Founder and President, Educating Rural Girls in China
Finalist, Social Change Award, WEST
As the founder of Educating Girls of Rural China (EGRC), Ching Tien’s deepest belief is that educated women have educated children — so providing education opportunities to women has a long lasting ripple effect and is a fundamental way to change people’s lives for the better. Since 2005, EGRC has been helping girls and young women — 842, to be exact — that live in impoverished rural regions of Western China to receive high school and university educations. Their students achieve over a 99% graduation rate, despite the fact that most of the girls have experienced hardship, discrimination and even abuse.
My first job ever was… working in a factory in a poor region of Western China.
I chose my career path because… I did not have the opportunity to finish my education in China. I believe education, and educating women is the fundamental way to build better societies.
My proudest accomplishment is… The help I have been able to offer to nearly one thousand young women. This aid has changed their lives and they are now able to lift their families out of poverty, and to give back to their communities.
My boldest move to date was… Founding EGRC when I had not much experience, funding and few connections.
I surprise people when I tell them… How much of a difference one person can make to the lives of many.
My best advice to people starting their business is… Do what you love. Trust yourself when things get tough. Keeping the expenses low is the key, especially when you’re just starting out. Stay focused on your goals and be flexible when circumstances change. Always be goal and impact focused.
My best advice from a mentor was… Start thinking and plan a way forward, have in your long term vision of a plan for succession.
“Dream big, follow your heart, and put ideas and thoughts into action.”
If I could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, it would be… My mother who passed away too early.
I would tell my 20-year old self… To dream big, follow your heart, and put ideas and thoughts into action. Learn the skill of listening.
My biggest setback was… Fortunately I’ve not experienced a big setback. My biggest challenge has been to find the right people with passion, skills and experience to work side by side with me.
I overcame it by… I am still working on it.
The last book I read was… Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
I stay inspired by… The young women and girls I have helped: seeing firsthand the difficulties they have endured – how hard they’ve worked since from young age, and how much they have achieved.
The future excites me because… The world has realized the importance of empowering girls through education.
My next step is… To focus on the longevity of my organization