英文中國郵報 專訪沈芯菱

Shen improving Taiwan through education

Have you ever thought about making the world a better place but always fail to do so because you lack the strong belief that one person can actually make a difference?

Then Shen Hsin-ling’s(沈芯菱) story is one you should hear. The 21-year-old college student came from a humble beginning but has already achieved what most people could not have done in their whole lives.

From the age of 12. Shen has devoted herself to offering free and accessible online education to the underprivileged in Taiwan.

With the money she earned from working as a freelance website designer, she set up websites to sell fruits, which were unmarketable due to overproduction, in aid of the

farmers.

She is also an accomplished photographer who has taken over 200,000 pictures of the underprivileged in an effort to raise their profiles and make their voices

heard.

For her impressive record of volunteer service and entrepreneurial accomplishments. Shen won numerous honors including the Presidential Education Award and the Ten Outstanding Youths in Taiwan award.

Her philanthropic acts have also been publicized in numerous newspapers and TV broadcasts. Elementary and high school students can now read about her exploits in

textbooks.

 

A Humble Origin

Growing up in a poor family. Shen did not go to kindergarten because her family was always on the move as her parents made their living as venders.

After finally being admitted to elementary school, Shen often fell behind on her schoolwork and was teased by her classmates.But she kept working hard and ultimately overcame her difficulties. Shen got her first computer when

she was 11 years old and started learning computer skills.

The quick and talented learner soon found that technology could solve many problems. Using her self-taught programming skills, the young girl built a

website to help her parents and others venders sell clothes and products online.

“E-commerce helped my family and many others improve their poverty-stricken situations,” she said. The self-taught programmer later opened her own programming workshop and started to design websites for farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs who wanted to market their produce via the web.

In eight years, she earned more than NTS2 million. With the money she earned from

designing websites, and in only her sixth year of school, the young but aspiring Shen set up a free online teaching website to help others like her whose financial situation

prevented them from receiving the same quality of education as their richer counterparts.

“I had heard the phrase ‘changing the destiny of the poor through education,” Shen notes, however,she did not understand why it was only rich children who were able to study at cram schools and with expensive online teaching programs.

To build the free website, she personally visited libraries and bookstores and closely studied the notes she wrote during classes. single-handedly filling the website with free learning resources.So far the website has had more than 3.88 million visitors.

 

Many children whose grades have seen significant improvement with the help of the website left messages for Shen expressing their gratitude.

The success of the free e-learning website has motivated Shen to do even more to help poor and needy people.

Several years later, she’s continuing in her efforts by building another website to help foreign spouses from Southeast Asian countries learn new things about Taiwan.

 

Capturing the Grassroot Spirit Aside from her philanthropic efforts to help the underprivileged.

Shen has traveled widely through out the country using her camera to photograph Taiwanese people, especially blue-collar workers and farmers.

Using her photographic skills. Shen has recorded the faces and captured the smiles of over 200,000 people.

“I want to help their stories and voices be heard,” said Shen, adding that she believes these people are the genuine heroes of the country She continues to take photo-

graphs, especially of the elderly between the ages of 80 and 90, to capture the ongoing celebration of the Republic of China’s centennial.

 

Though very often working alone when carrying out her many philanthropic acts, since most of her peers are busy focused on school work, Shen said the road is not

lonely as she learns a great deal from helping others.

She continues to devote every free day to charity work and is planning to devote herself fully to her philanthropic efforts after she graduates from college. She aims to

help the poor and needy learn how to make a living themselves instead of relying on external help.

 

As a person who has achieved her dream, Shen encouraged everyone to keep dreaming big regardless of his or her financial situation. Those struggling financially have nothing to lose, so therefore they should continue to fight for their goals, she noted.

“Dreams give us the courage and strength to change what we can change and to accept what we can not change,” she added.

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