[b]MEGAN FOO: Hi Liu! I’m Megan, I’m from Givology, I write for the newsletter and I just wanted to ask you some questions about your work as the Chief Development Officer of Givology as well as your work with the chapters.[/b]
[b]LIU JIANG[/b]: I started work with Givology as a development intern, when I was a sophomore in high school. This is my third year with Givology, going on my fourth year. After my first summer with Givology, I became extremely interested in the idea of heading the chapters team, so that’s why I became the chapters director. At the time, our chapters were limited in terms of both quantity and geographical location; since then, we’ve expanded to almost 20 chapters. We now have chapters internationally, on both coasts of the United States, and in the Midwest as well; our geographical diversity has definitely expanded. I’ve been very involved with outreaching to different locations and helping people start chapters in places where we’ve never had chapters before. So for example, the chapter that you [Megan Foo] and Loretta [Tsui] are planning to start in Hong Kong is definitely revolutionary for us since we’ve never had a chapter in the Hong Kong area or in mainland China. That’s mainly my work with the chapters: which is trying to guide chapter heads, helping them find a way to start and publicize a chapter, and also giving them advice on fundraising and publicity events. I help them find direction – the direction they want to take with Givology and I guide them through the process and ensure that they have help whenever needed. I’m like the liaison between the core team and the chapters, between the international level and a more geographically-specific level. Chapters are definitely very, very important because they make Givology more focused and bring it to specific locations.
In terms of my work as Chief Development Officer (CDO), I also help with trying to get new members to our Board of Directors; I mainly work with Joyce [Meng] for that. We’re planning to get a professor from UC Berkley and hopefully the University of Chicago to the Board of the Director members of Givology, to oversee the organization and offer professional guidance whenever we need it. That’s another aspect of my work as Chief Development Officer.
The last thing that I do is to help with publicizing a lot of the campaigns that Givology has and working on them. Most recently, I was actively involved with the 12/12/12 Campaign, which entailed spreading holiday spirit and raising a certain amount of money for projects in 2012. That was one of the campaigns that I worked specifically on with Coulter [King]. I tried to get chapters involved in the 12/12/12 Campaign, fundraising for that campaign. The campaign that I was actually a leader for was the Givology Book Project. I looked for writers for the book and did extensive interview with Ruth from the Peach Foundation in China, and that was definitely an amazing experience since that’s my home country and it was amazing to see someone do such amazing work in a country that is still in the process of developing in many of its regions. It was touching to see her bring her work to a country that I care a lot about, since I have many beloved relatives there, and it just warms my heart to see her do such incredible work in the most impoverished areas of China. That was a great experience as well.
[b]MEGAN FOO: I have some follow-up questions regarding Peach Foundation in China. I recently translated some of the letters that students had written to volunteers at Givology and could you tell me a bit more about Peach Foundation?[/b]
[b]LIU JIANG[/b]: The Peach Foundation was started by Ruth Jeng, and it works in a rather impoverished area in China. Ruth has a very interesting personal story herself since she was actually involved in a nonprofit organization before that, and was debating about starting a non-profit herself – that’s why she ended up starting it. She works in the Yunnan Province of China; that’s where she’s mainly located. The reason why she’s chosen that specific location was because it had good weather, making it easier for her to travel there by foot or by bus, but also because it’s a pretty disadvantaged area. The Peach Foundation is an all-volunteer, nonprofit-run organization and they hold summer camps for children but they also give money: the money that they raise goes directly to the students of the Peach Foundation. Ruth herself has very specific contact with the children and those families, making frequent trips to families. She’s trying to ensure that each child graduates. In many of these impoverished areas, parents are not willing to send their kids to school because the kids are needed at home. This way, the children are more likely to contribute to the home. So Ruth is really trying to encourage these families to get out of the poverty cycle and to find ways to become self-sufficient; Ruth’s longtime belief is that getting an education is one of the best ways to achieve this. So the Peach Foundation has done incredible work in that specific province and one of the things that I find really interesting about Ruth is that she is a self-made millionaire, and it’s very selfless of her to donate that money to a region that she is passionate about. I’m really, really proud of her and her work with the foundation and I just can’t wait to see what she does in the future.[b]
[b]MEGAN FOO: Why did you decide to volunteer for Givology? What about Givology really attracted you?[/b]
[b]LIU JIANG[/b]: I heard about Givology from a friend at a conference and did a search up online. The more I read about Givology, the more interested I became in its mission. When I joined, most of Givology’s volunteers were working professionals and college students so it was definitely interesting for me to experience working with people who are much older than me. It was touching to see their passion for the same thing that I had passion for. Having been born in China and having immigrated to the United States when I was three, I really care about my country and I really want to see children my age have the same opportunities that I’ve had. I really believe that a child’s background should not hinder him or her from receiving the same opportunities as a child from a wealthier background would have. That’s the reason why I’m really passionate about Givology’s mission. And the other reason why I joined Givology was because not many nonprofit organizations give youth (high school students and younger) an opportunity to have a hands-on, social entrepreneurship experience. And I love how Givology is very, very tight-knit. In an organization like the Red Cross that may be larger and more well-known, the connections between the board members will not feel as tight. And I love how Givology is very centered; the CEO, Joyce [Meng] makes contact with interns and everyone really tries to know everyone in Givology. Essentially, everyone in Givology really does care about its mission to empower young children to universal access to high quality education. So that’s the reason why I’ve been involved with Givology for the past almost four years and I plan to be involved in college and beyond. It’s definitely a long-term project for me.
[b]MEGAN FOO: What would you say to someone who’s considering volunteering for Givology (and education projects worldwide)? What advice would you give to the Givology network?[/b]
[b]LIU JIANG[/b]: The advice I would give is to give it a try because when I first started working with Givology, I started off as an intern, as I told you. And I thought it was just going to be a summer-long project but I think you should never treat volunteering as a project. You should consider it giving and it should be part of your life, so you shouldn’t consider it to be some other thing that you’re going to do short term. I think that the true joy that you get from volunteering for an organization like Givology is that if you stay long term and you’re with an organization for a long term, you experience Givology as a whole. I’ve been an intern, then the Chapters Director, then Newsletter Editor-in-Chief, and then Chief Development Officer, and I think that I’ve been able to get a variety of experiences with Givology that I wouldn’t have had if had just stayed for three months as an intern. I think that one of the most rewarding parts of Givology if you choose to stay for long-term is that you get to work with projects that really differ from year to year because we constantly brainstorm innovative ways to raise money for our partners for Givology to raise awareness for our children. Over the years, I’ve worked on a variety of projects like the Make Your Mark Event, 12/12/12, the Givology Book Project. I think if you choose to dedicate yourself to this organization, do so with 100% commitment because only with 100% commitment are you going to get 100% out of the whole experience, and I think in approaching volunteering, you should not treat it as if you’re helping other people. Because I think with volunteering, especially for an organization like Givology, I think you receive more help than you actually give; just the inspiration that you get from knowing that you’re helping another child graduate, you’re helping another child get food on the table, you’re helping a school build a library. It’s just so much more incredibly rewarding and to know that you’re working alongside people who are just as dedicated as you is an incredibly humbling experience that I think everyone should experience. I think that life is just not complete without volunteering for organizations like this. I think that when volunteering for Givology, make sure that you’re passionate about the cause because if you’re not passionate about the cause, it won’t show and the rewards won’t be as enjoyable. So I guess that’s what I would say to, if you’re volunteering, to do it with 100% of your heart and it shouldn’t be a half-effort.
Megan Foo's Blog
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