As a child, Waisin Tam emigrated with his family from—literally—the other side of the world. “I am Chinese/Asian, born in Hong Kong. I came to America when I was 8 years old,” said Waisin. “I started school knowing no English. I also had a hard time in middle school because of racial prejudice.”
As a senior in high school, he had big dreams for the future. He credited the challenges he overcame in school with inspiring him to help others through the Teen Trendsetters program. “Young children need a role model and someone to talk to, especially if they’ve had a hard day. It helps them get through it,” he said.
“Young children need a role model and someone to talk to, especially if they’ve had a hard day. It helps them get through it.
As he approached his high school graduation. Waisin reflected on obstacles he faced in school along the way. He remembered what is was like to be 8, struggling to learn and wanting to fit in. He used those experiences to help make himself a better mentor. Waisin was keenly aware that the elementary students he mentored were the same age he was when he moved to America, and that his volunteerism made a big difference.
Waisin’s older sister also served as a Teen Trendsetters mentor and encouraged Waisin to join the program. He thanked her for getting him involved. As for sticking with the program all four years of high school, he gave that credit to the mentees. “The reasons I volunteer year after year are the happy faces of the children,” said Waisin. From Teen Leadership to Student Government to IT Academy, Waisin kept busy while preparing for graduation, but still made time one hour a week to make an impact in the life of a child.
His words of wisdom for fellow and future Teen Trendsetters mentors: “Make a connection, build the relationship, and have fun. It will fall into place,” he said.
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