Our Shenzhener of the Month: Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, High School Senior – Ray Lei
Ray Lei is one of the founders and CEO of teenext.com, a social networking site designed to give students an innovative outlet outside of school to connect with each other on activities, to find opportunities and resources that may not be available via traditional channels.
Teenext was initially just the dream of a group of teenagers, trying to do something different, in the face of criticism, with many thinking that they were just goofing off.
But high school senior, Ray and his team have proved those skeptical of their dream, Teenext, wrong. Now with 15 employees in three countries, their own TED-licensed charity, thinext, not to mention the support of their fellow students, they can now look to the future. Ray, who intends to study abroad and has applied to Harvard and Stanford, says he doesn’t worry about what will happen to the site when he leaves for school, knowing that the next group of motivated students will be there to pick up the torch. “Passion”, Ray says, “never ends”.
Ray has experienced a lot in the past few months, from being, he admits, childishly idealistic to experiencing cruel realities; he knows that he still has a long way to go. While he intends to spend the future much like many other students, studying abroad, he knows he will do something different. We think that’s putting it modestly.
See the press release after the gallery.
Translated from original Chinese press release:
China’s First Student Website Teenext.com Launched
Web site forum to explore new joint charity project Thinext
November 19, 2011 – China’s first national student conference and networking website company, Teenext.com’s Thinext first forum (The THINEXT & TEENEXT.com Gala) was successfully held at the Shenzhen Concert Hall. The event was entirely organized by Teenext students, attracting the enthusiastic participation of leaders from Shenzhen Foreign Language School, Shenzhen Experimental Middle School and many other high school student leaders. The Shenzhen charity events will focus on the quality of education, The Youth All-round Education Community Fund (The Youth Education Fund). The event was supported by two illustrious guests – Youth Education Fund Management Committee Director General, Liang Yudong and off-campus practice counselor, Hu Xiaohong, who attended the event, raising Teenext hopes for the future. Activities fell into two blocks, TEENEXT website presentation and team introduction as well as the “new charity” theme for the THINEXT forum.
An Era of Youth Leadership
Teenext.com is an informative activity guide for young people, based on a comprehensive platform on which to plan extracurricular activities; intended to work through the Internet using this medium to integrate offline extracurricular activities organized by and for middle and high school students. This is in the interest of providing students and the community with an international standard of access to information on extra-curricular activities and of providing the student body with a direct line of communication to cooperate with enterprises. On the site, students will be able to browse and share extra-curricular activity information and plan their own activities in a highly interactive social environment. In the future, the site will begin developing with support from businesses to help students integrate into off-campus society and develop innovative young people with reasonably allocated social resources to provide a quality education.
Initially,Shenzhen Foreign Languages School students, Yang Chen Lei, Zhang Ding Yun and Zhao Shen Yao were aware of the limitations that school had on the scope of activities that young people were able to participate in, as the size and level of maturity of the school social environment is difficult to integrate. They wanted to look at things from the student perspective, to change the status quo, and bridge the gap between students and the community.
The original aspirations of some students came from the energetic support of the Youth Education Fund and under the guidance of education experts, they endeavored to create a student body for youth extracurricular activities in collaboration with enterprises, with the hope that utilizing the advantages of the Internet’s broad reach and convenience, combined with its highly interactive nature could be the platform for developing a student community and set off the waves of reform for students outside of school.
Teenext has a very clear organizational structure. Work is divided between the G-Team, working on technology and the M-Team, working on non-technology related activities. The G-Team, whose name is based on the English ‘Genius’, is responsible for developing the Teenext website. The M-Team, whose name is based on ‘Miracle’, is responsible for organizing Teenext events, marketing, negotiating partnerships with businesses and anything else that doesn’t relate to technology.
As young pioneers in extra-curricular projects, Teenext.com fully reflects the outstanding creativity and unique vision of high school students in Shenzhen.
New Concepts under the New Charity?
As a regular event organized by the TEENEXT Student Cyber Company and a joint project by TEENEXT.com, the Thinext Forum holds forums periodically as their main activity. Thinext has a specific topic each time. The event mainly carries out speech, supplemented by debate.
The discussion topic of the first Thinext Forum was “New Charity”, the guests and students had an intense debate on their different ideas. Zhang Puran, fromYucai Middle School, talked about his tough experience of doing charity through cycling. He and his team’s “moving on” is a Cycling-based Comprehensive Charitable Organization, they realized a core interactive method by way of collecting one RMB per one kilometer cycled, thus making bicycle cycling play a key role in the charity field.
Next up saw Guan Zheng from Ever Green Elite Preparatory School, who was inspired by his TED participation in Zhuhai. He exhibited an Encyclopedia project, a bridge that spreads new ideas and connects the most advanced thoughts between students and the world. He believed that changing the mind is the most efficient charity.
The third speaker, Lu Ziwei, who is the founder of Earth Environmental Protection Institute in the Second Experimental Middle School, illustrated “new charity” from the view of environmental protection. “Micro Loans”, the progressive concept raised by Huang Haisong from Shenzhen Middle School, met with a lot of detractors. The concept of “paying one RMB more” suggested by him is an attempt toward self-consciousness and convention of the charity.
The audience, including those responsible for school communities, chairmen of the student’s union and the guests, all participated actively in the discussions about new charity, as well as raised questions and gave suggestions toward the speakers’ points of view. The host, student speakers and the audience formed an open, free and interactive discussion forum. Hu Xiaohong made wonderful comments and profound analysis with regard to the entire forum, which was full of wisdom and thought-provoking ideas.
With a lively environment and in-depth debate, THINEXT Forum is a unique stage for youth to communicate their thoughts and a trend for innovative development.