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Meet Cherry: One More Reason Why I Teach For China

Check out withGanas.org, a site devoted to the ongoing discussion and reflection of, "What is possible for the children we serve worldwide?" Here's a short reflection they published by me this week along with a video of one of the most inspiring young people (and 2013 Teach For China Fellow!) I've met through my work. More to come on Cherry in the following weeks. For now, Happy Institute 2013 from Teach For China! On July 19, we welcome more than 200 new Chinese and American teachers to our movement to end educational inequity. More to come on that in the following few weeks. In the meantime, I'm going to attempt to get a little sleep...

I met Cherry at a low point. In Teach For China, we were facing placement challenges, our classroom impact measures were unclear, morale was at an all-time low among Fellows and Staff, and news reports were coming out about the 70 percent unemployment rates among recent college graduates in China. After eight years, I was starting to doubt myself, my work and our mission.

And then I met Cherry. After 10 minutes of hearing her story, I not only remembered what it means to have a transformed life path, but I saw what our elementary and middle school students right now can and must become one day.

Like Cherry, they can grow up in impoverished rural households where parents make little more than 450 USD as laborers, and can still become the resilient, vision-driven young adults with dozens of career and life opportunities waiting for them. Just like Cherry, our students may be encouraged to quit school to work in factories or farms to support their families, but can still be the first in their village to go to university. And just like Cherry, they can be the change-makers in the communities we serve.

Since meeting Cherry, I've interviewed more than a dozen young adults in China whose life opportunities have been dramatically expanded, regardless of where they were born. Each of their stories is different--some went to college while others didn't. It's from their experiences--as well as the academic research and interviews with dozens of families and students we serve--that we've defined our understanding of transformational impact in modern China.

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