I’m pleased to be able to introduce you to my new CWEF co-worker in Shanghai: Chen Ming! Chen Ming comes to Shanghai from Sichuan province in central China, where he has worked with CWEF since 2008, assisting us in our earthquake relief work there. Chen Ming also hails from Sichuan.
My joy of having a new co-worker is surpassed by a greater joy: welcoming a new ‘brother’. I’m thrilled to walk with Chen Ming as he starts this journey into Life, and to work with him as we continue to expand the work of CWEF in Shanghai.
So, what will we be working on together? Before I tell you what’s coming up, let me fill you in on what we’ve been doing this fall:
At the end of September, I led a team of 17 students and 3 teachers from Concordia International School Shanghai (CISS) for a week-long activity at our partner migrant school in Jinshan, Shanghai. This trip was one of five trips CWEF designed and led for student groups from CISS as part of the school’s annual ‘Interim’ week.
Our group taught English classes using a variety of subjects such as art, music, sports, and math. CISS students were even able to lead a group of Jinshan students through their first experience using a microscope in the science lab class! The CISS students also took part in fun activities like dancing, ping pong, basketball, and calligraphy with the local students at the end of every school day as part of the school’s special activity period. This allowed the kids to get to know each other better, as did visits made to several students’ homes on Saturday afternoon. This really helped the Concordia students (and me) understand more deeply the tough situations in which many of Shanghai’s migrants live.
The Interim week was a huge boost for our work in Jinshan, which was somewhat ‘up in the air’ after a change in school leadership which went into affect over the summer. As a result of the CISS group’s week at the school, the new principal is very eager to have us expand our work at the school and to continue bringing volunteers.
Next weekend, I am also leading the first group of university students to the Jinshan school from Pepperdine University’s study abroad program in Shanghai. If all goes well, this could be the beginning of a longer-term relationship with Pepperdine. In addition to the Jinshan school, we are slowly building a stronger relationship with a second migrant school called Ziluolan Xiwang (Violet Hope) school, which is located in the southeastern part of the city. A second international school (similar to CISS) has begun to send regular volunteers to this school through CWEF.
In the coming months, Chen Ming and I will get to work in earnest on several important tasks. We have already begun work on development of a leadership & life skills training program, which we plan to implement as a trial at the Jinshan school next semester. The following school year, we hope to expand the program to more students at the Jinshan school and to offer the program to other area migrant schools.
Another big task in the coming months is finding permanent office space to house CWEF’s Shanghai office. An even bigger task will be to complete our official government registration in Shanghai, a process which will take several months. With this completed, we will finally be able to provide work visas for our foreign staff members (like me).
Speaking of registration, I have some amazing news to share from this past month. CWEF is now recognized as an official Chinese non-profit organization! This may not seem that remarkable, but registration of a foreign-affiliated NGO is very uncommon in China. This is a result of years of hard work and relationship-building with our government partners in China’s southwestern Yunnan province. We are thrilled and feel so blessed to be able to take this significant step.
There is another significant step in my life that I am excited to share with you: I have been offered and accepted the position of CWEF Director of Operations. This change will go into effect next summer. I will continue to be based in Shanghai, but will be responsible for working with CWEF managers in our Yunnan, Guangdong, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Shanghai offices to direct and manage our education and health programs in those places. This position will mean a transition from my current volunteer ‘GEO’ status to a more permanent and open-ended ‘career’ position with LCMS. As such, I will need to return to the U.S. again for an extended period of visiting current and potential supporters. The plan is to be back in the U.S. all of June, July, and August.
I’m thrilled about embarking on this new chapter in my life and work. Your role in this has been (and will continue to be) invaluable. I am so grateful for you and for all you’ve done to support me, and I pray He gives us the opportunity to continue to work together for His glory here in Asia.