Concordia Shanghai Nov 13 2023

Concordia Students Expanding Horizons Through Reading Hope

What draws individuals from all across the globe into a united community? It is the spirit of service. At Concordia, the concept of "service" has been deeply embedded in our school’s ethos from the very beginning. As global citizens, we’ve been committed to finding new ways to serve—not just locally but worldwide.

Last school year alone, we carried out 21 service initiatives, each making a profound difference. One notable example is Reading Hope, a student-led club dedicated to promoting equitable education through the donation of books and the creation of libraries for migrant and underfunded schools around the world.


This year, Reading Hope is expanding its horizons and inviting the broader community to join in by holding a book drive from November 13 to 24. This way the entire school community can help make a lasting difference in the lives of others.

“We’ve reached out to three schools in Cambodia so far this year who are in need of books, but a challenge we have is finding the right books to give. Our book drive welcomes as many books as possible, especially PreK-Grade 1 reading materials,” explains Sonja L. (C’24), Nicole L. (C’24), and Mian Z. (C’26), current student leaders of Reading Hope.

A Spark Ignited in 2018

In 2018, a group of high school students, inspired by images of migrant schools in Shanghai, founded Reading Hope. Struck by the need they saw, they embarked on a mission to collect gently used books from within our school community and dispatched them to these schools. The success of their efforts strengthened their resolve, driving them to extend their reach beyond Shanghai and touch the lives of children in other cities and countries.

Thanks to Concordia’s tight-knit community and a strong network of alumni students and faculty, Reading Hope has been able to expand the impact of their service. Over the years, the club has also partnered with Concordia’s NGO partners—CWEF (Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation), Shining Star, and the Garuna Foundation—to deliver books to schools in Guangzhou, Yunnan, as well as locations in Cambodia, Thailand, Russia, and Laos. In addition to books, the club has donated bookshelves to build reading rooms in schools in need.

Passing on the Legacy

For each drive, club members diligently select, catalog, package, and dispatch the donated books. To date, Reading Hope has gathered and gifted more than 3,000 books, some of which came from our own school libraries thanks to the support of the Concordia Fund.


Though the founding members of the group have graduated, the club’s core mission has remained strong. According to Sonja L., the current members have even drawn inspiration from the actions of their predecessors. “While going through the files that a former student leader Athena K. passed on to us, we realized that she did a lot of fundraising activities to keep the club going, which is quite inspirational. So we decided to have a book drive as well. We thought we should be doing more to promote this initiative.”  

Servant leadership has always been a core value of Concordia. As noted by Dr. Chris Mizel, teacher advisor of Reading Hope, “We serve because of the many blessings we have received. Those who have been shown love and care have the responsibility to pass that love and care on to others.”

Ready to join the Reading Hope book drive? It’s your chance to be part of something truly special!