Joyce Meng's Blog

Giving Thanks

One notable event over the last week is that my grant application on behalf of the Peace School and Givology to the Rhodes Scholar Sub-Saharan African Foundation was successful! We received 1,500 pounds towards moving the Lower School to the Upper Campus. I will be visiting this school in late December, and am very excited about the opportunity to deliver letters written by Givology donors to the students, take video and photos, work with the students, monitor the impact of the funds we raised on Givology, and really understand the challenges of delivering quality education in Uganda. The Peace School has a truly extraordinary mission – the video below provides a great overview of the challenges the school is currently facing.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it's a time to really reflect back on all that has been given to us. My entry is a bit late, but nevertheless, the entire holiday spirit is predicated on really recognizing all those who have had such a positive impact on our life.

This Thanksgiving, I had almost too packed of a schedule to really take time to digest the simple pleasures of the holiday. During noon, I made a pitch to the Strategic Focus on Africa Special Interest Group (SIG) at Said Business School to convince MBAs to consider YouthBank as a potential consulting project for the summer. Overall, through the enthusiastic and excited responses that I received, I sensed that the committee was really positive about getting involved! Compared to the MFE students, MBAs are much more focused on the whole business school experience – rather than spending hours studying in the library to understand financial econometrics and asset pricing, MBAs attend a bunch of seminars, events, networking sessions, and club meetings. I suppose the value of the MBA is less about the content learned in the course, but the relationships forged.

Later that evening, I went to Rhodes House early to help with the preparation of the Thanksgiving dinner. As we have a new warden this year, he agreed to letting the American scholars use the kitchens and main hall to cook and serve a Thanksgiving dinner. I am truly amazed by my friends who organized the event; imagine all the meticulous preparation and coordination necessary to deliver quality food for 100 dinner attendees! Nine turkeys were roasted to perfection and not a single trimming was missing – sweet potatoes with marshmallows, fresh salads, giblet gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, homemade cornbread and rolls, quiche, macaroni and cheese, pumpkin and chestnut pies, among other traditional Thanksgiving fixtures. I guess when Rhodes Scholars set their mind on something, the implementation tends to be very well coordinated, and most surprisingly, perfectly on time!

I couldn’t stay for desert, however. I ended up rushing off to St. Antony’s to assist with the Brazilian Fundraiser that we’re holding for Solar Meninos de Luz, a Givology partner school in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro (see embedded video below about an English project conducted by my fellow Givologist Alex!). From 8 PM to 11:30 PM, I stood outside of the party, asking the entrants for a voluntary contribution…rather exhausting (and sometimes awkward) work. I made a few good connections for Givology that may prove very valuable in the future, and had a chance to engage in some meaningful conversation with a few interested individuals. The Brazilian Society of Oxford really helped out tremendously by bringing decorations, traditional music, and marketing assistance to get the word out about the party. Since the timing of the Brazilian party coincided with the MCR elections for St. Antony’s and a guest dinner, we had decent turnout, especially later in the evening. Through voluntary contributions alone, we raised 150 pounds for Givology (approximately $250 USD), and hopefully, we’ll get an additional 200-300 pounds when we apply for a grant from the St. Antony’s MCR. (And of course, congratulations to Alex for winning the MCR election for President – it’s really a tremendous accomplishment in light of the fierce competition for the position!)

Now, a thank you to the Givology community!

I am thankful for my Givology team and our entire network of 3,000+ supporters who believe in our mission and supported our cause through small dollar and/or small time contributions. My Givology team is a continual source of inspiration – no one can possibly ask for more creative, committed, resourceful, and inspired team! My Givology team has become my secondary family – a network of inventive young professionals and students who not only dream of a better world, but who have made the commitment to make their vision a reality. We share our triumphs and shortfalls together; all of us are volunteers but for us, Givology is much more than an organization, it is an incarnation of our hopes for a better world and a reflection of our own commitment to make a difference. Each donor and supporter on Givology adds to our impact; without them, we would not be able to help improve the lives of students around the world. Education is liberation – only when the mind is free are we truly emancipated. Education is empowerment – when we are armed with knowledge and a passion for learning, nothing is impossible.

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