Sarah Lee: Meet the student entrepreneur working to change the global education landscape!
For many students, the summer signals a time of relaxation and growth where they have the chance to engage in a variety of educational opportunities to prepare them for upcoming school year. However, not all individuals have the means to participate in an enriching summer experience and can be burdened with a huge disadvantage compared to their peers. Sarah Lee, a former Diamond Challenge participant and current Student Advisory Board member, saw this disparity within her home country of South Korea and made it her mission to close the gap between children in poverty and those who are more privileged. Together with a group of her high school classmates, she created a non-profit, student-led organization called “Bridge Publisher” in 2015 that provides underprivileged South Korean children with free ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. Sarah describes her venture’s mission: “As the name Bridge Publisher goes, we want to bridge the gap in educational opportunities for students coming from low-income families and students with learning disabilities”. She certainly has made waves within her community, inspiring true social change for a wide variety of individuals of all generations.
The inspiration for Bridge Publisher stemmed from Sarah and her teammates’ passion for equality. Her fellow officer, Leona Maryuama explained: “Our point of focus in pursuing equality in Bridge Publisher is education for all. We know ESL textbooks sold in local bookstores are quite expensive, and that there are many students who want to learn English but can not due to the factor that draws them back – money.” Their organization creates free ESL materials with Korean explanations for beginning readers, while also providing textbooks with more advanced English vocabulary skills for upper elementary school students. Currently, they have four books of varying levels that cover topics ranging from basic grammar to everyday dialogue practice. They are also working on picture books for upper elementary school students with partnering activities to enhance their language proficiency, along with storybooks as well.
In addition to textbooks for underprivileged, Bridge Publisher has engaged in various community projects to help bring awareness to their cause and fund raise for their organization. They have participated in a number of charity drives, while also hosting a number of game/food booths at KISTIVAL, an annual event at the Korean International School. Their most recent project has been an amazing feat of social entrepreneurship: “We collected over 400 discarded books from a library and donated them to orphanages, under-funded English-teaching organizations, and juvenile detention centers,” Sarah explained. This kind of exposure has really helped the organization branch out and gain awareness for their mission throughout the community, ultimately furthering their goals to help more children in the local ecosystem.
As for future plans, Bridge Publisher still has a lot of exciting projects up their sleeve. Sarah gave us a brief sneak peek, stating: “To help students with specific learning disabilities like ADHD and dyslexia, we’re currently working on a video game based on our storybook, since video games provide a whole new level of interactivity and mental stimulation compared to ordinary textbooks.” This feat will undoubtedly serve as an incredible enterprise that will open many doors for so many individuals, truly changing the landscape for students everywhere. We wish Sarah and her team continued success on their path of entrepreneurship and are so excited to see what they accomplish in the future!
If you want more details on their amazing venture or are looking for any way to support Bridge Publisher, make sure to check out their website or email them at [email protected]!
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