Passing The Torch

Yuan Wen (President 2015 July--current)

In 1997, several nearly 70 years old elders founded Shin Shin Educational Foundation (SSEF) in the Bay Area . Out of their meager retirement savings, they donated funds to help their home town in the northeast China rebuild impoverished schools. In the United States, their charity moved and gathered enthusiastic groups of overseas Chinese to join in. This was how I was moved to join SSEF. Because of this, my life became more wonderful and meaningful. For six years, I served as a regional manager for SSEF, and I helped promote the SSEF's partnership with the students from the Fudan University where I graduated, to support educational projects and build the SSEF's Northwest teacher training centers. Later on, I was leading the efforts for the facility improvement projects. In retrospect, when the founding elders lit the torch with “Shin Shin's fire", now this has been extended to the whole country in China. For 18 years, SSEF has raised millions of dollars for China's 25 provinces and autonomous regions, and rebuilt more than 340 schools. Even more significantly, SSEF received an approval from the Chinese government in 2013 to establish a China representative office in Beijing.

In July 2015, I was very honored to take over the torch of the President of SSEF. I am well aware how heavy this responsibility are on my shoulders, and how long the road is on my foot! But I am determined and confident to take on the trust passed along from generations of people through SSEF. We will let the torch of fire continue to carry out future development. We will continue to explore the path of infusing science and technology into rural education and achieve a leap development. In addition, we will come back to the essence of education, providing a variety of projects to strengthen the quality of education for children's balanced physical and mental development. We will rely on the SSEF's representative office in China to effectively organize domestic volunteers and implement various projects, while strengthening the partnership with other domestic and international organizations aiming at shortening the gap between urban and rural education, and synergizing our efforts with community resources.

In summer 2015, I went back China to visit the Shin Shin schools, and again I was touched by children's innocent faces. Their eyes, full of a thirst for knowledge and desire for the future, are unforgettable. This motivated me to continue the road for SSEF. I am also deeply grateful to many generous donors , ardent supporters, selfless volunteers, as well as to organizational partners. Your support and care, love and devotion have been leading SSEF to reach the achievements of today. We hope more people will join us to continue the fire and pass the torch, that gives the children the opportunity to make their dream come true!

Reaching the Next Level

(Steve Ting: President 2010-2015, Chief Representative of the SSEF Beijing Office, Director of the SSEF Strategy/Marketing Team.)

Strong sense of mission

Rapid changes in China, a strong desire to continue improving the educational environment in Shin Shin schools, and our ultimate goal of reducing the educational disparity between rural and urban regions, inspired scores of our volunteers to act. They spent their precious time, energy, and money traveling to poverty stricken and mountainous regions in rural China to visit schools and participate in Shin Shin’s educational programs. Volunteers obtained the latest information on economic and educational development and challenges in China, and provided valuable insight for future programs. Their effort, together with the excellent support from Foundation volunteers in the States, is the clear reflection of a strong sense of commitment and of overall mission.

To the next level and making greater impact

Shin Shin has applied three stages of development over the past fourteen years: Stage I – school construction/renovation, Stage II – basic facility improvement, and Stage III – educational initiatives/programs. While the effort of school construction/renovation and facility improvement continue, the demand to enhance the learning environment (including educational hardware, software, and teaching/learning techniques) in those disadvantaged rural schools is ever mounting. We have taken a series of steps to further strengthen our educational programs and to position ourselves for greater impact.

To deepen appreciation of China’s educational policy, collaborate closer with our partners and beneficiaries, and recruit in-country volunteers to further carry out Shin Shin’s effort, an application was submitted to the Chinese government to establish a Representative Office in Beijing.

Aspiration and inspiration

In 2011, I, jointly with many devoted volunteers, have visited 30 schools in 7 provinces and worked as a Teaching Assistant for the ECTT centers in both Hunan and Gansu. During the trip, I had to hold back my tears when I was surrounded by cheerful students who were happily sitting in newly renovated, but simple and basic, classrooms yelling out “How are you, Grandpa!” and, when village teachers warmly held my hand and eagerly told me how grateful and motivated they were by our efforts and service spirit. They praised us for our generosity, dedication, positive impact, and most importantly, our sustained efforts. I’m deeply inspired by volunteers’ diligent efforts, donors’ generosity, and the support from our partners and government agencies, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Together, we are making a difference!