A Letter from Ha (An Undergraduate Student Sponsored by FA Apprenticeship Program)

(Teenager’s name is modified for protection. This English version was translated by CEO.)

To my dear friends at The CEO Foundation (“CEO”):

Hello! My name is Ha. I am one of your sponsored students. I would like to tell you my story and what CEO has done for me.

I grew up in a beautiful family, but everything changed when I was seven years old. We lived in Luoning, one of the poorest counties in China. In 2003, hoping to make life better for all of us, my father decided to lumber-harvest by the river. Sad to say that was his first and the last time as he never returned home after that day. I realized I could never sit on my father’s lap or be spoiled by him anymore. I thought that kind of tragedy would never happen again, but I was wrong. In less than a month, my mother abandoned me. Overnight, I lost everything. My uncle and aunt were in their sixties but were kind enough to adopt me. They made sure I go to school and have as much a normal childhood as they could provide me. However, being old and living on the breadline, they could only put me through as far as junior high school. I knew I must not give up, so upon graduation, I started to work to continue my education. When I got to my senior years, the school holidays were too short for me to find employment to pay for my tuition. It was then when CEO found me and enrolled me into their Family Anew (“FA”) Apprenticeship Program. Today, I am a freshman in college. Thanks to CEO, I am brave and able to face many challenges. In the following paragraphs, I would like to share with you how this organization has impacted me.

If I were to write about CEO during my junior school years, I would say it had to do with money and vision. That was because I only had limited contact with them and never quite understood them. However, after spending three consecutive months at CEO Training Centre as my summer job, I gained a new perspective. The FA Apprenticeship Program not just provides monetary assistance to students but value-based character building and holistic development.

One of the many things I learned is self-actualization. Outwardly I was confident yet I was timid deep inside. I could be easily intimidated just by someone’s stare or movement. Those three months working at CEO helped me find my “real” self and overcome many challenges. My most memorable experience was at the farewell gathering for a group visiting from Shanghai. During such time everyone was asked to give a short testimony of their experience at CEO. I was very shy but was encouraged gently by the CEO leaders to go ahead and try. At first, my voice was so small that it was hardly audible, but at the end, it grew strong and firm. The content of what I shared reminded me that I was able to accomplish many things that I had never done before. For the first time, I realized I could organize activities, write action plans, prepare outlines for classes, tutor children and be a teacher assistant in a kindergarten. When I got to college, this revelation helped me compete for the posts as military training leader and school monitor. I was bold enough to participate in all class activities, manage class dances and organize hometown events. CEO gives us a platform to discover and showcase ourselves with the right attitude. It allows me to achieve things that I never dared to do before.

Another thing I gained was to retain a heart of a student. I would have never known that hygiene means not just brushing teeth and washing face but exuding a sense of cleanliness and order at all times. I learned that “life” is valued and must be respected may that be men or animals. CEO concerns not merely one’s physical being but to deem even higher the nurturing of one’s character. I learn about respect, gratefulness, equality, giving, inheritance and perseverance. CEO introduces us to art and all kinds of knowledge. I feel like I am learning something new every moment with CEO. I know I will heed in my heart forever all that I’ve gained from CEO. It teaches me things I could never have learned from books. I am most grateful. A big Thank You to all those that have supported students like me through CEO; and to CEO, thank YOU for finding me and making such an impact in my life. I now know who I am and will walk boldly into my future albeit the uncertainty. May the love of CEO spread far and wide and touch many more lives!