I am Jialing Shi from the beautiful and peaceful Hengsha island of Chongming district. 我是施佳玲，来自崇明横沙，上海的世外桃源。
I remember how hot it was the summer of my mother’s operation. We didn’t know if she would be able to work again. While my father earned what he could doing tempary jobs in Shanghai, I knew I was needed at home. I would not be able to go school in downtown Shanghai as I’d planned, but now hoped to stay in my local high school on Chongming Hengsha island. My applications for aid were unanswered until Teacher Ding and an interviewer arrived at our home one scorching hot summer day. That was the day my I started my journey with Shanghai Sunrise, ten years ago.
Nervous and excited to attend the first event with my sponsor, I traveled from Chongming Hengsha to Baoshan the day before. I wanted to be sure that I did not miss the event! Unfortunately, my sponsor was not there. Disapointed at first, I began to realize how many people, including expats, cared and were willing to help students like me. I felt gratitude and this started to positively change how I saw the world.
I communicated with my sponsor by writing letters. Not knowing how to start, or what to say, I was nervous. I revised my first letter many times before sending it. I even asked my English teacher for help! I remember getting feedback that the letter was too formal, and that I needed to add more emotion, to be myself. Looking back, I smile when I think about that first letter and how much I have grown.
Determined not to disappoint - and to show my appreciation- I worked very hard in school. I kept a positive spirit and met all expectations of the school. Because of my determination, I was accepted into University. I was once again very lucky because this was the first year that Sunrise offered scholarships to help college students, and I was one of them.
As a university student I engaged in more Shanghai Sunrise events than I had before. In addition to the Sponsor Pairing Ceremony, I partipicated in the Rickshaw event, Charity Sale, Career Day and company visits. During school holidays I volunteered to visit other students and their families. My horizons broadened. One day I saw the interviewer who had arrived at my home that hot summer day when my future was still unknown. She commented on how much more confident I had become. I am confident, brave, active and creative, thanks to Shanghai Sunrise.
Afer graduating in 2016, I worked for an airline company. Last year, I moved back home where the situation has improved since that summer ten years ago. My mother’s health is better now. I work for the local township finance department and am close to my family.
To me, Shanghai Sunrise is more than a charity that gives financial support. It has become a community that mentored me to be positive. It helped me establish a better view of the world. My sponsors, the sponsors of students, the staff, and volunteers never looked down on our starting point in life. They only built us up. That is more important than just helping with money.
There is a saying in Chinese that teaches us that the greatest luck in life is not money, nor winning. Instead, it is to have someone believe in us and to encourage us to be the best versions of ourselves. Shanghai Sunrise has been that for me, and I am very grateful.
Time flies and life changes, but Shanghai Sunrise will always be a part of me. I will always continute to give to them the same support that they gave to me. It has been my pleasure to share my story with you.