The new US Ambassador to China and a famous Chinese children's author were among the guests at A Bridge for Children International's fundraising event in Beijing in September 2011.
Gary Locke and Zheng Yuanjie gave up time on a rainy Saturday during a holiday weekend to meet some of the migrant children and teenaged orphans we work with and donate materials and books.
Ambassador Locke's wife Mona Lee, who has done advocacy work in early-childhood learning, also attended with their three children and Mr Zheng's daughter. The youngsters all sat down with the migrant children for an art activity focusing on peace.
The ambassador, whose grandfather emigrated from China to the US and whose father was also born in China, arrived in the Chinese capital city a few weeks ago. He was the first Chinese-American Governor and first Chinese-American Commerce Secretary; he is now the first Chinese-American US Ambassador. He spoke to the youngsters about perseverance and aiming high.
"If you work hard your dreams can come true. You do not have to be born into families with lots of money; many of the most successful and richest people are people who have come from nothing. Believe in yourself and you will succeed."
Ambassador Locke, who worked in his father's grocery store when he was in the state school system in Seattle, added: "You have come from difficult backgrounds, you have overcome difficulties and are now experiencing new challenges and new opportunities. We believe that with the help of A Bridge for Children (ABC) you are well on your way to success. Whatever you want to do, seek to be the best. Have big dreams."
Mr Zheng's books have been read by millions of Chinese people, both adults and children. He also spent a lot of time talking to youngsters at the ABC event.
The author, now in his 50s, dropped out of primary school after four years and joined the army aged 15. At the fundraiser he told a group of teenaged orphans, who live in an ABC foster home, about some of the challenges of his own background and explained that some teachers did not believe in him. He continued to write until finally he began to get published. "Don't give up," he said, jokingly adding that he had lost face ("Wo meiyou mianzi!") when some of the youngsters said they did not know who he was. One of them, 11-year-old migrant school pupil Fan Xiaoming, said she was really happy to be at the event, held at an art gallery in 798 District. She said it was great to "draw and chat and have photographs taken." She said she hoped that "in the future people in all countries can be happy together and not argue." Xiaoming's teacher Yan Cuiping said the children enjoyed the activity. "I hope this kind of event will allow them to express their talent." She added: "We should let them grow up so their eyes are open."
Jennifer Kim, ABC's Associate Director, said the event was a huge success in spite of the rain and holiday traffic. "The gallery filled up quickly with past and present volunteers and supporters, as well as those who had only learned of ABC for the first time," she said. "Whether it be high-profile supporters like Ambassador Locke and Mr Zheng or members of the public, all of us there had a certain thing in common -- the desire to help children who are less fortunate."
The fundraiser, called "Out of the Shadows – Bringing Migrant Children’s Artwork Into the Light,” also featured 50 pieces of art by the disadvantaged youngsters, displaying their courage, happiness, hopes and dreams. Some of the work was sold to guests in a silent auction.
The event took place at Tangart Gallery in Beijing's 798 District and was sponsored by Agenda Magazine. Guest speaker Frank Sun -- restaurateur, architect and philanthropist -- talked about the importance of volunteering and philanthropy.
All the money raised will go to our TALENT CAI (才) Program which runs art and sport programs for migrant children with the '4Cs' in mind - Care, Courage, Confidence and Commitment.
ABC would like to thank all guests as well as cellist Song Zhao, Tangart Gallery, Art of Wine and Mughal’s Restaurant. Many thanks as well to Kro’s Nest, Hummingbird Retreat Spa, Three Shadows Photography and Crepanini.