Empowering the Younger Generation

First year student Shen Zhenhao became interested in working with children after a supportive teacher transformed his life in school.

When I was in middle school, I did not have many friends and was really shy and reluctant to step out of my comfort zone. This all changed when my theater teacher offered me a chance to run the theater club at my school in Shanghai, China. The task of running the club transformed me — I became more adventurous and open to trying new things. I will always be grateful for the nurturing support from my teacher. As a way to pass on her kindness to me, I began working with children and learning how I can empower the younger generation. 

The Abu Dhabi STEM Challenge encourages students to innovate and design projects to solve challenges in the Fourth Industrial Revolution using technology, and is the first volunteering activity I’ve taken part in since joining NYU Abu Dhabi last year. As a mentor, I guided high school students through the challenge, and along the way, encouraged them while they were researching and writing their ideas.

Working with these students, I was at once moved by their curiosity and being inspired by their imaginations. When they came to visit NYUAD, we took them to our biology labs and demonstrated how to use our equipment. One of the students told me afterwards that she had made up her mind to join this community when she gets the chance and use research to help people. Nothing makes me happier than seeing their improvement and realizing that little meaningful actions can make an impact in their lives. This experience further strengthens my passion in education and helping children to achieve their goals.

As a first year student from China who is still trying to build a connection with my new home here in Abu Dhabi, volunteering is the beginning of a long meaningful bond with this land, and I am really grateful for that. Through that work, I am empowering the younger generations in the same way my teacher helped guide me, and learning more about the community I am in.