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Service station faces challenges from fluctuating expat community

2015-September-8       Source: Szdaily.com

The government-funded foreigner service station in Jingshan Villa is facing challenges and obstacles because of the frequently changing expat population in Shekou.

Children and expat families in an Easter celebration held at the Jingshan Villa in April. Photos by Sun Yuchen

The government-funded foreigner service station in Jingshan Villa that was founded in 2010 to better serve the expat community is facing challenges and obstacles because of the frequently changing expat population in Shekou, the densely populated expat community in the southwest portion of the city.

“Expats move frequently; so do social workers. That makes it difficult to keep the quality of our work consistent,” said Shen Weiying, project manager for the Foreigners Community Services Station.

The current number of full-time social workers at the service station is merely four, including Shen. “All of them were new recruits,” said Shen. “Even though we were established in July 2014, we are still bonding with the locals.”

They all belong to a social service institute called Nanfeng Social Work Service, which inked a three-year contract with Zhaoshang Subdistrict last year.

Sona Ghose, vice president of Shekou Women’s International Club (SWIC), said she met with two staffers from the service station at a Halloween party and child Olympic event held by the management, Zhaoshang Subdistrict office and SWIC at Jingshan Villa.

“The service station always had one booth, along with other games and food,” said Sona. “They have flyers with lots of information for expats.”

The service station now focuses more on organizing activities inside Jingshan Villa. But Shen explained that it is also supposed to serve expats at nearby estates like Guishan Villa, Fraser Place, Mont Orchid Riverlet and Peninsula.

According to Liu, an employee at Zhaoshang Subdistrict, Jingshan Villa, developed by China Merchants, is home to around 536 expats, 77.79 percent of its total residents. But the data, Liu said, is not up-to-date.

The service station now has around 200 volunteers and they sponsor four to five community activities every month, such as Mandarin courses. “It was initiated by the Foreign Affairs Office, which invited Mandarin teachers from Shenzhen University to teach the classes.”

“The problem is the attendees did not stick around. They come and go,” said Shen.

N+ Community also provides Mandarin course in Shekou. Nora, a representative of N+, said that N+ is not government-funded but is doing quite well.

Statistics provided by Liu showed that there are around 2,700 expats from 54 countries living in Yanshan Community. They altogether made up 15.63 percent of the community. Among them, Japanese take up the largest proportion, roughly 414, followed by Americans at 346 and North Koreans at 93.

Five international schools are located nearby, namely Shekou International School, Quality International School, Korean International School, Shenzhen Japanese School and Shenzhen American International School.

Editor: Sylvia Xu

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