Jun Lei, the renowned founder of Xiaomi, Inc.—a Chinese technology company that manufactures smartphones, mobile apps, and other consumer electronics—has invested in more than 70 start-up companies through his incubator Guanggu. A representative of Guanggu recently interviewed Sharon Xueqing Feng, entrepreneur and founder of NAYTEA (North American Youth Technology Education Association) and her work in helping promote access to advanced technology curriculum frequently referred to as STEAM/AI.
How did your family influence your view of education?
My parents helped shaped my view of education by always encouraging me to try and to do the things that interest me. This allowed me the freedom to choose my own path and to be motivated by goals I set for myself.
What attracted you to work in the field of education?
Education has always been my passion. Based on my ten plus years of experience in global marketing and management, I noticed that China started developing the key areas of STEAM/AI education 4 years ago. This marks the beginning of a revolution in teaching. I realized that by considering my creativity and cross-cultural experience, I had a lot to contribute to the continued growth of education, particularly in the areas of technology.
What do you consider the essence of education?
It is the same thing my parents allowed me to do. They let me discover and develop through my natural curiosity and natural motivation to learn about the world. Empower children to set goals and achieve them without fear and they will do amazing things.
When did you start NAYTEA and what do you want it to achieve?
I founded NAYTEA one year ago with a core team interested in being involved in the new educational revolution. It is our ambition for NAYTEA to bridge the gap between China and other countries in STEAM/AI education. I’m enthusiastic about utilizing cutting-edge technologies to empower educators and students around the world to break through cultural barriers to bring people together and provide solutions. NAYTEA brings together resources from many different sources to formulate creative and effective approaches to our projects.
What strategic advantage does NAYTEA bring to table?
NAYTEA is establishing an open educational platform that bridges national boundaries. It will employ technology to track performance and provide valuable feedback for educators. It allows teachers to build a record of success that documents their commitment to professionalism.
What has presented you and NAYTEA the most challenges?
Our team has a wide range of experience, yet, the Chinese education community has its complexities. I have been away from China for ten years and many things have changed since then. We are working quickly to establish familiarity with this very large system, including the various policies, after school programs, and even understanding the basic structures that make it work.
What role is NAYTEA playing in supporting the 2019 Shanghai International STEAM Curriculum Developer Conference?
Our involvement with the 2019 Shanghai International STEAM Curriculum Developer Conference represents part of our efforts at serving a key role in advancing the access Chinese educators have to some of the best STEAM/AI curriculum available anywhere. I want NAYTEA to be seen as a valuable and respected resource for educators.
What is the most rewarding part of this journey you have begun?
I am a dreamer and very persistent when it comes to achieving my goals. It is encouraging for some very experienced people to see my dream and join this effort bringing their skills and passion to help. We all know that this is just the start. As the NAYTEA Team grows and achieves significant accomplishments by serving as a global leader in STEAM/AI education, we will create even bigger dreams and achieve more accomplishments together.
The above questions and answers are not an exact transcript of this interview, rather a synopsis of the essential elements of what was discussed.