For this issue, we reached out to schools in Beijing to ask who was making an impact on their school communities. Our terms were loose, as we were curious about individuals who made a difference in leadership, community, and charity. We don’t feel like someone necessarily has to contribute to charity to be a community star, as sometimes a great, reliable friend in a school community can make just as much of an impact. Each of these stories is special, and we’re so proud to have had the chance to talk with these students and teachers.
Tamika Sankar, Year 13 student at British School of Beijing, Shunyi
Tamika Sankar has been volunteering for charities for half her life, since she was 8 or 9 years old. “My dad created the opportunities for me and my sister. It started with one weekend to Sun Village. We weren’t pressured to go.” Eventually Sankar would make this a passion of her own, involving her friends. Over the years, much of her time was given at Blue Sky Orphanage. She chooses to regularly help the children here and others in need because “they didn’t choose where they were born.”
Through these experiences, her view of charity has become mature, and she is not a supporter of the type of charity that’s meant for one time as an “obligation.” She sees this mindset negatively impacting children at Blue Sky Orphanage. “It’s important not to spoil them. I see volunteers coming in and giving them toys and being overly sympathetic toward them, but then never come again. They can become dependent on that giving and used to it. Volunteering with them is like maintaining a friendship. They’re not extendible.” Sankar became quite proud of the children because over time of seeing these relationships that had no depth, the children stopped warming up to first time visitors so quickly.
“We don’t always think about what they need, because we don’t ask them.” Sankar felt uneasy about a trip that was taken with a large group when the money on flights could have been saved and used in a better way. “It’s quite selfish in some ways; in some ways it’s meant to make us feel good.” She has taken this approach to heart in how she helps Blue Sky Orphanage, raising money for surgery for some of the children. “Often we also need to look at the root cause of problems. Why are these children orphans? Some are abandoned because of mental and physical disabilities. This is not an often talked about topic, especially in China.”
And how does she manage this passion, a social life, drama, and academics with the IB program, we wondered? “I do try my best. But grades are not everything. We underestimate the character of people. The only legacy you have will be in the lives of the people you’ve touched.”
Photo: Uni You
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