birmingham to beijing

Birmingham to Beijing: An Update!

Wyatt Smith
A few months ago,  I wrote a story for the Christian Science Monitor about a teacher named Wyatt Smith, and a dare he posed to his inner-city Birmingham students. Learn Chinese and I'll take you to China. 

When I wrote the story back in February, Wyatt was still unsure if he was going to need to raise upwards of $69,000, because his students were still unsure if they were going to pass a college-level proficiency exam and earn a ticket to Beijing.

A few days ago, he sent me an update via e-mail, and I couldn't help but share it. And just so you know... this is why I write.
Some updates:

In the three weeks after our CSM story ran, I received no less than two dozen calls, emails, and letters from people who just looked up our school's address online. Some were well-wishers, some were donors, and all were incredible touch points.

One of those contacts shocked me with a $15,000 anonymous gift! It was incredible. I still can't get over that happening!

We got into an excellent position for the summer, breaking the $50,000 mark by March and we're now ever so close to our $70,000 total fundraising mark. I expect we're in for a May push to hit that number for eight students to participate.

Earlier today, we received results from our March HSK Chinese language proficiency exams. Of the eight students who tested in March, seven scored proficient status at the basic level (87.5 percent success rate). The eighth student will be receiving a remediation opportunity in the coming weeks.

Also about a month ago, our students filed for passport applications, which was a very exciting moment. They've started coming back in the mail. All are tucked safely away in preparation for this summer.

Grateful for your interest in our students. They are a wonderful group. I'm lucky to be their teacher. And I'm lucky to know you.

wyatt smith

So there you have it folks. If you dream big, bigger things happen. I'm so proud for Wyatt and his students, and I'm even MORE excited to report that they are only $4,000 short of their $69,000 goal to take all eight students to China. [To donate, click here.]

Finally, I want to share that last week, Wyatt Smith was awarded the Sue Lehmann Award, Teach For America's competitive annual award for outstanding second-year teachers. You deserve it Wyatt!  Congratulations!

*A Q+A with Wyatt Smith about his first Birmingham to Beijing project.
*An embarrassing story about one awful day in China.