NAIS Pudong, we promote global awareness and encourage viewing the world from many different perspectives through our purposeful, inquiry-based cross-curricular lessons.
We encourage kindness and empathy towards others through our weekly kindness spotlight assemblies, where we celebrate each other's talents and successes and the focus is to try the best we can to give back to our local community.
Leyi from NAIS Pudong has recently been honoured as one of the
brightest students in the world by The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY).
She was one of nearly 19,000 students from 84 countries who joined CTY in the 2020 -21 Talent Search year. Less than 20 percent of CTY Talent Search participants qualified for CTY High Honours Awards and she is one of them.
Haing proved that she is ambitious in her pursuit of academic excellence, she has also started to show a real community responsibility. Leyi has started an initiative called “Save gifts to save a child” where she is aiming to raise 15000 CNY in donations, an amount which will then be matched by the CEO of Delta Health.
Let's hear her story.
Q: First of all, we’d like to congratulate you on achieving the Johns Hopkins Talented Youth Award, very good evidence of your academic excellence. Can you share the experience you had with them?
To participate in the John Hopkin’s talent search to me was a very exciting, scary and proud experience. First, I felt so proud to be invited to take part in this talent search. When I was studying in the US, I knew only the top 5% students in our school were selected to take part in the search. During that time, we all admired those big kids very much! I could not imagine that one day, I would be able to be like that. But as they say, “everything is impossible until you do it.” It is one of my favorite quotes and I often follow it to encourage me to do what I thought was impossible before.
The test was very intense and since it was during the pandemic, we did it virtually. They asked for an entirely empty room, only me and a laptop. Becuase they were able to scan the room so it felt like they were monitoring my every move. I was very nervous. The problems were quite tough, I wasn’t even able to finish my maths test because the time ran out! To be honest, I didn’t expect a lot. It was such a surprise to know I am not only selected as one of the Talented Youths, but also won the CTY High Honors Awards.
I am so proud of myself and grateful to my amazing teachers and our school. I know none of this would be possible without them. I enjoy my time in the school so much, because my teachers always make learning so exciting. They never stop challenging me, and supporting me at the same time. Because all of this, I am learning to challenge myself to more ambitious goals every day.
Q: We also heard you helped raise money for two kids’ surgeries through your “save gifts to save a child” initiative and some charity sales with friends this year. Can you talk about this effort?
I started my initiative “Save gifts to save a child” on my 10th birthday. The idea was we are so blessed to live in an environment with enough of everything we need, most of the time, more than we need. When you have something more than you need, actually it is a kind of waste. Whilst there are some kids out there, they don’t live lives as we do. They don’t have any toys, books or stationery, even more sadly, some of the kids were born with health conditions which need immediate treatment. They could not get it because the family doesn’t have enough money.
The goal of my initiative is to put gifts into better use, to save lives of these children in need.
On my 10th birthday, my friends came to celebrate with me with their kind donation instead of gifts. With our 1 year effort, we raised money to support 1 heart surgery with the help of Heart to Heart (H2H). The girl’s name is Hanxian. She is 13 years old from Shandong. She had her open-heart surgery on July 2nd, and recovered fast and well. When I shared this news with my friends, we all felt so happy, someone is having a better life because of us!
The 2nd girl Sangcuo is 10 years old girl from Tibet. She had her surgery on July 22nd as a result of the money my friends Sara, Marco, Giacomo, my sister Happy and my Charity sale. We worked hard; everything is worthwhile when the moment we met Sangcuo after her surgery.
Q: What motivates you to start initiatives like this?
One weekend, we went to a Sunday Market with our friends. There were so many interesting stalls, one of them caught my eye, it was Heart to Heart. Two people were making bears to raise money for kids’ heart surgeries. We volunteered to be the bear sales person on that day to help raise money. We had so much fun helping and I learned 3 things on that day which I never thought of before. First, there are so many children in China who were born with heart disease, while they couldn’t get the surgery they need because the family couldn’t afford it. I can’t imagine how sad it could be as a child who couldn’t have a normal life, go to school or play with friends…. How sad and helpless their parents must feel when they don’t have enough money to save their children. The second, how lucky we are! We often forget this though. Third, though we are still children, we can help the people in need using our own efforts, to share our blessings.
From that day, I can’t get this idea out of my mind. “How” “How can I help them using my own effort?”
Until one day, one of my friends came to me to ask what birthday gift I would like to have. This was usually one of the most exciting moments every year. Because I love gifts! While this year, I was even more excited, because I had a great idea! – My initiate “Save gifts to save a child”!
Q: Is there any story you would like to share with us when working on this project?
The most challenging part of my experience is how to make it a joint effort. Because to fully sponsor a heart surgery costs RMB30,000. It is not a small amount, especially to us as kids. Only through a joint effort, can we save more lives, and make even more impact.
After my birthday, through my Dad’s introduction, I got to know Mr. David Hoidal, CEO of Delta Health. It is a hospital which is very good at all kinds of heart surgery. I wrote a letter to him to introduce my initiative. He really liked my idea and was very impressed by our efforts. He decided to match our fund to be part of the initiative. Which means if we raise RMB15,000, he will donate RMB15,000, so with the same effort, we can save more children. I am really happy and grateful for their support. I know there are so many kind people are ready to help, we need to find out how to invite them to join!
Q: How does it feel to help people and what’s the feeling you have when you meet those who you helped?
Oh my god! There is nothing better than this! Sara, Marco, Happy and I got the chance to meet Sangcuo after her surgery. She is 10 years old. She is from Tibet, so far away from Shanghai. It took them several days to travel to Shanghai to have this surgery. We were all very shy when we first saw each other. She has very beautiful eyes that were telling us she wanted to make friends. We showed her the magic tricks we prepared. She couldn’t help but say “wow” at every trick. Then we gave her the whole magic set as a gift. She was really excited and said she couldn’t wait to show her friends back home. Then we talked a lot about school, her home town, her trip to Shanghai, … everything like old friends. Her parents also came to say thank you! Sangcuo is their only daughter, they can’t believe how lucky they are! They have been waiting for this surgery for 6 years since Sangcuo was diagnosed with heart disease when she was 4.
The happiest thing to me is now I can imagine Sangcuo sitting in her classroom learning, playing football in the field, riding horses on grasslands, celebrating her birthday with her parents and showing magic tricks to her friends…I am so happy she is now having a healthy and happy life, just like one of us.
Q: Anything else you would like to say to people who would like to help others but don't know where to start?
I know we all want to help! Don’t worry about how small a step it is. Together we can make a big difference. H2H really likes our “Save gifts to save a child” initiative, they gave us a special QR code, so scan the code and you can immediately make a donation to H2H, every penny is important to a heart surgery. And if you would like to donate from your birthday like me, then please contact me. My friends and I will help you organise everything. We will make sure you have the most fun and meaningful birthday ever! So please join us! We are going to do amazing things together this year!