Macy Huang is a high school senior studying at the Webb Schools, a boarding school located in Claremont, California. Passionate in the areas of education empowerment and poverty eradication, she joined Givology, an education nonprofit connecting donors with grassroots organizations. At school, she is the captain of two Varsity sports teams, and an active member in the realms of community service and computer science. Macy aims to pursue a career in the fields of international development and Latin American studies, and hopes to impact communities in the developing world through education and technology.
Can you tell us about your work with Givology – particularly in the blogging, social media, newsletter and mobile app development project?
Macy Huang: I learned about Givology online my sophomore year, and immediately became a marketing intern. I clearly remember how enthusiastic I was joining Givology, as many organizations did not accept high school interns, which meant that many high schoolers probably have less of an opportunity no matter how passionate they are. After joining, I became involved in writing weekly blogs, which includes featuring Givology’s partners, developing a book list on education, and advertising Givology’s summer campaign. My role later included becoming the newsletter manager, as I help coordinate Givology’s monthly newsletters. This experience of researching and spreading information allowed me to better understand how fascinating Givology is and the pressing need for access to education around the world.
To further spread the mission of Givology, I founded a chapter my junior year in my high school. There, I organized a group of individuals just as passionate as I am and developed a Givology official account on WeChat, one of the largest social media platforms in Asia. To accomplish our goals of fundraising, raising awareness on the lack of education, and advertising for Givology, we send out articles that aim to spread our mission in a fun way – that is, through using popular memes and vivid language. Thus, we hope to engage the readers, especially the younger ones, on a more personal level by revolutionizing the traditional view of nonprofits being serious organizations funded only by the rich and powerful. We also learned first-hand that many Chinese users worry that donation is a responsibility of the rich, which we showed otherwise with Givology, an organization believing that small dollars aggregate to make a big impact. In the following years, we wish to attract more volunteers dedicated to Givology and most importantly encourage readers to realize the need for quality education around the world rather than focusing solely on their own education.
With other Givologists online, we hope to expand Givology’s influence using also technology – this time through a Givology mobile app. I am really lucky to become the project manager and work along with Givology’s founders and experienced computer professionals to design a mobile app that encourages more user participation. The most important skill I learned from this is staying organized and planning everything out so the execution process is significantly faster. The mobile app is projected to come out the end of this year.
Givology changed me as much as I wish to change the world with Givology. My vision of providing sustainable education to more children grew firmer as I fall in love with volunteering at Givology.
How do you compare and contrast your experiences in California and Shenzhen, in particular, with the educational systems?
Macy Huang: Though I attended both a traditional Chinese school and a boarding American school, what I speak is only a single-faceted experience. While it is obvious that the two educational systems showcase different class dynamics, emphasis on grades and extracurriculars, and college entrance exams, what I believe the most significant difference is the teachers. Even during primary school, my Chinese teachers would emphasize the pride and honor associated with being top of the class. “Good students” are supposed to hangout with other “good students,” and vice versa. From my experience in America, my teachers seem to allow more freedom in tackling intellectual challenges rather than focus solely on grades. They encourage diversity rather than conformity. This is not to say one version of teacher is better than the other, since the teachers are also molded by their respective cultures passed down through generations. However, I do believe that teachers are a deciding factor in a student’s educational career.
How did you first become interested in marketing and social media?
Macy Huang: Before joining Givology, I’ve learned about marketing and social media separately. After, I learned that one depends on the other to achieve a greater effect. From marketing Givology’s summer campaign using different types of social platforms to developing an app to increase user participation, I gradually learned that marketing and social media are deeply interconnected.
In your opinion, what are some determinants of a successful education nonprofit?
Macy Huang: In my opinion, there are two important determinants.
- Fundraise: One of the most tangible outputs of nonprofits is the money donated to help a child receive an education.
- Raise awareness: Yes, many may know that there are people stricken with poverty in the developing world; however, many may ignore the root of the problem. Education is one of the most sustainable methods of empowering a community because an educated child can bring opportunities to generations of a family. By raising awareness on the importance of education, every dollar could be spent with a purpose.
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
Macy Huang: The answer would obviously be my mother–– I am not the person who I am today without her influence. She taught me the importance of tenacity and grit. To fulfill the basic language demands, she took ESL classes every morning after she moved to America two years ago while sending my younger sister to school. During our trek to the Himalayas, she took care of my sister(who grew sick) while being the moral support throughout our entire journey. She is my role model in so many ways and I truly wish to become someone like her in the future.
What advice do you have for student volunteers or high schoolers who hope to make a difference?
Macy Huang: Understand your fears. I think many high schoolers would stop chasing their dreams because of fear of failure or rejection, which is, to some degree, inevitable. It is hard to just tell them to chase their dreams because fear will ultimately pull them back. For me, I try to acknowledge my fears and imagine the worst possible consequence. Yes, it sucks to do something and fail. But I fear more of not doing and regretting.
What are your favorite books, websites, films and/or resources related to education and international development?
Macy Huang: In my Givology post, I made a list of 12 must read books. My favorite book is I Am Malala, as I remember reading it when I was fifteen years old when Malala had already survived a gunshot at the same age. The book is not only dense with information of the politics in Pakistan and the autobiography of Malala, but also inspires anyone advocating for education for all. The book gave me a global perspective and prompted me to reevaluate what issues I care the most about and what degree I am willing to go to change it.