Why We Give
Why We GiveThe Why We Give series highlights the various reasons why members of the Shanghai American School community give back to the school. Whether it’s annual giving, giving to special projects, or first-time giving, hear from parents, alumni, faculty, and staff to learn why giving to SAS is important.
- Alex T. Zhang ’12: Why I Give Back to my Alma Mater
- SAS Finance Director, Wendy Li: Why I Give to SAS
- Caty Romero and Michael Allen: The Importance of Giving
- Mi Jeong Kim: Why the Korean Community Donates to SAS
- Mildred Xia and Thomas Jin: Giving to Expand Learning Opportunities at SAS
- Guiying Zeng and Chunbao Lai: Giving to Support the Educational Mission at SAS
- Hairuo Wang and Gan Ding: Giving to Support the Dreams of Young SAS Students
Mildred Xia, Thomas Jin, and their son Ryan have been part of the Shanghai American School community since 2013. They moved to Shanghai from Beijing in 2004 and while Ryan enjoyed his younger years growing up in Shanghai and spending his formative years at a local school, the Xia-Jin family tried to gain admission to SAS Puxi for their daughter, Stephanie. Unfortunately, the waiting list was just too long at the time and Stephanie had to attend school elsewhere. But when Ryan turned 11, they tried again, “we decided to transfer him to an international school and SAS Puxi is the best in Shanghai. Ryan was lucky enough to be admitted and we have been a happy SAS family since then.” Now, Ryan is almost a High School Junior.
For the Xia-Jin family, philanthropy is about sharing their financial means and other resources for causes that are beneficial to the community. But it’s not just that; “In addition to making money donations, we also devote our time to development activities and leverage our networks to multiply the impact of an individual’s giving,” they share.
“By giving back to the community, we support the changes and development which will benefit the people that we care about. We are proud that we are part of the forces that make our community a better place,” share Mildred and Thomas. And when it comes to Shanghai American School, Puxi campus is not just a place, “SAS is not only the school that our child goes to for education; it is part of our everyday life. Our family has built very special bonds with the faculty and staff, the parents and the students alike.”
Mildred and Thomas elaborate, “We are deeply impressed by how much Ryan has benefited from being part of the SAS community. Our bond with SAS will go beyond the years that Ryan will receive education from the school.” That forms the foundation for why the Xia-Jin family chooses to donate to SAS, “We want to make our contributions to make SAS a better place for the kids and other SAS families. We would also like to set an example for our children as to the importance of philanthropy in our life,” they share.
As projects that are important to their son, Mildred and Thomas have made generous gifts to the DREAMS Lab fund and the Robotics fund at SAS over the years. These donations have supported the work Ryan has engaged with in technology exploration, pushing his learning in these areas to new heights. “These are the areas that Ryan has been deeply involved in. As a result, we have become aware of what has been achieved and what can further be achieved with the additional resources,” share Mildred and Thomas.
The Xia-Jin family knows that these experiences require abundant resources, and by supporting these projects financially, they ensure that “the kids can also have the needed hardware equipment and the additional coaching resources to build more complex and sophisticated projects as well as participate in regional and international competitions.” For them, it’s all about supporting their son and other students at SAS to continue exploring, discovering, and succeeding. That’s why Mildred and Thomas give; “We hope that with our contributions and the contributions from others within the school community, more students can develop interests and participate in the activities in these areas.”
Guiying Zeng and Chunbao Lai are parents to two boys. Their older son is at university, while their younger, Harold, is a fifth-grade student here at Shanghai American School in Pudong. As members of the SAS community for six years now, the Zeng-Lai family not only considers SAS to be a second home to Harold, they also consider SAS to be the best international school as far as they know.
“Philanthropy, to us, used to mean compassion and helping the poor and disadvantaged,” share Guiying and Chunbao, but now, their definition has changed slightly since connecting with the initiatives at SAS; “We realized that philanthropy can also support the pursuit of a better life. Therefore, we would like to support the educational mission of the school and help create a brighter future and happy environment for the children of SAS.”
So why do Guiying and Chunbao donate to SAS? “SAS treats our kids with patience and love, which have made positive impacts on their education and life experiences. At first, we didn’t understand the importance of donations because parents have already paid tuition fees for their kids and the school has also developed very well by itself. Nevertheless, we have decided to make donations to support a better future of the school so that our kids can have better and more advanced learning environments.”
They elaborate, “We make these donations so that our kids can have access to science and technology, broaden their horizons, and strengthen their collaborative teamwork. We hope the kids will benefit from it, find their passions and excel in their chosen fields one day.”
We ask what Guiying and Chunbao hope to teach their children through their actions, and they wholeheartedly share, “When our children see us donate to the school, we hope they learn compassion and responsibility for society. We hope they see giving as a lifelong mission, and experience joy and fulfillment from it.”
And what about their hopes for the future of fundraising at SAS? “If we could start any new fund at SAS, we would like to create an award for outstanding teachers because we need first-class teachers to nurture first-class students. That requires not only excellent teaching skills, but also good characters and devotion. We wish SAS the very best in the future!”
Hairuo Wang and Gan Ding have been part of the SAS community since 2013. Originally from Vorhees, New Jersey, their son Elvin is almost a High School Senior at Shanghai American School Pudong Campus. The Wang-Ding family has made annual donations to SAS since 2013 to a variety of funds.
When we explore the value of philanthropy, Hairuo and Gan share what it means to their family; simply put, “it means giving to the needy.” But not only, “Giving back to our community is a natural thing for us and it has always been important for our family. We have been educating Elvin since he was in Kindergarten, to give. By giving, we actually receive more; not through material means, but through happiness attributed to the fact that we may have bettered the lives of others.”
What about the value of SAS for the Wang-Ding family? “SAS has been a significant part of our family since middle school. This is where Elvin spent his entire middle school and high school years. He met great teachers and made great friends here. He has grown from a little boy to a fine young man. We have always wanted the best for SAS.”
That’s where the motivations for their giving originate, “We understand that funds are needed to run extra programs, and these programs are important for our students outside of their classrooms. We hope the money we donated has supported young students to discover themselves.”
Over the years, Hairuo and Gan have made gifts to the Spaces for DREAMS fund, the Artists in Residence program, and for Athletic Excellence. Their contributions have helped pave the way for SAS students to excel and extend their learning in a host of interests and passions.
The Wang-Ding family has also made donations to SAS’s Unrestricted fund, which allows the school to distribute their gifts where there is most need. And if they could establish a project for funding at SAS, Hairuo and Gan would like to “establish the best high school band among international schools in Shanghai.” Why? Because “Elvin is an accomplished clarinetist and is an active member in the high school band” and they want to see their son blossom in his passion.
For the Wang-Ding family, philanthropy is a family affair. While Hairuo and Gan direct funds to support SAS where they can, Elvin also does so in his own way. “He has actively engaged in every year’s Relay for Life by promoting clarinet recording pieces he and his classmates made for donation – he was able to raise over 3,000 RMB last year with the support from friends and family. And over the past three years, he has also used his own pocket money to contribute to the tuition and fees for three underprivileged students of his age that our family sponsors.”