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!
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