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Students Voice: Cindy Son

28 November 2017

On Sunday, 5 November 2017 I attended the 21st Annual Shanghai Sunrise Pairing Ceremony at Hilton Shanghai. Shanghai Sunrise is a non-profit organization raising funds for educational scholarships for underprivileged and at-risk young people in Shanghai. Its principle belief is that a good education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and creating a better future for young people and their families. 

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Since 1996 by defining their mission as “to equip disadvantaged young people through education; to empower them to realize fulfilling careers, attain greater life opportunities and become positive forces within their community”, Shanghai Sunrise has raised almost 11,000 scholarships. With these scholarships, students who otherwise would not have a chance to continue their education, can pursue their dreams through education.

The Student Pairing Ceremony is a valuable opportunity for both students and sponsors to meet and get to know each other. Before I attended the ceremony, I was nervous because I was not sure whether I could communicate with students with my Chinese ability. However, I later realized that all my worries were useless; I had a wonderful time meeting and working with the students on my table.

The ceremony included a light Afternoon Tea, a series of interactive student-sponsor games, a lucky draw prize and a Group Photo. I sat with seven students on one table; all of the students were sponsored by our school. They were from different schools such as Chongming high school, Wenjian high school, Pudong high school and Shanghai high school. As we were similar ages, we easily became instant friends with each other. In our conversation we used both Chinese and English; all of us spoke slowly so that everyone can understand the conversation.

Then, we played two interactive games in tables. The first game was to guess whether a coin landed with its head or tail. Luckily, I won the game and got a small prize. The second game was much more interactive and fun as it required cooperation and collaboration. A picture was shown for two minutes; after that, each table had to produce a piece of drawing by only relying on our memory. Our table did not win the game, but I felt we became much closer to each other.

Although the conversations and activities were very entertaining and fun, the highlight of the day happened at the end of the ceremony. When I was about to leave the ceremony hall, a girl approached me. She said, with a shaking voice, that she could not come to the ceremony because she had to attend another event, but she always appreciated the support and would work very hard in order to return our favor.

This encounter made the ceremony and the day valuable and unforgettable; it led me to consider how the same amount of money may possess different values when it is used in different ways. When sponsored by Shanghai Sunrise, a high school student gets 3000 RMB per year, which is 250 RMB per month. The 250 RMB that she gets every month is the reason that she can continue her study and pursue her dream.

Education is the most effective way to eradicate poverty. It is much more beneficial than blindly giving money because it provides less fortunate people a wider range of opportunity to earn income in the future. Moreover, it allows them to have a “hope” that they will be able to pursue and achieve their dreams. During the ceremony, the chairman of the Shanghai Sunrise talked about how the students, who were support by the charity grew up and became the sponsors of their students who are in similar positions as they once were. I think this is how we establish a virtuous cycle, which will make a difference in the world. 

Summing up, Shanghai Sunrise Pairing Ceremony provided me with an amazing opportunity to interact with the students sponsored by our school. However, more importantly, it allowed me to realize the importance of the service works that we do at school and how those can make a big difference in our society – maybe much bigger than what we think!