Hello! Today, we are meeting with Yan Liu, the co-founder of Power The Future an innovative project based learning curriculum that empowers school students to build up their empathy toward the world while providing underprivileged children access to solar lights. She is sharing her passion for disrupting our educational systems and training students to grow into caring and responsible adults.
« If we teach our children the old way, we are depriving them of their future » -- John Dewey
« Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world » -- Nelson Mandela
First, can you tell us a bit more about WHY you have started Power The Future, what problem are you addressing?
I started it, because I am in International Development & Relief sector and I have seen so many children that are not taken care of. Children will be leaders of their communities and countries after we all retire.
Also, I am a mother and I view education as the key to stop the poverty circle. There is no better investment than investing into our children.
Our mission is to help 300,000,000 children suffering from energy poverty to get access to clean energy and to be able to read at night, and eventually live better lives.
We want all children to work together, get educational benefits, and generate a sense of global citizenship by participating in our initiative. Caring for others is an important part of being a human being.
What is Power The Future? What solution do you provide?
Power The Future is a global educational initiative by which we connect children from developed countries and those who live off the grid and in poverty. We expose a global problem and help find solutions. We offer teaching kits for primary schools and middle schools, as well as social service projects for high schools.
It is a cross-curriculum PBL (Project Based Learning) through the ones the teachers and students can achieve both academic goals and positive impacts on children in vulnerable positions.
We empower children, who are the future of our planet.
What’s your personal background and how and why did you decided to start this adventure?
As I introduced earlier, I am a warrior in International Development & Relief sector, and I want to make my contribution to children who live off the grid so they can change their communities when they grow up.
My sons are the key people who made me thrive for this noble mission. They give me inspiration and keep my passion alive so I keep on improving the project. The teachers and students are also drivers of our initiative. They see the value in the project and continue to work with us year after year to make it better. People’s hesitation in contributing and our failing education system are also elements that push me down the path towards excellence.
What's the impact you expect to have on the society and/ or environment?
The impacts are obvious. They are divided into 2 sides:
The impact on the Giving Children:
❖ Children adopt a global view about the world, get to discover the inequalities among regions of the world, try to understand problems and find solutions, use empathy and take action in addressing global problems, etc.
❖ Children get to discover how their efforts can actually make a difference to others in a profound way.
❖ Children also get to review the differences in life and plant a caring seed in the heart. They are the future owners of the Earth and should learn today how to care in the way they think and act.
The impact on the Receiving Children:
❖They feel cared for and get hope for the future.
❖They get a global view of the world and generate dreams for themselves. They get useful tools to assist them in their learning. Life starts to change immediately once they access our solar lights.
❖They stop breathing harmful smoke, cut expense on lighting and improve productivity after dark.
❖They learn to use sustainable energy when they are young.
❖They get to see that they are not left alone…
What is the biggest accomplishment of Power The Future?
We are most proud of being a powerful education vehicle that connects all children and teachers. We make teaching and learning engaging, fruitful, and impactful. It is a genuine PBL project that schools need in today’s teaching.
We are very excited about our middle school project taking root in UK and USA. This is the second best accomplishment for us in 3 years. We are seeing appreciations from teachers, students and families.
What’s the biggest challenge you went through since you have started?
Our biggest challenge was from people who did not share the same vision of the initiative. The public schools stick to their old fashion teaching methods and refuse to adapt even though they saw the benefits for the children. There is lot of work to be done with the current education system to turn our children into curious learners and problem solvers rather than exam machines.
We have just got a mature system that works for schools. Our next step is to raise awareness and get more schools on board.
Any new exciting projects coming soon?
We are trying to launch our field trips for high school students, so they can go visit the off-grid communities physically and accomplish their social studies. As all G12 students who apply to top universities have to show their social achievement, our community work package will be highly appreciated by the students and their parents. We are already working with coaches and professors in Asia, Africa, and South America to be ready for our curious students.
We want to bring more solutions to schools that are based on solar energy so the education in science will become comprehensive and more engaging. For example, solar cookers use the heat of the sun so we save trees from being cut for cooking. Solar pumps bring water to villages so we save underprivileged kids 2-5 hours per day from fetching water and reduce risks from the wild animals.
If you could wish for one thing that could help you have a greater impact tomorrow what would it be?
We would love a boost by a foundation or CSR budget to help us spread the project among schools so that more children will get the opportunity to enjoy our projects.
Which person or which project has been or is a great source of inspiration in your job or in your life?
#1 James Fraser, my co founder has been my best friend and back up.
#2 Shanghai High School International Division is my favourite school. They are not only strong supporters but also real pioneer educators.
#3 Mr. John Wang, best friend and strong supporter. He not only helps the project grow in China, but also helps it take root in USA.
#4 Ms. Jessica Hauffman, an excellent educator from the French school in Shanghai. She did amazing work on her middle school project that inspired a lot of teachers.
#5 NACIS, our great partner school since the start of our project. They have a dynamic young faculty that is giving the children the best education they need.
#6 Energy Divisio of Asia Development Bank has been a major drive in our growth.
#7 Rosie May Foundation
#8 SAHAS Nepal
There are many more great people and organizations we want to mention here…… the list will go on for 10 pages!
第三位是Mr. John Wang，也是最好的朋友与强大的支持。除了项目在中国的成长，他也协助项目扎根美国。
第四位是Ms. Jessica Hauffman，上海法国学校的出色教育家。她在中学进行的教育项目启发了不少教师。
第七位是Rosie May Foundation。
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