Hello everyone, my name is Liu Yan. At Shanghai Sunrise, most people know me by my English name Laura. I became student of Shanghai Sunrise in 2009 and I still remember that my student number was 1431. That means 1430 students had been helped by Shanghai Sunrise before me. At first, I hardly knew anything about Shanghai Sunrise. The only information I had was that somebody helped me. People in my village told me that some foreigner funded my education. I never saw this nice person but I was always grateful in my heart.
At that time, my family situation was particularly hard. My father was disabled and my mother was weak and sickly. They both had no job and lived off farming, which provided very little income. They could only make money once the crops were harvested. They worked hard and sold some of the vegetables to the nearby market but still lived from hand to mouth. I will never forget the scene when they borrowed money for my tuition. In return I wanted to study as hard as I can. When I received the offer from a reputable senior high school, I saw pride, delight and relaxation on my parents’ faces. It seemed all their tiredness had disappeared at that moment.
I really appreciate that Shanghai Sunrise gave us a hand during that hardest time, allowing me to finish my high school and university studies just as confidently as other students. By then, I had attended a Pairing Ceremony and understood Shanghai Sunrise better. It’s not just one foreigner but a group of nice people. It is an international education organization! At the pairing ceremony, it was the first time I saw so many kind people together. There were Chinese, foreigners, Overseas Chinese, compatriots from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao and also our lovely volunteers and staff. I was so excited and uneasy. When I came back to school, I told my classmates I met a lot of foreigners and talked in English. They were both curious and admiring.
Once I went to university, there was more interaction between me and Shanghai Sunrise. I wrote two thank you letters every year and the staff of Shanghai Sunrise would pass them on to my sponsor. All my life and study, all my sadness and happiness were captured in these letters, just like talking to my friends. At first, I was worried about my English and afraid of making mistakes, so I wrote in Chinese. It was my Shanghai Sunrise contact who encouraged me to try to write in English. Slowly, I started to try and the Shanghai Sunrise staff helped me with my grammar and spelling. Little by little, my writing skills improved and I even passed the CET 4 exam the first time. What a surprise! Apart from writing letters, all Shanghai Sunrise sponsored university students would visit high school students living in near suburb during winter and summer vacation to hear about their study and family situation. If they have any problems with their studies, we would try to help. In addition, I volunteered for Shanghai Sunrise when I had some free time, for example during their charity sale.
I have to say Shanghai Sunrise helped me a lot. Not only economically but also my personality. I used to be introvert, inarticulate and even invisible in class. But after attending a few Shanghai Sunrise events with many people, I became braver. I even attended the class cadre campaign, started helping my classmates and living positively. I also benefited from a Shanghai Sunrise ‘Career Day’: During this event, university students about to enter the working world had the chance to hear from a career expert who gave us tips on how to find an internship and how to go about career planning.
After graduation, I worked as an administrative assistant at Shanghai Sunrise for more than one year. I started to know Shanghai Sunrise from the other side and tried my best to help all students. As a student who lived through it, I especially hope students could overcome their psychological distress and study problems. Not just me but the entire Shanghai Sunrise team hopes we can do more than just making a donation. We hope all students can make progress, act responsibly and give back to society. I really hope to see more sponsors join Shanghai Sunrise and change the world, to let more students change their fate through knowledge. I learnt a lot during my time working for Shanghai Sunrise. That was a joyful time in my life. To my regret, I can no longer work on the front line with Shanghai Sunrise due to my career plan and family situation. I currently work as an English training teacher. But whenever Sunrise needs me, I will always be there.