JennyJenny Chan and Grace Chan (Mother and Daughter Team)

Jenny (Mother): Everyone who has experienced Project Shine would agree that it is much more than a two-week cross-cultural exchange project or an ESL summer camp for underprivileged students in rural China. Team members and beneficiaries alike expressed that it is a unique, inspirational, life-changing experience with far-reaching impact.

This summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to join Project Shine with my 17 year old daughter. My personal experience showed me that Project Shine has truly lived up to its divinely inspired name – it shines a light into the dreary places of this world, reaching deep even into the brokenness of human hearts. A light fueled by love. It is evident that Project Shine has impacted not only the students in China but our team members as well. It works from head to heart, impacting our feelings, perspectives, values, priorities as well as our world view. Below are what some of our students said in their “love letters” to us:

“在这十天的相处中,你们教会了我们,不僅是英语,还有很多做人的道理,感谢你们帶给我们的快乐和惊喜,你们满满的愛,让我的心里充满阳光和快乐 …谢谢你的鼓励,我会坚持我的梦想,努力去实现它。” [In these ten days, you have taught us not only English but also many truths of life. Thank you for bringing us happiness and a pleasant surprise. Your overflowing love has filled my heart with sunshine and joy… Thank you for your encouragement, I will persevere and work hard to realize my dream.]

“与你们的相遇带给我很多感动,你们教会了我如何去分享,如何去爱,怎样去成为一个好朋友。” [I was touched in many ways through my encounter with you. You taught me how to share, how to love, and how to be a good friend.]

“We are 伐木累 (family)!”
“My best friend and teacher. I love you! 欢迎随时回家…欢迎你随时回到祖国怀抱。[Feel free to come home anytime…We welcome you back to the motherland anytime.] We are family!”

“非常感谢你们的到来,你们带给我们许多欢乐…让我有了不一样的精彩的假期,让我觉得英语是一门非常有趣的语言。你们给我们太多的惊喜,给我们太多的感动。我感受到了你们给我的爱,我会把这份爱传递下去,热爱我身边的每一个人。” [Thank you very much for coming. You have brought us so much joy…You made my holiday extraordinarily wonderful, and made me feel that English is a very interesting language. You have brought us too many surprises and touched our hearts in too many ways. I have felt your love for me and I will pass it on, loving each and every one around me.]

It is true that love can change the world, starting with the world of the one who gives love. As
Christians, we know where our ability and capacity to love come from. The Bible states that “We love, because He [God] first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Project Shine provides the opportunity for team members and students to witness, experience and encounter a love that is higher, wider, deeper, and purer. A love that is divine. A love that touches and soothes the brokenness deep within the human heart. A love that satisfies as no earthly thing can.


GraceGrace (daughter):

Project Shine has changed my definition of “greatness”. Throughout my time in China, I experienced many wonderful aspects of Chinese culture. However, I also observed the sad reality that many of these students have grim futures ahead of them. Despite all of their hard work, those dreams of being doctors, teachers, scientists, or accountants may never be realized. Why, then, do we encourage our students to pursue their dreams? Are we setting them up for disappointment after many, many years of hard work?

Upon speaking with my students further regarding their career aspirations, I came to find that many of them did not consider money or prestige as a factor in choosing a career path. Many of my students plainly stated that they just wanted to help people. I was immensely touched by my students’ desire to help others despite the many hardships that they themselves face. I was even more pleasantly surprised when I learned that Project Shine is the reason many of them are motivated to do so. One of my students, July, wrote “You are my hero. You are just one year older than me. But you can go to another country and help some students. So, I admire you.” Another one of my students, Teresa, wrote “I want to join Project Shine with my friends, all of us think it is very meaningful. Just one year, we can’t help a lot of people, but year after year we can help more and more people. You and all the teachers of Project Shine play a very important role in my life and make a difference.”

We may not have taught the students very much about the English language, but we made a difference because our service inspired others to make a difference. If greatness is measured measured by internal impact rather than external success, Project Shine is the greatest thing I have done in my life. By a similar standard, we should encourage our students to pursue their dreams not because of what they can achieve in the future, but because of the people they are becoming in the process and how they can use that to make a difference for others. With this priority guiding our actions, the chance of failing to achieve greatness is essentially non-existent.

I have come to realize that the desire to make a difference for others is nothing less than love, and the short ten days I spent with these students exposed me to an overwhelming love that is based on genuine kind words, selfless actions, and “heart to heart” communication. This love is not concerned with accomplishments, language, or cultural differences. This love has transformed me, opened my heart and taught me to be brave enough to treat others with love. I have learned that the greatest form of greatness is love, and love, in essence, is a courage to reach out and touch others’ hearts. This greatness surpasses any external accomplishments, whether academic, professional, or otherwise. My students possess this greatness, and they are my heroes because they have inspired me to strive for the same.


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