A good example how a Raleigh alumnus’ experience not only positively affected their life but also created wider societal impact is the story of Garrison Lu Feng, who is the founder and director of Raleigh China.
Gari was one of 30 Chinese participants in the Raleigh Expedition 1998. Following the Expedition, he felt that the experience, “changed me quite a lot.
[I] went from a shy, inner-going young fellow to [an] out-going, active, [person], taking responsibilities, wanting to try new things, ready to accept new ideas, and care for other people around me.”
After the Expedition, he finished his university degree and worked for almost ten years as a teacher and policeman – a high profile career in China.
However, over the years, it became clear to him that, “Raleigh has awakened these seeds inside me and these seeds started to grow into, into a tree,” which resulted in him pursuing a Masters degree in Public Administration with a focus on social work, eventually leading him to set up Raleigh China in 2007.
Reflecting on his motivation for setting up Raleigh China, Gari said, “for policeman there are millions [of] people who can do better than me, but for Raleigh China, I am one of the few seeds that should grow.” Other Chinese alumni supported the idea and encouraged Gari to follow this path, and most of those alumni still play a key role in Raleigh China today, as advisors, and pro-active supporters through their personal and professional networks.
Raleigh China has been going strong ever since its inception. Today, Raleigh China has a network of approximately 1,500 people across 12 major cities in China. Last year, a total of 660 young people participated in their weekend programmes and five week programmes, which a parent of one participant summarised by saying “Raleigh is a place where people in a good quality [are] being discovered, nurtured and encouraged to grow.”
The vision of Raleigh China is clear: “[in the] first 10 years, it’s a tree growing and flowering, and producing fruits. Second 10 years would be from one tree to an area of woodland, with all trees blooming and producing fruits. Fruits meaning developed young people and also benefited communities. And for the third stages, it would be growing that into a forest. And also opening and the sharing our technology and experiences outside of the Raleigh forest to share with all those well passionate about working through [and] with young people to make the world a better place.”