SZ Daily: American expat to run marathon in Australia

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http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2014-05/26/content_2886947.htm

DEE FULLER, a 33-year-old American from Erie, Pennsylvania, is one of Shenzhen’s most athletic and charitable expats. She is a fitness instructor and a bicycle enthusiast as well, bypassing rush hour crowds on public transport and instead biking everywhere, sometimes from as far as Luohu train station to Sea World in Shekou. Now she has made the decision to utilize her athletic prowess by running the Big Red Run marathon in Australia, which raises money to fund programs that help combat type 1 diabetes.

A long-term expat, Fuller’s been in China for a full decade. After majoring in Chinese culture and psychology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., she first worked at a school in the states. Then, when the dean heard about her educational background in Chinese culture, which includes her thesis on Li Bai and Song Dynasty (960-1279) poetry — she was invited to teach in Beijing.

“I was in Beijing for 17 months,” said Fuller. “Then I was in Guangzhou for six-and-a-half years before ending up in Shenzhen.”

Although she studied the culture, she didn’t have any language skills upon arrival. Today she is fluent, but it took a lot of work. “When I first arrived, my Chinese students asked questions and I didn’t know how to communicate the answers,” Fuller explained. “I decided I wanted to understand more, and I immersed myself in Chinese. I mainly read children’s books.”

Six years ago, she decided to expand on her experiences by becoming a fitness instructor. “Spinning was my first class, and then I started to get involved in yoga and Pilates.”

Fuller also became a certified coach for the New Zealand company Les Mills. “I’m now a certified nutritionist. I have ISSA certificate.”

With Les Mills, she helps train Chinese instructors who will later teach international customers. Sometimes that means teaching the Western cultural perspective in addition to fitness techniques. “There is culture behind dance. From Latin beat to pop ballet, EDM to disco — it’s very important to know the culture behind it.”

“On May 29th, I’m doing an event at Tavern sports bar in Shekou to raise money for type 1 diabetes awareness,” continued Fuller. “There will be a raffle, lucky draw, and more.”

In July, she plans to go all the way to Australia to participate in the Big Red Run marathon, an intense 6-day marathon covering 250 kilometers that brings together volunteers from all over the world and raises funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

“I want to get back to being involved in charity work. I used to donate my time in America with the Salvation Army and the Special Olympics. Since I moved to China I haven’t had as many opportunities. This is a chance to do something I love for a bigger purpose outside of me,” Fuller said, “It just feels good when you do it.”

More information can be found on the Big Ren Run website, bigredrun.com.au.

SZ Daily: Expat cycles to India for good cause

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Kaisa Ansper, biker and charity driver and all-around great gal’

http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2014-04/28/content_2856590.htm

BIKING thousands of kilometers across the high-altitude terrain of multiple nations is not for the average person. Few would even for a second consider the concept, but a unique sort relishes in taking on challenges of endurance while experiencing the unexpected along the road. And it’s a good thing for some kids in India and China that one of those sorts is in Shenzhen.

“Stay positive and good things will come,” says 30-year old Estonian Kaisa Ansper. On August 1 she will hit the road to raise money for her charity effort, Bonfire Heart, setting out to pedal from Shenzhen to Mumbai, India. The journey will take her along Friendship Highway through Tibet to Nepal. She expects the cycling trek will take about 77 days. Sponsorship and donations will go toward funding her trip, as well as to two charities: Shenzhen Min Ai Disabled Children’s Welfare Center which helps disabled children; and Amcha Ghar, a home for girls in India.

“I’m trying to bring attention to these charities,” she explained. “Min Ai is amazing! But they need new machines to help the children. They receive little money from the government, so they depend on private donations.”

Certified by the Shenzhen Disabled People Association, Min Ai is located in Futian District. The center offers specialized education for physically and mentally-challenged children, including rehabilitation training, psychological treatment, medical care, nursing and nutritional help. More information is available on their website: min-ai.org.

“I don’t have children myself,” she explained while planning her arrival at the Amcha Ghar home in India. “Hopefully I can teach art and English there. It’s a good way to help the next generation. The center gives the girls a home, safety, an education and hope.”

Amcha Ghar home for girls aids abused and homeless children in India. A primary goal is to educate and transform the unskilled girls into skilled women, able to lead independent lives. Amcha Ghar’s website is amchaghar.org.

Ansper now teaches art and language to Shenzhen kids. “I came to China after seven years of international travel,” Ansper said. “I was raised bilingual. I had relatives in Sweden and Finland and my family traveled a lot between those countries.”

Ansper is of a diverse background. “From Japan I moved to Wuhan to teach English. Then I moved to Guangzhou and worked for a Chinese company in marketing. I managed to find an investor and I started In the Red magazine. It was great running it, but it was stressful and I gave it up.”

“I decided to settle in a new city. I’d visited Shenzhen many times. I liked the city, so I moved here.” Ansper says she has enjoyed her year in Shenzhen. “It’s clean compared to other cities. I love the access to beaches, it’s good for cycling and the roads are wide. It’s green with plants everywhere. The Shenzhen government is doing a great job building cycling paths, ramps, parks and greenways.”

Taking full advantage of the paths, she cycles nearly everywhere she needs to go. “I’ve always like cycling. It’s good for the environment, healthy and fun. Other people take the metro, I take my bicycle.”

On the evening of May 8th, Ansper will attend an open mic music event at Rapscallions Café Bar, Shopping Park, Futian District. There she will accept donations in person. “It’s a great way to help less advantaged kids,” she said.

More information about Kaisa Ansper’s charity drive and how to contribute is at bonfireheart.wix.com/bonfireheart.