As a TFish intern, Emma Cockerell brings not only her excellent language skills to the team, but also her passion for China and a heart to help others.
Beyond the Classroom
The 15-year-old at Palo Alto High School first heard about TFish during her sophomore year. Her AP Chinese teacher asked the class if anyone was interested in translating documents from Chinese to English. “At that time I knew nothing about TFish or the difficulties faced by rural Chinese villagers,” said Emma.
Motivated by her desire to improve her Chinese reading skills and English communication skills, Emma told her teacher she was interested. She also thought it would be a good way to learn more about China’s culture and people, especially since she is half Chinese. Her mom immigrated to America from Beijing. In recent years Emma has been to China a few times to visit relatives, and that is what grew her “passion for all things China.”
Emma’s teacher connected her with Allison Zhang, another student at the high school who has volunteered for TFish. Soon enough, Emma was translating her first Little Red Scarf story.
A Transformed Perspective
Volunteering as a translator has certainly helped Emma learn new Chinese vocabulary and improve her reading comprehension. But it’s been much more than just an academic experience. She has been able to grow as a person in ways that she couldn’t through school.
“My main takeaway,” she reflected, “which has been much more rewarding than the increased language skills, is learning more about and being touched by the stories of people across the world from me. Reading about the difficulties faced by families in rural Chinese villages, as well as seeing pictures of the areas they come from, has really opened my eyes and transformed my perspective about where I stand in the world.”
Emma realizes that she has a “somewhat sheltered life in the wealthy Silicon Valley.” The work that she has done for TFish has exposed her to the challenges other people face. “In many ways, it has broadened my perspective of how lucky I really am, and it has made helping those less fortunate than me a priority, both in everyday life and as a long-term goal.”
Local Volunteer, Global Impact
Emma has also been inspired by others who have volunteered to help. “It has been so heartwarming to see all the work that the volunteers are doing to help. These volunteers do so much good in the world, and I hope to also someday give back to those in need in such a meaningful way.” Emma hopes to eventually volunteer or work in China, to experience the life of a city-dweller and also that of a rural villager.
“Achieving social justice is so heavily reliant on the efforts of youth, and so it is up to young people like me to take action to make a positive impact on the world. TFish’s work is unique in that it is at a global scale, connecting people who are passionate about service from around the world,” said Emma. She hopes others can join in the work as well. “I would encourage anybody to volunteer, whether or not they have experience with translating or community service. Volunteering for TFish is an experience that anyone would find rewarding, regardless of age or profession.”
We are so grateful for Emma’s heartfelt contributions, and we welcome others to join us. If you’re interested in the kind of rewarding experience Emma has had, please check out ways you can get involved!
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