Mar 7, 2021

My Journey

K.W. in high school
K.W. in high school

My name is K. W.   I’m from a very poor village in Henan Province, one of the most impoverished provinces in China. 

My parents divorced when I was only two years old, and I was left with my alcoholic dad.  One day, my dad sold me to the owner of a restaurant because he couldn’t pay for his drink.  I spent the next few days alone in a dark shed, with very little food and water.  The horrific memory of those days still haunts me today.  Fortunately my grandparents found me and brought me back home. 

I was a top student for the first five years when I was in elementary school. Then at 6th grade, i went to the town for a boarding school. That was the first time I was away from my family, and I was really excited about my newly gained "freedom".  Without the supervision of my grandparents, I began to smoke, drink, and get into fights. Unsurprisingly, my grades plummeted. By the end of the school year, I was one of the worst students and was expelled from the school. 

At the young age of 11, I left home and began to earn my own living.  At the beginning, I felt that I had finally broken free from all the constraints and could enjoy my new life.  But after a while, I was crushed by the reality.   Since I was a minor, I could only find part-time jobs at construction sites. The work was painstaking, especially during summer when the sun was so brutal.  My clothes were always soaked in sweat, and I fainted several times under the severe heat.  I was verbally abused constantly by the head worker, and always given the hardest and dirtiest jobs.  I thought about quitting and going back to school, but I believed there was no turning back.      

One day, while passing by a school, I heard the students reading aloud from their textbooks. That night, I dreamt of returning to school.  When I woke up from the dream, I cried my heart out.  How I wished that I could return to school!  At that moment, I knew it was time for me to go home.   

When I finally made home, I told grandpa that I knew I had messed up, but I really wanted to return to school.  “As long as you want to go back”, grandpa said, “we will do our best to support you”. It was at that time I met SOAR.   

So three years after leaving the campus, I finally returned, with my old school bag and a new determination for success. Since 2017, SOAR Foundation has provided me scholarships through my three-year high school. And at the same time, I was enlightened by the SOAR mentors. I am now a college student. My experience made me realize that although there might be many storms in our life’s journey, the most beautiful rainbows will always appear after the storms.  Every cloud has a silver lining and SOAR is my silver lining. As for my future plan, I hope I could get a master’s degree after college so that I can better serve our society.  I’m very grateful for the volunteers and donors from SOAR as well as my grandparents, and I hope I can repay their love and support with my hard work.  No matter what challenges are awaiting for me, I’m confident that I will be able to overcome them and lead a meaningful life. 

Thank you SOAR! 

Editor's note:

The 2021 first issue of the SOAR newsletter is now available. Please click the link below to view it online:
https://soarfoundation.net/wp-content/uploads/Newsletters/202102Newsletter.pdf

K.W. working as a minor construction worker
K.W. working as a minor construction worker
Dec 22, 2020

Happy 25th Birthday SOAR!

Moon in elementary school
Moon in elementary school

Attending SOAR’s 25th Anniversary Zoom Event on the weekend, I recalled that I was fortunate enough to be the first group of award-winning students who received SOAR Scholarships in 1996. From then on, I was like a little fish that picked up by SOAR Foundation to get the opportunity to grow up freely in the ocean, not in a dried small creek dying anymore. SOAR mentor Ms. W.’s meticulous care and encouragement guided me through my school years.

 

Born in a little village in Northern part of Jiangsu province (which is famous for its destitution), at the age of 12, I was still very ignorant, didn’t even know how to write a self-introduction essay. Now I have grown up and I am self-sufficient. I have not only fulfilled my dream to earn university diploma, I have entered the headquarter of a state-owned enterprise as I wish, and I also bought an apartment in Beijing, the capital city, using the money I earned on my own. Now as a parent, raising children, I can contribute to the society and others as much as I can. On this road, SOAR is like a lighthouse. For 25 years, SOAR Foundation has been illuminating my way, warming me, guiding me, rewriting my destiny, washing my soul, and encouraging me to move forward when I encounter difficulties. The kindness, selflessness, and great love spirit of SOAR volunteers have been integrated into my life. At the Zoom online gathering, I saw many volunteers who are in their 80s and 90s with all grey hairs and wrinkles. They are still shining and enthusiastic about the education of poor students in rural China and devoted all their lives. The true portrayal of  the poem "the silk worm worked so hard to produce silk until last breath, the candle becomes ashes until the last tear dropped".

