Service and global citizenship are woven into the culture and teachings at Concordia International School Shanghai. Since its establishment 25 years ago, the school has been providing students with opportunities to initiate or be part of service programs in various ways. Among all the educational service projects, the partnership between Concordia and Guangzhou-based NGO Shining Star is a very unique story.
(Kathe B. and Diya P. (Class of ’24) teach kids resilience in a Guangzhou community center)
“Concordia students help us in many different ways which makes the distance between us not a problem,” says Summer Tan, co-founder of Shining Star.
(Summer Tan presents at High school Assembly at Concordia in Feb. 2023)
MAKING A DIFFERENCE TOGETHER
Officially established in 2017, Shining Star aims to help children and young people to feel loved, confident, positive, and develop into well-balanced people, and pass on this love and hope to others. Thus far, more than 1,000 Concordia students, including many faculty and staff, have volunteered with the organization, providing educational and social emotional support for left-behind children in Guangzhou.
After returning from their service trip in Guangzhou, two Concordia High School students Katelyn K. (Class of ’22) and Jessie S. (Class of ’22) set up a club to continue the support for these left-behind kids. Since then, the club continues to thrive, now under the leadership of Ella M. (Class of ’24) and Sunny Z (Class of ’24).
According to Summer, during the COVID pandemic, Concordia students helped to collect second-hand books, iPads and computers for primary school students in rural areas and became pen pals with some of these left-behind kids. They also wrote Shining Star stories to raise more public awareness and organized fundraising events.
(Katelyn K. [Class of ’22])
(Angie S. [Class of ’21])
SERVING WITH A SHARED VALUE
“For me, Concordia is like a family,” says Summer Tan. Back in 2010, she was one of the recipients of the Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation (CWEF) high school scholarship program. After Shining Star was just created, Concordia supported Summer and her co-founding team in many ways and called on students to be volunteers to support left-behind kids in Guangzhou. “Most importantly, Concordia always trusted us unconditionally,” adds Summer. “What we [Shining Star] are trying to do is not an easy thing. From the leadership to the teachers and students, Concordia trusts us so much and supports what we need.”
(Jessie S. [Class of ’22] in Guangzhou)
All this is because of a shared value. As Summer puts it, “We [Concordia and Shining Star] share the same value to the community. We care and love and value the people around us, and we always try our best to make a difference.”
Hear what Concordia students say about their service experiences in Guangzhou:
It was one of the best experiences of my life. The feeling of teaching and meeting these kids is the most fulfilling I have ever felt. You will never forget these kids. —Micah Baermann (Class of ’20)
Other students should participate in a weekend like this because it simply changes you, from the way you talk, to how you treat people. I now have the patience and the love that I share with the children and can share it with the Concordia community. —Ryan Wu (Class of ’20)
On this trip I learned about how people are aware that they are important. I even started to reflect and thought about why I’m important which made me feel thankful about this trip because normally in school life I wouldn’t think about that. —Judy Kwon (Class of ’20)
It was such an amazing experience that it was good for learning leadership skills, meeting adorable kids, having a lot of fun in general, and helping those that need care or assistance. —Kelly Wu (Class of ’20)
With COVID travel restrictions lifted, Concordia is planning a 3-day service trip to Guangzhou in April, when high school students will work with Shining Star to provide a program of social-emotional learning and support for left-behind children at a local village community center. The school is also exploring an opportunity for students to travel to Guangzhou for a week-long summer camp program in August.
“Through service projects like our work with Shining Star, students are able to grow in their ability to empathize and lead in times when compassion and mercy are needed,” shares Dr. Chris Mizel, Sr. Director of Faculty Care and Identity, who coordinates our service and charity programs at Concordia. “The hope is that through these experiences, Concordia students will go from this place and continue to be servant leaders throughout the globe.”