After spending the summer living and working in a Chinese orphanage and forming life-altering friendships with Chinese children, Tre Borden ’06 returned to campus, changed his major to East Asian Studies and is now calling on other Yalies to give their time to the cause.
When Borden returned from the Tianjin orphanage, located just outside of Beijing, he founded China Care at Yale, a chapter of the China Care Foundation that raises funds and awareness for Chinese orphanages. Since its inception, Borden said that China Care at Yale has been growing and will continue to expand with a recent internship program. With the launch of the internship program providing Yale students with summer jobs in Chinese orphanages, Borden said he hopes others will benefit from an “experience of a lifetime.”
“It’s hard to know what they [Chinese orphans] are actually going through if you don’t live there,” he said. “You realize how many things you have been blessed with and how little it would take to change someone’s life significantly.”
Borden said between five and eight students will be chosen through an application process to intern with China Care at Yale. Those selected will be placed in different orphanages depending on their Chinese language abilities. Though interns will be unpaid, Borden said that China Care at Yale is currently seeking funding.
China Care at Yale member Helen White GRD ’05 said the group and other like-minded organizations reshape the nature of the relationship between the United States and China by focusing on humanitarian work over economic partnerships.
“I certainly think it’s a different way to look at China, another way that China and the U.S. are going to be intricately connected not just through business and commercialism,” White said. “They’re going to be raising daughters together.”
The organization performs a worthwhile service for the community, New Haven county coordinator of Families with Children from China and adoptive parent Andrew Junker said.
“As an adoptive parent of Chinese children, I am delighted to see an organization like China Care undertake that kind of mission,” Junker said.
Although no collaboration exists at the moment between China Care at Yale and Families with Children from China, the prospect of working together in the future would be well-received, Junker said.
Another possible collaboration could be with the student-run Chinese Adopted-Siblings Program at Yale, founded in spring 2002. CASPY maintains a database of approximately 140 adopted Chinese children in the region and organizes awareness days once a semester to educate adopted youth about their culture, former co-coordinator Tiffany Lu ’06 said. Borden and Lu discussed a possible merger of their individual resources into a collective effort, she said.
“It would be kind of redundant to reach out to the same families,” she said. “We thought it would be a good idea to put together whatever resources we might have.”
The experience of encountering Americans who show an interest in Chinese culture profoundly impacts the children at the Chinese orphanages, 18 year old May Anderson said. Anderson, who currently resides in New Haven, was adopted from China at the age of seven.
“The people there were really surprised that American people learned their language, that people from another world speak their language,” Anderson said.
Borden said that he hopes China Care at Yale can transform feelings about the Chinese culture for adoptees.
“China Care is really important to have kids hold onto that Chineseness and to find pride in it instead of shame,” he said.
The China Care Foundation was founded by Matthew Dalio, a current junior at Harvard University, when he was 16 years old. The Yale Chapter, Borden said, represents the second chapter in the nation. Chapters are now being formed at Brown University as well as Phillips Exeter Academy, he said.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”16585″ ]