessions was that these kids were so surprised by our values, and the way we work together with our managers and have the opportunity to develop. And what we can learn from them is that togetherness and willingness is such a powerful combination to achieve goals in our daily lives and during our work.