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With the Andy Reading Fund, a college freshman helps rural Chinese students

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William Glasheen/The Post-Crescent/AP

(Read caption) He may not have chosen a major, but Lawrence University freshman Andy (Yuhan) Wang knows his purpose in life: help rural students all over the world go to school.

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He may not have chosen a major, but Lawrence University freshman Andy (Yuhan) Wang knows his purpose in life: help rural students all over the world go to school.

In 2015, Wang created the Andy Reading Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides books and supplies to rural Chinese students.

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The Andy Reading Fund was launched after Wang, a native of Shenyang, China, attended high school in Seattle, Washington. He started blogging as a way to cope with culture shock, and the blog turned into a book. All proceeds from "High School Encounter: Seattle" go to the Andy Reading Fund.

"I felt like I had the opportunity to enjoy one of the best educational resources in the world, but my peers in rural China need to walk miles to go to a school that is without adequate educational resources," Wang told Post-Crescent Media. "They don't have well-trained teachers and sometimes they even don't have electricity in some of the areas. I felt like I needed to do something for them."

Compared with the students who are helped by his organization, Wang actually grew up in another world. Shenyang is a city of 8 million people. Wang's parents could afford to send him to the United States for high school.

It wasn't until he visited a school in rural China that he saw how difficult getting an education can be, especially for students who don't have access to basic items like jackets to wear in the winter.

When the Andy Reading Fund began, Wang wanted to provide books to schools in rural China. Its mission has evolved, to help give children basic necessities like coats and shoes.

The organization has chapters in China and Hong Kong, Korea, Canada, the United States and Russia. Student representatives affiliated with the chapters raise funds to sponsor a Chinese student's education expenses. The costs range from $200 per year for elementary and middle school students to $400 or $500 per year for high school students.

By the time he graduates from Lawrence in Appleton, Wis., Wang hopes to have 500 volunteers raising money for rural students not just in China, but all over the world.

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Wang hasn't decided what he will study. He's interested in a variety of fields, including psychology, gender studies, engineering, math and international studies.

Students from more than 50 countries attend Lawrence, said Leah McSorley, the university's director of international student services.

There are a number of things that draw international students to the liberal arts college, she said.

"I think students are attracted to Lawrence because they can become highly involved in a wide range of different activities and classes, the close relationships they can build with Lawrence faculty and staff, as well as the residential nature of our campus," she said.

The diverse student body at Lawrence was a big factor in Wang's decision to enroll.

"It's a really good opportunity for me and for other students here to understand another culture, to get an idea of how other people are thinking and to understand globalization," he said. "I think it's a really good opportunity that I can't find in many places in the U.S."


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