Volunteer Stories: Story of Wang Haiyan

Our dedicated medical volunteer Jeff Paurus with Wang Haiyan, a nurse from China, that he trained 15 years ago


Our medical volunteers fly halfway around the world to help their peers from our partner hospitals treat children with heart disease. Meet our volunteer Jeff Paurus from Minnesota, a nurse educator, who has been training nurses with Children’s HeartLink for 20 years. During his teaching trips, he has donated countless hours of his time to educating nurses and nursing students in China. Recently, he got involved in the Nurse Residency Program, our project in Kochi, India, the only program of its kind in the country. Jeff also serves on our International Programs Committee. Thank you, Jeff, for all the time and talent you contribute to save the lives of children and transform health care in underserved parts of the world!

In his blog, Jeff shares his story about an accidental encounter in Lanzhou, a Chinese city of over 3 million, where he crossed paths with a nurse he trained many years ago.

Story of Wang Haiyan

by Jeff Paurus, Children’s HeartLink volunteer

On November 7th of this year, I had just arrived on the high-speed Gaotie train from the coast to Lanzhou. By pure chance, I ran into Wang Haiyan outside a restaurant. Despite not seeing each other for about 15 years, we instantly recognized each other. In a city of three million, such an encounter is quite amazing!

In 1999, Wang Haiyan and three other nurses from Lanzhou, China, were at Wolfson Hospital near Tel Aviv for a year of training supported by the Israeli-based Save A Child’s Heart, at that time a Children’s HeartLink partner charity. During the summer of 1999, I went to Wolfson Hospital with my very first volunteer effort as part of Children’s HeartLink. The volunteer activity was teaching Israeli ICU nurses and the four nurses from Lanzhou.

Wang Haiyan’s story is quite remarkable. Wang Haiyan finished her year of training and returned to Lanzhou. However, it was difficult to find a nursing position in the city. So, she returned to Israel where she worked as a nurse in the clinic of a Kibbutz for over a year.  After returning to Lanzhou, she worked for the government utilizing her excellent English skills as an interpreter. Her work involved travel to many countries. She met her husband during her government work. Her husband had a strong entrepreneur spirit and decided to begin an English language school in Lanzhou with Wang Haiyan as one of the first teachers. The school has been quite successful and has recently moved into a new building with modern teaching facilities and bright spacious classrooms. She explained to me that the school has expanded its educational programs beyond only English. To meet the needs of people in Lanzhou, the school also teaches mathematics, physics, and family education.

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