While China's economic growth impresses the world, many may not recognize the necessity of helping elementary schools in rural China. But Shin Shin Educational Foundation and the Cupertino Rotary Club see a different story.
"There are two Chinas, and I've seen the second China," said Cupertino Vice Mayor and former Cupertino Rotary president Orrin Mahoney Saturday at the year-end celebration and fundraising showcase event of Shin Shin, a Cupertino-based foundation founded in 1997 to reduce the disparity in the quality of education between urban and rural areas in China.
Mahoney used a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate poverty in "the second China." Some of the slides showed how Mahoney and other Rotarians rode camels or walked through mud to get to China's rural elementary schools with crummy buildings, few books and a shortage of computers.
To improve the learning environment of rural Chinese children, Mahoney said Cupertino Rotary has donated over $300,000 to Shin Shin projects over the past six years, during which 41 Rotarians and friends have visited Shin-Shin-assisted schools in China.
Shin Shin currently serves 333 rural elementary schools in 25 provinces of China, according to Steve Ting, president of the foundation.
Ting said Shin Shin's work in rural China has gone through three stages: first to construct and remodel school buildings; then to improve facilities such as donating books and computers; finally to work on teacher training.
Shin Shin established an English and computer training program in 2005 to improve teacher quality in rural China. Ting said the summer program has trained nearly 800 teachers over the past six years.
According to Ting, Shin Shin used to have only one teacher training center in Hunan Province, where extreme heat and humidity in summer affected attendance. But this year Shin Shin's second teacher training center in Gansu Province (in northwestern China) attracted many teachers, especially those from surrounding areas.
Ting attributed Shin Shin's continuous growth to tireless volunteers and partner organizations. At Saturday's event, Shin Shin presented awards to distinguished volunteers as well as its corporate partner, Synaptics Corporation.
James Harrington, Synaptics' senior vice president of global human resources, represented the company to receive the award. He said Synaptics is a global company that will always to contribute to global communities in a socially responsible manner.
"We cannot agree more with the mission of Shin Shin," Harrington said.
Another award recipient, Shin Shin volunteer Jing Sun, named a personal reason for her devotion to the foundation—she was once a child in an impoverished village of China's Jilin Province (in northeastern China). Now an engineer at Google, Sun said she considers it her mission to help children who suffer what she once suffered.
"I've come a long way," said Sun. "I'm working with Shin Shin to help more children find their way to success."
Before giving out awards, Shin Shin received a proclamation from the City of Cupertino Saturday. Besides Mahoney, Mayor Mark Santoro and Councilman Gilbert Wong also represented the city council to recognize Shin Shin's endeavors.
At the end of Saturday's event, Shin Shin's Chief Finanical Officer Helen Yang reported that the foundation received donations of $45,000 and pledges of $17,000 for the entire afternoon. Yang said Shin Shin's annual operating costs amount to around $700,000, and thus needs more financial support.