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Jul 26, 2019

A letter of Gratitude to SOAR Volunteer

Date: May 20th, 2019

 

Dear Ms. X., my most respected teacher:

 

How are you? First of all, I would like to wish you and your family good health and overall wellbeing. I am very grateful for us to be reconnected.

 

From 1996 to 2006, through the eight long years, you have guided me from junior high school, through senior high school and then college, with broad love from SOAR. I can never, for the life of me, forget such love and care; it has also deeply affected the direction of my life. Let my incalculable gratitude transform into a blessing for you: a long-lasting healthy life!

 

During the time of your mentoring, you reminded me of the option of returning home to seek employment, and to participate in the work of constructing my homeland after I have finished college. After I graduated from college in 2007, I did return to Sichuan province, and worked at Panzhihua city. It has been ten years since, how fast has time passed!

 

Starting from the most elementary position, through a lot of street struggle, I have risen through the ranks, and become a principal of an enterprise. I also have a happy and blessed family.

 

In the meantime, I have devoted a lot of time and energy, within my ability, to China’s countryside education and anti-poverty programs, all based on the SOAR tradition of broad love. I have kept in touch and have had great exchanges with SOAR’s volunteers and numerous SOAR graduates younger than me.

 

SOAR motivated me yesterday, SOAR is my pride today, and I shall follow the SOAR path tomorrow. As the first group of graduates supported by SOAR scholarships, I will not forget my original goal, will work hard, and will not fail to meet the expectations of SOAR, namely, seeking betterment of myself and my team, and, by team work with other SOAR graduates, carry on the baton of the SOAR spirit. I will always remember Ms.Siu Huang’s advise of doing a super job on my daily undertakings, and always keeping love and public interests in my mind. 

 

During the recent years, the Panzhihua city is promoting to become a location of sunshine health and rejuvenation. In the winter time the average temperature here is around 22 degree Celsius, very suitable for the old and the young. You and your family are highly welcome to visit, and you will become the most honored guests of our family!

 

Lastly, wishing you good health and happiness!

 

My Deepest Regards,

 

Your student,

Stone

Apr 26, 2019

A Letter from Ker - A SOAR Scholarship Recipient

Dear SOAR Donors:

I hope all is well with you. My name is Ker, a senior at Zhejiang University, School of Administration. I am very grateful for the SOAR scholarship, which has helped me tremendously. This is the third year I received the scholarship, so SOAR has accompanied me through my college life. I am thankful for SOAR’s assistance and your generous donations.

I realized from a very young age that compared to other families, my family faced more severe financial challenges. Both of my parents are farmers. Although they toiled in the field every day from dawn to dusk, our financial situation didn’t seem to improve.   Being young and not understanding the hardship, I used to feel sad and embarrassed for having to wear my sisters’ hand-me-down cloths. Sometimes, I even threw temper tantrums over that, without noticing the helplessness and exhaustion in my parent’s eyes.   It was not until I passed the rebellious age and left home for school that I started to gradually realize how difficult it was for my parents. It was also during that time that I stopped feeling sorry for myself and realized the importance of study. I may never be equal to other in terms of material possessions, but I can be equal to or even better than others in terms of spiritual pursuit. Although my parents only have elementary school education, they have always been supportive of my education and always tried their best to create opportunities for my academic endeavors.

With persistent effort and support from my teachers and peers, I was admitted by Zhejiang University. However, my parents’ divorce threw us in a deeper financial crisis. It took much effort for my mom to come up with the tuition for my freshman year, and she was facing the prospect of supporting my college education all by herself. It was at that time that I came across SOAR. For the first time in my life, I realized that besides my parents and school, there are other people who care about me and are willing to help me. SOAR provided me with not just the scholarship, but more importantly care and encouragement. Every conversation I have with the SOAR volunteers makes me feel like SOAR is not a cold and indifferent organization, but a place full of love and care that I am proud to be part of.

Time flies. I’m going to graduate this year, which means I’ve come to a new turning point of my life. Looking back at the past three and half years, I had been feeling sorry for myself for a period of time and didn’t dare to take any actions, but eventually I was able to overcome my fears and move forward. Although my grade was disappointing when I first entered the university, I always believed that my efforts would pay off, as shown by the gradual improvement of my grades.   I used to be very self-conscious, quiet, and fearful of public speaking, but now I can express myself in front of others with confidence. I’m proud of myself for such changes. In order to help my mom with our financial situation and gain social and working experience, I worked as a campus representative, student assistant and private tutor. I also worked as summer intern in corporations during summer breaks. I still remember how excited I was when I received my first salary. It made me realize that every penny comes from hard work, and all the hard work deserve to be respected and valued. Last year, I participated in the entrance exam for graduate school. It was not an easy decision to make. My mom was getting old, but still needed to work hard to support me.   I wished to find a job so that she would no longer need to work and could go home to rest.  But on the other hand, I didn’t want to give up the opportunity to further my education. While I was debating, my mom helped me make up my mind. She firmly supported my decision to go to graduate school and said she would do her best to help me. I felt so relieved after I finished the exam. For me, finding a job or going to graduate school are both good options. I believe there are different paths in life, and no matter which path we choose, our journey will be rewarding as long as we always give our best effort.

I feel very lucky to be able to get into my dream university, to have the support of my family, and to be able to receive SOAR’s scholarship over the past few years. I know that there are many other hard-working students who are not able to get college education because of the social-economical constraint in their local areas. In my hometown, for example, many people are not as lucky as I am. My goal is to pass along the faith and spirit of SOAR. In the future, I wish to make my share of contributions to this organization.   When I first received the SOAR scholarship, I realized that it was not merely a token of kindness, but a call for a future duty to bring hope to others, however small that would be.   As a college student, I shouldn’t make it my goal to achieve my own happiness or satisfy my own wishes. Instead, I should take full advantage of the available resources to study hard and make myself useful to our country and society. I think this is the best way I can pay back your kindness.

