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Stanford alumna bikes across America for charity in China

(Courtesy of Linda Sheng)

(Courtesy of Linda Sheng)

This summer, Stanford alumna Linda Sheng ’14 has joined a group of international graduate students on a cross-country bike ride to launch their new charity campaign known as Danxingdao or Oneway.

“I actually joined [the bike ride] slightly later after hearing about the movement through various media,” Sheng said. “It is covered very well in Chinese-speaking spheres.”

Danxingdao’s biking expedition is called Bike Across America and will cover 3,800 miles from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., over the course of two months. For each kilometer traveled, participating sponsors will donate five lunches to Free Lunch for Children, one of China’s most well-known and respected charities.

“We wanted to do something meaningful and contribute back to our home country, China,” Sheng said. “Danxingdao is such a meaningful project that I am glad to be apart of.”

 

Danxingdao

Danxingdao is a team of Chinese students from various international universities including Stanford, the University of British Columbia and the Pratt Institute. The group collaborates with companies and students around the world to raise funds for hungry children in rural parts of mainland China.

Danxingdao founder Jiangyang Zhang spoke about his volunteering experiences as a teacher in mainland China that led him to create Danxingdao.

“In the rural parts [of China] the students typically live around five to 10 miles away from school and do not have the opportunity to go back home for lunch,” Zhang said. “Most schools don’t provide lunch so when they are hungry, they have two options: try to sleep or drink tap water.”

Zhang also explained that Danxingdao uses a unique charity model rather than directly asking sponsors for money.

“OneWay is not asking the public solely for money. Rather, we are sending the message that you can help people through simple actions, such as liking a post,” Zhang said. “We plan to partner with companies that see the impact people have made and have the money to donate.”

In order to launch its campaign, Danxingdao has encouraged the public to use social media outlets like Facebook and YouTube to spread awareness through likes, shares and photo and video posts. Participants can share videos with Danxingdao detailing their personal philanthropic experiences or post pictures with the tag “I’ve discovered China in the world.”

For every like, picture or video that Danxingdao receives, its cooperating sponsors will donate money to Free Lunch for Children, which has provided lunches for over one million students in over 400 schools in impoverished rural areas.

Danxingdao’s biggest company sponsor is Top Circle, one of the largest hosiery companies in the United States. Top Circle will donate enough money for 10,000 lunches to Free Lunch for Children once the Danxingdao Facebook page reaches 10,000 likes.

 

Bike Across America

Bike Across America will serve as a launching project for Danxingdao and began on June 7 with a ceremony in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. The bikers will complete their cross-country expedition in August.

Zhang, a Ph.D. graduate in electrical engineering from USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, explained that Bike Across America began as one of his personal dreams.

“I knew after I completed graduate school I not only wanted to bike across America but make the adventure meaningful,” Zhang said.

However, the team does more than cycle for hours each day. Sheng explained that talking with other Danxingdao members about the biking expedition and the people they have met so far has been one of the most touching parts of the experience. The group also maintains a blog to document its members’ personal stories from the journey.

“Every night we stay up late writing content on our blog to share awareness with both English and Mandarin speaking spheres,” Sheng said.

In the future, Zhang explained that Danxingdao will continue using a similar charity model but will host shorter bike rides for more people to participate in the future.

Sheng, who graduated from Stanford in June with a degree in economics, plans to continue supporting Danxingdao even after Bike Across America.

“This is such a life-changing experience, where I have not only learned about this country [and] my home country, but [about] myself as well,” Sheng said. “Our final goal is not necessarily how much money we’ve raised but how much awareness we have shared.”

 

Contact Jocelyn Woods at jocelynwoods16 ‘at’ mittymonarch ‘dot’ com.

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