【GYLD Talk】Cindy Mi: Shared culture, shared future
On July 30, the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies hosted the 2021 annual forum of the Global Young Leaders Dialogue (GYLD) in Beijing. Around 140 young representatives from various walks of life participated in the forum, exchanging views on topics such as sustainable development, public health, the joint fight against the pandemic, scientific innovation, and an open world economy. Participants also shared stories of their experiences in China and exchanged views on the strengths and responsibilities of young people regarding issues such as climate change and environmental protection.
Cindy Mi, Founder and CEO of VIPKID, delivered a speech at the GYLD Talk during the forum. The following is an abridged transcript of the speech, which has been edited for clarity.
Well, good morning, my name is Cindy Mi, founder/CEO of VIPKID. VIPKID is a global classroom that connects 100,000 North American teachers to 800,000 Chinese children to learn online through immersive one-on-one tutoring. Also, we have Lingo Bus that connects 50,000 global kids to learn with Chinese tutors online as well. So today, I want to share with you, a story of 3 English teachers and how our shared lives are connected in such a global classroom.
Of course, the story started with me being the first English teacher, when I started tutoring young kids English 23 years ago, and by then I just dropped out of high School. Of course, I was reading science fiction magazine in my math teachers’ class – if you’ve ever done that, you know how teachers would get angry. But then I felt I lost all my confidence in learning, but I found something that I’m fascinated about, which is teaching English and learning English and seeing a bigger world.
And I started my journey to teach English, then I started to work with many more teachers here in Beijing, but my job, with a CTO, which means a chief transportation officer. My job was to drive teachers around Beijing from one campus to another and that was difficult, and led me to think – why we don’t gather all the best English tutors around the world and have them teach online. So, that’s why we built VIPKID in 2013. The idea is that teachers everywhere can teach children everywhere – and therefore it is a global classroom, and now I’m so proud that we’re working with so many teachers and teachers really love working with us.
So, the second story is about one of the teachers on the VIPKID Platform, teacher Sandy. Teacher Sandy comes from Arizona, and she has 5 kids. If you’ve got kids, you will know how difficult life can be. She was an elementary school teacher, but she couldn’t teach at the school any longer and she misses class and more importantly, she needs income. She felt hopeless, but then she found VIPKID and all the lovely Chinese children and the parents. Now she makes a very decent income. She just bought a new house, and she feels so happy about her life.
That tells you the story of all the other teachers on the platform and altogether, we’ve already created income of about 2 billion US dollars for all the teachers – and then 90% of all these young teachers are female, or woman teachers, which makes their lives very different. Teacher Sandy of course feels that she must do something more to give back and to help more people.
That leads me to the third story, teacher Li Lichun in Guizhou province, who is an elementary school teacher. She was one of the very few girls who got educated 40 years ago and after she graduated from college, and she went back to her hometown. She said, I’m going to help all the kids. But she’s not an English teacher, by then and then she said I have to start teaching. But how? Then she found VIPKID and we have our education program where we are enabling and empowering teachers on the platform to teach remotely virtually but live to the classrooms.
So, teacher Sandy was a connection. She became the first virtual teacher to the Dachang primary school with teacher Li Lichun and then they worked together – one online, the other offline – but live streaming to the kids, and the first day of school was so exciting. The kids now see teacher Sandy from Arizona live and they’ve started to dream about this speaker’s world. Teacher Li Lichun feels so proud of the kids and they now have a dream to grow up and to travel far and to learn about the world and then come back and help their fellow villagers.
Stories like this happen every day on our platform and that’s why I feel so proud of what I do and all of us, including Teacher Sandy, Teacher Li Lichun, and Teacher Cindy, we share the same mission to inspire and empower every child for the future, and we share the same vision that in the future world, a global classroom should be affordable, accessible and personalized, powered by technology. And I feel this is the responsibility of the youth of the globe – to create a shared future, where all lives can be connected and empowered by each other.
Thank you so much for allowing me to speak today and I will love to accept more for your help, and advice on how to build a global classroom for better future. Thank you very much.