Thank you again for your help. I deeply cherish SOAR’s spirit, and will endeavor to spread it. I wish good health to your all, and a better future to SOAR.

 

Sincerely yours,

Ker

February 23, 2019

Jan 28, 2019

Daughter of SOAR - Hong L

Dear SOAR volunteers and donors,

I hope all is well with you!

With deep appreciation, I want to say “Thank you! It is your unselfish love that made me who I am today!”

First, let me briefly introduce myself. My name is Hong L. I was born in October 1985 in an impoverished peasant’s family in the mountainous area in Guizhou Province. Now I am a teacher at a rural elementary school, and I teach primarily Chinese, English and music. I have two daughters aged eleven and one. My husband is also a teacher at a rural elementary school.

I am very fortunate, as I was awarded the SOAR scholarship. When I was in my last year of middle school, my older sister was in high school and my younger sister was in her first year of middle school. With the high school entrance exam approaching, and considering the difficult financial situation of my family, I decided to enroll in a normal school so that I could get a job earlier to help my parents to support our family. Both my teachers and classmates tried to persuade me to apply for a top ranking high school, because they had always considered me an excellent student. But in the end I still decided to apply for a normal school. A few days before the entrance exam in 2000, my teacher called me to her office. She asked: “Hong, are you sure you want to apply for a normal school? If so, please fill this form for SOAR scholarship. You have always been a good student so we think you are very likely to be admitted. The scholarship is only awarded to students who apply for normal schools. Hopefully you’ll get it so you can focus on your study.” I was so excited to hear the news. For the first time in my life, good luck bestowed on me!  I still remember clearly how my hand shook when I was filling the form, probably because I was too excited.

I ranked number 1 in the entrance exam in the region and was admitted by Kaili National Normal School. When I heard the details about the scholarship soon after the school started, I was ecstatic, because the scholarship would cover almost the tuition for the entire year.  It would have been a tremendous relief for my family! I felt so lucky at that moment! When I went home during the weekend, I shared the good news with my parents. They were so happy that they couldn’t stop smiling. My mom said with tears in her eyes: “God knows that we need help so He sends help at the most difficult time. We must put you through school, no matter how hard it is. Those nice people cared so much about you and we can’t let them down!” Each year, when I received the scholarship, I would deposit it into a special bank account, and I would give the deposit book to my uncle who worked in the city for safekeeping. This deposit book was a sacred document and no one else could touch it. My uncle would withdraw a certain amount of money from it when I needed to pay for the school registration fee and living expenses. While I was studying at the Normal School, my older sister was studying at Guizhou University, and my younger sister was at Kaili Number One High School, a key high school in Kaili.   I studied diligently at school and actively participated in many academic activities, which helped me grow and improve.

With the three of us attending schools at the same time, the tuition and living expense added up to a significant amount. Both my parents were peasants who earned their living by toiling in the field.   Since we didn’t have enough farm lands, our food supply was only enough to last us for half a year.   My parents had to find other ways to make money in order to buy enough food for the other half of the year. To make it worse, they also had to come up with tuition for us.   The education cost put our family in a severe financial situation. We were probably the poorest family in town, and our house was the ugliest – it was hardly even a wooden board house. But my parents took education seriously. Many people laughed at them for spending so much money on the education of three daughters. What was the point of doing that! But my parents never gave up, and worked strenuously for every penny and dime. They said they were determined to put us through school no matter what price they had to pay. Growing up in such an environment, both my sisters and I were inspired to work extremely hard in our study. One year, at the beginning of a semester, my parents finally managed to come up with the registration fees for my sisters.   Mom’s face finally brightened up. She said to me: “You are so lucky to receive the SOAR scholarship. Otherwise I don’t really know where else we could get more money for your registration fee!”  During the three years at the Normal School, I received over 5,000 RMB for scholarship, which helped me finish my study. The word “SOAR” also rooted itself deeply in my heart, reminding me that I am the daughter of SOAR and a member of the SOAR family!

Soon after I graduated in July 2003, I became a teacher at a rural elementary school. I always tell my colleagues and students that I was assisted by the SOAR scholarship, and that there are many kind people in the world.  Ever since I became a teacher, I have been working very hard. I give my love to each and every one of my students, just like the volunteers at SOAR gave their love to me. For over ten years, my students have always excelled in academic prowess and in other areas. I myself have won many awards in various activities and teaching competitions. Over the years, I’ve given up many opportunities to work in the city, as I think teaching in a rural school fits me better.

In the blink of an eye, 15 years have passed since I graduated from the Normal School. After I graduated, I lost contact with SOAR. But today, after 15 years, I finally got back in touch with them. It feels like I have come home.   Today, I am flourishing in my teaching position, and both of my sisters are doing well in their jobs. We all have our own happy families, and have bought cars and houses in the city. Our big family is also getting better and better. We’ve built a big house and our parents are enjoying their late years.

Without the help of SOAR, I wouldn’t even be close to where I am today. I will remember the love of SOAR forever. I will also try my best to help others, and to spread the love of SOAR.

Finally, I want to thank all the volunteers and donors at SOAR. I deeply cherish your love and will do whatever I can for SOAR whenever needed.

I wish you all the best in your job, health and life.

Sincerely,

Hong L, Daughter of SOAR

November 28, 2018

 
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