We Are Inspired: Zhan-Zhan Ge
November 15, 2016

Zhan-Zhan Ge

One Awesome Kid

Zhan-Zhan Ge doesn’t remember much about his time in China; he was just two years old when his parents decided to immigrate to Canada. But the now 13-year-old understands that, “They moved here because they wanted me to live in a better environment.”

The family chose to live in Surrey, and Zhan-Zhan says he feels right at home. Now in Grade 9 at Fleetwood Park Secondary School, he adds that he has never experienced any real racism. He can recount only one account of bullying in his life: “One day I wore pink pants to school and got picked on,” he says.

 If that’s the only moment of bullying he can remember, Zhan-Zhan is well ahead of many other kids. It could be because he is well-liked and positive, or that he’s just plain awesome (at seven years old, he gave himself the moniker of Zhan-Zhan the Awesome, and it still sticks!).

These days, a more mature Zhan-Zhan defines himself as curious and intellectual. He is definitely a little more inspired than many youth his age. While he enjoys playing video games as much as the next kid, he might be one of only a handful who actually started teaching himself computer programming to improve his game. “I taught myself modding for Minecraft through Javascript,” he says.

It’s not his computer programming skills that are most impressive, however; it’s the way he engages with other youth, his neighbours and the community at large.

At just 10 years old — just 10! — he planned a community event called Diversity in Art.  “I just had an idea to show art from different cultures,” he says. “My mom told me about a program where you apply for a grant to make the community a better place.” So, with his mom Mary’s guidance, he applied for a Neighbourhood Small Grant from the Vancouver Foundation. These small grants of up to $500 aim to build community at the neighbourhood level.

With the grant, he rented the clubhouse in his townhouse complex and set up different stations featuring art from various cultures. The industrious boy printed up flyers and handed them out among his neighbours and fellow students. “We had a lot of people coming in. Most of them were kids, with some parents, too,” he says. “I feel kind of good about helping out the community.”

In the last three years, he went on to apply for several other grants for more of his inspired ideas, and, most recently, Zhan-Zhan became a mentor in the grant process. He helped a friend who had an idea for a community basketball program to co-apply for a grant.

“My friend wanted to see younger, elementary kids learn basketball,” says Zhan-Zhan. “We mostly did games and some drills to sharpen their skills.”

Soccer is Zhan-Zhan’s preferred sport, however, and he plays with the Surrey United Soccer Club. In school, IT and science are his favourite subjects. “I want to be an electrical engineer when I grow up,” he says.

There’s no doubt that Zhan-Zhan will work hard to achieve any goals he has in the future.

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