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Shanghai Sunrise adds color to our lives which may otherwise have been gray

Student Testimonial: This is Hugo Sun’s story

In 1996 I was in Grade 3, at that time most of the families were not wealthy, mine was worse than average. My father was disabled because of the car accident, he not only couldn't work normally, but also owed a lot of medical expenses. The burden of the whole family fell on my mother alone, and my tuition has become a great burden to my mother. Just when my family was worried about my tuition fees, the newly established Shanghai Sunrise found us, decided to sponsor my study fees, which is twelve years from my grade three in primary school to my graduation from university.

During these twelve years, I participated in almost all the activities organized by SHSR around the city. This included pairing ceremonies at the Hilton Hotel, a dinner party at Wanjiadenghuo, the picnic at Shanghai SC Johnson, a western dinner in the International Trade Tower, the Art + photography exhibition and more. To this day, I still remember the atmospheres and the positive feelings they evoked in me.

I had several sponsors over the years and because of that, I participated in many pairing ceremonies. I always looked forward to meeting new sponsors because I knew deep down that they cared for me. (It also meant that I would get new school bags and school supplies!) I always tried hard to express my appreciation in English. While our communication was not the smoothest, I always felt a bond. A warm connection that became a bright spot in an otherwise unhappy childhood.

While in junior high, I attended a SHSR picnic that I will never forget. Gathered at the SC Johnson headquarters were so many foreigners. They were all eating and hanging out on the lawn. I had a very strange feeling as if I was in a scene from a book or TV show, only it was real. I was asked to play football with the international students. At first I thought the language barrier would make the game difficult, but that wasn’t the case at all! As it turns out, simple gestures and sportsmanship are universal. The foreigners were accepting of me as they passed me the ball. I scored one goal that game. I was so happy. I understand that SHSR designs these activites to give affection to students in need of help, to broaden horizons and provide amazing experience even the other children do not have.

I must also tell you about the Art + photography activity organized by SHSR. When I was in university, we were offered weekend photography classes held in the classroom of a Shanghai Middle School. Ten years ago, photography was a very trendy new form of art. Art + not only taught photography skills, but gave students a digital camera for free! This was the first digital camera I owned, and I still have it. Our teacher didn't only teach theory, but he took us out into the community and taught us how to find the good spots and shoot. After having a good understanding of these skills, I started taking photos in parks and on campuses. It was the first western class that I found relaxing and enjoyable! To my surprise, when the photography class ended, SHSR partnered with an art studio on Hengshan Road to hold a charity photography exhibition for us. Our student photos were printed and put into large-scale exhibits and displayed in the charity auction. Not only did we have many foreign friends come, but we could also invite our friends. I felt so proud. One of my photos was the largest on display—and it sold! All of the events proceeds were donated to SHSR. Not only had I learned about art, but was able to give back to the organization that has given so much to me.

Once I was in university, I became a SHSR volunteer. I helped organize upcoming pairing ceremonies and conducted field visits to meet students, families and give feedback to SHSR. I remember the longest trip I made was to the junction of Jinshan District and Zhejiang Province- it took the whole day. In hindsight, after learning how to drive, I realized that it wasn't me who was the most tired, but the driver who volunteered to drive us! I believe that everyone who volunteers with SHSR is full of love, and all volunteer work is important no matter what it is.

I am now a member of the Alumni Association of SHSR with other graduates to support more students. Our first sponsored students have graduated from university, a set of twin brothers. We are now sponsoring a second set of students. Adhering to the idea of thanking others for love shown to us, we hope to pass on more love to more people. We sincerely hope to see SHSR grow and help more students like us- down but not out. SHSR adds color to our lives which may otherwise have been gray!

(Here is an invitation letter from art +)

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