WS Cares is an action plan to invest in people changing the world. WomanScape has pledged 20% of our WS Magazine subscription fees each month to build financial support for organizations like Ching Tien’s, Educating Girls in Rural China (EGRC).
We profiled Ching and EGRC in our PARADOX issue of WS Magazine. In our next issue CINEMATICS, we shared two additional and very personal stories of young women whose lives were changed because of Ching’s work. As a transformative leader challenging dire poverty and inequalities in today’s world, Ching is harnessing change by giving young girls living in rural parts of China access to opportunities and an education they would never have.
Here are two new stories of powerful change about Xiaxia Zhang and Meifen Gong. We hope you’ll share them with family and friends, and continue to offer your support.
Xiaxia is studying a master’s degree at China Agricultural University in Beijing, with support from an EGRC sponsorship in 2014.
As a shy girl from a rural area in Western China, Xiaxia has grown tremendously since starting university. She remembers being incredibly embarrassed during her first computer class because she had never seen a PC.
As a young student studying away from home, Xiaxia often felt lonely and helpless living in a strange city like Beijing. Fortunately, the EGRC alumni network provided a caring community for girls with similar backgrounds like Xiaxia’s, helping her to feel understood and supported through EGRC events and programs.
Over time, Xiaxia was able to venture out of her comfort zone and became more social and proactive about advocating for herself during her four-year program. When Xiaxia graduated, she won a national scholarship and paid for her parents to come to Beijing as her graduation gift.
Today, Xiaxia is pursuing a Master of Science Degree in Animal Husbandry Engineering at China Agricultural University.
She describes herself very differently today, saying: “I am not a timid girl anymore, but instead I am a young woman who is ready to take on whatever challenges come her way. I was able to do everything that I wanted to do. I learned new skills, and slowly but surely became stronger and tougher. I was also able to give support and encouragement to the people around me.”
Meifen is an outgoing girl from a small town called Yuzhong in Gansu Province. Like Xiaxia, Meifen ventured into the larger world after writing her university entrance exams.
After hearing about the EGRC program, she applied for and won an EGRC scholarship. Meifen used the grant to support her studies at Hubei University of Economics. During her studies, she was fortunate to meet Ching Tien, the founder of EGRC.
Meifen’s interactions with Ching in 2012 made her wonder about the world outside of China. As a result, she answered an advertisement from Qatar Airways hoping to land a job. She would have to go through a very competitive process, but Ching and the EGRC encouraged her to try. Thanks to this support, Meifen was successful and secured a position at Qatar Airways in Doha.
Fast forward to the Spring of 2016, and Meifen returned Gansu to follow-up with Ching. While there, she was shocked to see that even after so many years, the economic situation and social environment for girls in rural areas was still as challenging as ever. At the same time, EGRC was also looking for a program manager to oversee their sponsorship program, alumni network and government relationships.
After careful consideration, Meifen rejoined the EGRC family as an alumni. As a member of the EGRC staff, she helps support other girls who are in similar situations that she experienced as a young woman struggling to find her path.
Meifen is now a Program Manager for the organization. She loves her job and helps to select new students and provide support for the EGRC alumni network. She also manages relationships with local schools and the government.
Her dream is to see all the girls from underprivileged backgrounds have equal opportunities for education and she is committed to doing whatever she can to make that dream a reality.