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A Shanghai Sunrise Is a Beautiful Thing

16 December 2014

A very important ceremony recently took place in Shanghai. It didn’t involve any celebrities or heads of state, but this ceremony will have a profound impact on all involved; in fact, it will change lives.

Each year, through fundraising work by the BISS Pudong Community Group and our students, our school provides 64,000RMB to support 16 local Chinese students to continue and complete their education, through the charity Shanghai Sunrise.

In October, student leaders on the Charities Committee attended a pairing ceremony to meet the students who will be assisted this year.

Since its formation in 1995, Shanghai Sunrise has provided scholarships for more than 10,000 elementary school, high school, university and technical college students.  The programme supports a migrant school with 31 students, but its main work is with students from 18 districts in Shanghai. Dina Chong Watkins, Executive Director of Shanghai Sunrise, explains, “The students Shanghai Sunrise supports are from working poor families, their combined monthly income is under 3,000RMB for a family of three to four. On average we support 500 students per year.”

Among the many who have received the assistance is second-year university student, Xia Ya Qing who, along with his twin brother, has been in the programme for the past three years. Xia’s mother was unable to meet the cost of her sons’ tuition in high school from her income as a government clerk. School is only compulsory in China until Grade 9, and the cost of tuition beyond that is prohibitive for many families.

The boys applied for the Shanghai Sunrise programme and were accepted in Year 11. Xia says the support not only allowed him to finish high school, but also for him and his brother to continue their studies at university saying, “Being supported allows me to put all my energy into study.”

Now studying at Shanghai Foreign Languages University (Shanghai Wai Guo Da Xue) Xia’s plan is to become a teacher of Mandarin as a foreign language; while his brother us currently studying Business.

Xia’s experience is a great example of the ripple effect of the work done by Shanghai Sunrise. His sponsors, a group of university graduates, were themselves supported by Shanghai Sunrise to complete their education, and are now intent on giving back and making a difference to the next generation. Now in contact with them through QQ, Xia is humbled by their generosity and it has prompted him to follow their lead. He says, “I have started doing voluntary work… it’s a way for me to give back to society. Over the summer, I volunteered to teach English in Qinghai.”

As well as financial assistance, Shanghai Sunrise runs programmes aimed at expanding the learning experiences of the students. “Our English Corner programme gives our students the opportunity to practise their English with native speakers. Career Day is an event for our university students in which volunteers and sponsors present career-related lectures and workshops… We also have ongoing fundraising events and invite our students to help us, giving them a chance to work with our volunteers and give back to the charity,” Dinah explains.

Community Group events throughout the year raise funds to support the school charities, including Shanghai Sunrise. Shanghai Sunrise was invited to attend the recent BISS Pudong Christmas Bazaar to fundraise and increase awareness of their important work.

For more information about the charity and its work, go to