 

I wish SOAR a very happy 25th birthday, and wish that SOAR would be forever young, energetic and everlasting. I will live up to the spirit of SOAR and spread the love of SOAR. No matter in which industry and position, I will do my best to give back to the society and help others like me in 1996.

 

Stay healthy and safe in the pandemic!

Have a Bright New Year of 2021!

 

Moon

SOAR Alumna, Class of 1999

Moon's Family Now
Moon's Family Now
SOAR Scholarship Map 2019-2020 Total Awarded 1,286
SOAR Scholarship Map 2019-2020 Total Awarded 1,286
Nov 2, 2020

SOAR and I through High School - Thank you

1st Photo at BIT
1st Photo at BIT

In my humble 18-year of life, many known and unknown people helped me: without any hints, our head teacher led entire class students from elementary school spent all income from picking tea leaves in spare time buying me a pair of shoes; someone gave me a thick cotton coat to help me withstand the cold winter; the head teacher bought me a few boxes of milk, expecting me to grow taller, but most touchingly, SOAR warmed my heart all three years of high school.

 

First time I learned about SOAR Foundation was in the first year of high school. SOAR volunteers (I call them grandma, grandpa, uncles and aunties) came to visit us that day. We were shocked because most of them came from the United States and all the way to the remote small town of Huangping, Guizhou Province to visit us who had never met before. Some of the volunteers had all white and grey hairs. After the initial orientation, I learned that many classmates, like me, have an incomplete family (my parents were divorced, and we four siblings lived with our father). They encouraged us to be strong and change the future with our own hands since we cannot change the past. We talked a lot, including what the United States is like and how they learned English and started their business in the United States. During the conversation, I felt the love of my elders. At departure, we took a group photo and got a pen as a souvenir. Later, we also learned that SOAR volunteers went to visit the SOAR students in other rural areas all over the country. When they returned home, many of them got sick due to the long and intense trip travelling in mountains.

 

In order to contact and communicate easier and better, we have established a mentor group on WeChat. Here, the students were telling about their studies and living conditions, and SOAR volunteers patiently gave us guidance and answered our questions/concerns. What surprised me most was how much they knew about us. Grandma Z knew that I liked running and reminded me to pay attention to nutrition. She knew that I liked to play chess and asked someone to buy me a chess book. She knew that I was timid and introverted and encouraged me to participate in more competitions. She was pleased that I won the first place in the men's 1500m competition, and regretted that I failed to participate in math and physics competitions due to financial difficulties. I know they must have read the letter we wrote again and again, otherwise it would be impossible to understand everyone in such detail. In order to improve our English, they also taught us English on WeChat. Knowing that my father was sick, Grandma Z called to ask about his condition. Knowing that my father died of cancer, she comforted me and encouraged me to be strong. She also sent me food and vitamins from the United States. There were other volunteers who cared about me and paid attention to me silently.

 

SOAR not only provided financial support, but more important to me – SOAR is my safe haven at heart. Thank you to you, SOAR, for the most memorable three-year in high school!  

 

Yours truly,

TJ

 

Editor’s note:

 

From Ms. Z, mentor group: TJ has been one of my favorite SOAR students. He was very introverted, always quiet and didn’t talk much. He’s the orphan who’s racing against time. He’s been hiding his pain deep in his heart. When his father passed away, he was afraid people asking him about his father. Each summer vacation he went to mountains to dig Taizi Ginseng to support his family. He works very hard, almost running instead of walking everywhere and practice English words all the time. I’m very proud of him over the years. Big congratulations to TJ for being accepted to BIT’s top-notch AI in automobile major this year. SOAR donors were kind to offering him scholarship in college, but he told us that he already received lots of help from SOAR and as an adult now he thought that other younger students need the help more than himself. I wish the best for TJ and all SOAR students in the future!

TJ digging Taizi Ginseng 12+hrs/day in summer
TJ digging Taizi Ginseng 12+hrs/day in summer
 
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