Chen Ruiqing and Zhang Xiao organized an activity called ICommu, in which students visited American media companies. Photo provided by Chen Ruiqing
A global youth network established last June is helping local students gain the insight of traveling abroad while staying at home.
CAPE, which stands for “collective, adventure, practice and experience,” seeks to provide a platform for students to utilize global resources even if they don’t have the money or opportunity to study overseas.
“More and more people are going abroad, while at the same time, there are those who can’t,” said principal founder Chen Lu. “Yet the Internet can be used to share values and help those at home see what people abroad see.”
Chen, 24, also started a new media marketing business in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province with a friend last May. He works on CAPE, a non-profit organization, in his spare time.
Chen gets help from Shi Feng, an educational researcher. Shi was invited in 2006 to train the staff of an organization called AIESEC, which sends college students overseas. The experience made Shi think about what separates those who get the opportunity to go abroad and those who don’t.
“Many people know about the developed countries in Europe and North America,” Shi said. “But they have limited understanding about other countries. AIESEC provides a lot of young people the opportunity to observe these countries.”
“However, it failed to make those students’ observations become valuable for others. So I suggested to Chen Lu to do something as a third party.”
Chen said he thinks sharing experiences can be valuable for one’s career. Overseas students can write their experiences on CAPE’s website, capechina. org (temporarily, gypn.org).
In the organization’s early stages, Chen traveled to several cities and invited young people to join. So far, more than 500 people are signed up in 30 countries.
But the network is still unable to meet CAPErs’ demands. In January, CAPE organized its first offline gathering in Hong Kong. Subsequent events were held in Beijing and Shanghai.
As the organization matured, so did its meet-ups. Themes were set ahead of time, such as “open education,” “blogging” and “sharing.”
Shi said CAPE Meetup is similar to TEDx, an organization that invites successful people to give speeches.
“The two organizations are based on sharing,” he said. “But the difference is, CAPE Meetup creates a self-sustaining atmosphere.”
“Young people communicate with each other and share their experience through living examples,” Chen said. “It might change the way they think so that they take the initiative to try something on their own.”
Response so far has been positive. During this past National Day, Chen went to Zhoushan, Zhejiang Province for four days. He publicized a local event on Sina Weibo, and the message was forwarded more than 100 times and received more than 40 comments.
At the gathering, participants came from fields including politics, business, education, design and media.
They discussed the town’s creative energy and its values, and how to promote its sense of community.
Participants agreed that they need to establish an environment with positive energy and let others explore, try new things and engage in debate.
On October 5, Chen and other participants from the Zhoushan Meetup started the first creative marketing group, which is in charge of building publicity for exhibition openings, shows and other activities.
“I’m grateful to be a CAPEr because it gives me positive energy, confidence and friends,” said Chen Ruiqing, a student at National University of Singapore. “CAPE can expand young people’s horizons and let us see what young people are doing around the world. We can meet many like-minded people through such a platform.”
Shi said the organization works because students are enthusiastic when they go into new environments and naturally want to write about them. Each new batch of study-abroad students offers a new pool of writers.
“If we build a network, let them join in, they won’t feel isolated and helpless,” Shi said. “CAPE is that network. Youth is the future, and they have ideas on how to promote a green economy and social improvement.”
Chen plans to expand CAPE to more than 100 countries.
Shi said he hopes there will be CAPE strongholds in every city, providing a free platform for university students and graduates.
“The platform gathers kindness and enthusiasm from young people around the world, and these young people can help each other achieve their goals,” he said.