June 18, 2012
This fall, Give2Asia celebrates its 10th anniversary and showcases milestones from our decade of impact in Asia. Give2Asia’s first grant in 2001 focused on education in China. Soon after Give2Asia officially opened, the Robert N. Chang Foundation began working with Give2Asia to support scholarships for 38 students at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Chang’s alma mater.
Over the decade since that first grant, Give2Asia has grown from an idea born within The Asia Foundation to a leader in international philanthropy for Asia. In our first two years, Give2Asia made 19 grants worth $2.4 million and now makes 400 grants annually worth over $20 million.
Still, some things have not changed. China and education remain top priorities, receiving more funding each year than any other country and field of interest. Also constant is the dedication of the Robert N. Chang Foundation to students who struggle financing their education. Starting with that first grant, the foundation has now given over $1 million to its partnership with Give2Asia for scholarships at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and other Chinese schools to help students with demonstrable financial difficulties. When Robert Chang passed away in 1999 Allan Liu, Chang’s nephew, became the president of the foundation and continues to honor his legacy by funding and developing the scholarship program each year. Liu and his wife also travel to Shanghai annually to meet the foundation’s scholars in person.
Here are the stories of two scholarship recipients who benefited from our first grant in 2001.
Jiang Yan is from Congming County, Shanghai where her family earned a meager 500RMB a month (about US$60 at the time) as farmers when she entered university. With tuition at Shanghai Jiao Tong over twice her family’s yearly income, she wasn’t sure she could afford to attend.
“I am from a farmer’s family with low and unstable income. Without [the] scholarship, I would have not finished my studies in the university successfully,” wrote Jiang Yan. “Every time when I recall my 4-year campus life, I have a strong feeling in my heart that cannot be expressed.”
After receiving her scholarship for four years, Jiang graduated to become a data warehouse engineer with eBay. Looking back on her university career, she remembered fondly meeting Mr. and Mrs. Liu, and offering them a small bonsai plant as a thank you gift.
“In my opinion, the scholarship has not only supported us, the poor students, financially but also let us… learn about social responsibility.”
As a high school student, Xin Ye did not think he would be able to attend university due to financial difficulties. In his second year of high school, Xin’s family was struck by many unexpected financial burdens, beginning when his father lost his job. During his father’s prolonged period of unemployment, the tractor factory where his mother worked forced her into early retirement, leaving his 82-year-old grandmother’s RMB500-a-month pension (approximately US$60) as the family’s only income. Shortly after, his family depleted the remainder of its modest savings on diabetes treatment for his grandmother – including the surgery to remove both her legs.
“I still remember when I received the enrollment letter of the university, all of my family members were both happy and sad. On one hand, I did my best and realized my dream – being enrolled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University,” wrote Xin Ye. “On the other hand, the high tuition fees and living expense which are around RMB 10,000 – 20,000 per year in Shanghai made us worried very much.”
Knowing he could not rely on his family for financial support, Xin Ye applied for every loan and scholarship he could find. Still short on money for living expenses, he began working as a computer salesman when he wasn’t in the classroom, earning an extra RMB1,500 a month.
“During my study in the university, I have never had a sense of inferiority [because of] my poor family background and have never worried about the high tuition fees,” wrote Xin Ye. “Meanwhile, my father is very proud of me. Every time when I spent Chinese Spring Festival with my family, I always heard about his saying: “my son has never asked for money from me!”
Xin Ye graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Agriculture and Biology in 2006.