FPD sophomore Jackson Dai started attending FPD in 2018. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, he was unable to return to the United States in 2020, but continued his studies with First Presbyterian Day School through virtual learning. His teachers helped him learn and grow through online assignments, texts, and videos.

Jackson decided to take his studies further and teamed up with a group of ten students in China to participate in the China Thinks Big competition sponsored by Harvard University. Jackson used the skill sets and academic knowledge gained at FPD to lead his team. Named “Light up the Stars,” Jackson and his fellow teammates studied autism and decided to build awareness about communicating with people with autism. They designed picture books and music to help autistic children and their peers better communicate with each other.

“Our group found that autism has always been a large but neglected group,” note Jackson. “Every student in our group happens to have an acquaintance with autism, so we realize that it is very important to care for and help autistic patients. And China Thinks Big is also a good platform to stimulate students’ thinking ability, creative thinking and help them establish good social values, and try to think about what they can contribute to society. Therefore, we want to sincerely do what we can for autistic groups through China Thinks Big.”

Upon completion, the team published and shared their work along with the final picture books and music.

The judges of China Thinks Big were impressed and the Light up the Stars team took home first place, receiving an invitation to compete in the global competition in October.

Jackson’s team success and his passion for helping others is not surprising to Christina Bowker, FPD’s ESL Teacher.

“Jackson is a fun-loving and passionate student to teach,” noted Mrs. Bowker. “He loves music and has used his art to empower children living with autism. I am so proud to see Jackson’s passions come alive and used to help others!”