Germantown Friends School Chinese International Student Samuel Peng, Class of 2016, discussed dreams with fifth graders as part of a project to compare their aspirations to those of their peers in China. (Photo by Laura Jamieson)

Germantown Friends School Chinese International Student Samuel Peng, Class of 2016, discussed dreams with fifth graders as part of a project to compare their aspirations to those of their peers in China. (Photo by Laura Jamieson)

by Laura Jamieson

Samuel Peng, a Germantown Friends School Class of 2016 international student from China, is asking fifth graders at GFS and in rural China, “What are your dreams?” The Lower School students drew pictures of their dreams and goals to compare with the dreams of their peers in China.

“I want to provide the bridge to help kids everywhere work together to achieve their dreams and for every child to know that they are equal,” Peng explained.

On a recent Wednesday morning, he and fellow Chinese international student Sabrina Song, also Class of 2016, taught the GFS fifth graders about Chinese culture and the rural province of Yunnan, a place where kids often don’t believe that dreams can come true. He shared stories of a Chinese child who dreams of playing basketball,but has never even held a basketball; and of another child who dreams of going to college but doesn’t even attend school.

The GFS students’ dream pictures included depictions of a cleaner, pollution-free world; a home for stray cats; and aspirations of becoming famous writers, artists and singers. Fifth-grader Imogen Law said, “dreams are important because they are your hopes for the future.”

The students told Peng that they believe that most of their dreams could come true.

“The world can become more like what you want it to be,” said fifth-grader Diallo Rabb. “Martin Luther King had a dream – he had a lot of dreams – but mostly he didn’t want there to be segregation.”

Peng is working on connecting these GFS dreamers with kids in China through a pen pal program.

“The Earth is like a village,” he said, “and using the Internet it is easy to connect people.

The students and teachers at GFS have helped me live my dream of studying in America. And now he has a new dream, too: “I want to do what I can to help more people in China and around the world live their dreams.”