Teen volunteers honored in Washington

China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-05-19 11:24

Teen volunteers honored in Washington

Sixteen-year-old Zhang Tianyu never thought about receiving an international award for her volunteer work. For her, "the most important part of being a volunteer is offering help to others, not gaining honor for myself."

Still, Zhang could not hide her excitement during her all-expense-paid trip to Washington to receive the award. Wang Mengqi, 17, also won an award for her contributions as a volunteer.

At a gala on May 7, Zhang and Wang, both from the Chinese mainland, were honored at the 22nd US Prudential Spirit of Community Awards at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where they also received a personal congratulation from Olympic multiple gold medalist Michael Phelps.

The award ceremony is held each May to honor America's top two youth volunteers from each state. Also attending the Sunday event were top honorees from Prudential Spirit of Community Awards programs in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India and Brazil.

In March, Zhang and Wang were named top youth volunteers by China's Pramerica Fosun Spirit of Community Awards program by Prudential in the Chinese mainland.

Zhang, a sophomore at Montverde Academy Shanghai, created a radio program dedicated to raising awareness of the needs of children in underdeveloped areas.

"I started this program after I became a volunteer of 'Ifly,' a campaign that helps rural teachers in China," Zhang told China Daily. "After talking to the rural teachers, I realized that rural kids were experiencing unhappy childhood because their parents were working far away in big cities and could not take care of them.

"They lack love from parents," she said, "so I wanted to do something to bring them warmth. I wanted to show them that people care about them."

The program has reached more than 15,000 people.

Wang, an 11th grader from the High School Affiliated to Beijing Renmin University, was honored for establishing an academic best practice sharing platform in her school and raising tuition money for kids in need.

"Our project is not like many other non-profit projects that have specific themes," Wang said. "We just spot the people who need help and then help them as best we can."

When Wang was transitioning from junior high to high school, she noticed the anxiety of younger students who were about to enter intense academic competition. She then organized a knowledge-sharing workshop, inviting top students from each subject to share their academic experiences with younger students.

Wang also got the volunteers to sell their study notes, donating the proceeds to a school in Inner Mongolia where they paid tuition for six third graders. Over the years, 200 volunteers have participated in the program and five internet chat groups have been established to support their activities.

During their DC trip, Zhang and Wang joined the other international honorees sharing their experience and perspectives as volunteers.

"It is my honor to have been there and meet all those people with the heart to help," she added. "This is something that reminds me that what I'm doing is worthwhile."

"We, as teenagers want to start with the tiniest effort to show the world how bright the future can be," said Wang.

Xiao Jiaqiao and Hong Xiao in New York contributed to this story.


Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349