BY BECCA GOREN
After spending a month in China this past summer conducting camps for children housed at Sunshine Academy Zhengzhou and Chengdu state orphanages, Carmel High School travelers have opened the camp, Bring Me Sunshine, to all local high school student applicants with the goal of instilling a dedication to the less fortunate children around the globe.
Open until the end of January, students have the opportunity to apply to Bring Me Sunshine through their website for a chance of securing a spot on the next group of students, who are eager to interact with the children of these orphanages and learn about the culture of this year’s location: Beijing.
After finishing the beginning steps on bringmesunshine.org, applicants will have an interview before potentially receiving an acceptance letter and commitment forms. As spots already begin to fill, co-founder of Sunshine Academy Emily Yang Bauer looks for a dedicated group to recognize this mission as an ongoing, annual endeavor to bring an educational and supportive atmosphere to children living in these welfare centers.
“Compared to many traditional community service opportunities, this program is uniquely created for U.S. high school students to make a meaningful difference at their young age,” Bauer says.
High school students practice leadership skills through planning group activities for orphans of different ages and abilities in areas such as art, music, sports or cooking.
“Initially, it was hard teaching kids with different intellectual capabilities,” sophomore Grace Dean says. “Learning to adapt and change our plans according to their special needs helped us learn how to be flexible when leading a group.”
If nothing else, students meet all high school community service and Presidential Service Award requirements through this program.
The benefits of this service are far from limited to aiding the children living in the orphanages, however. CHS students have seen tremendous growth in their own lives following their involvement.
“I got to help people from my background,” sophomore participant Marcus Lo says. “It helped me develop as a person.”
Last year’s travelers are prepared to go back this summer and lead a new group of high schoolers with them.
“One girl specifically reminded me of myself,” Dean says. “On the last day, she cried and made me promise to come back and see her again. I will.”
Interested students can find out more on bringmesunshine.org.