By: Jonathan Ye

On August 12th, Global Leadership Initiative (GLI) held its 5th annual talent show at Tri-Valley Chinese Bible Church. Hundreds of people from the community attended the event. Pleasanton and Livermore high schoolers Darron Dai, Andrew Wang, Shannon Yan, and Ashley Zhuang were the MCs for the show, introducing performances and making the audience laugh in between.

Before the show began, Co-Presidents and Program Directors Kevin Gao and Shannon Yan introduced the audience to GLI and its core members, and Communication Director Michael Zhu gave a presentation about all of the different projects that GLI runs.

For the second year in a row, members from Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN) performed at the event. FCSN is a Bay Area organization that focuses on nurturing youth with autism and discovering their often hidden talents and abilities. Anna Wang, one of the co-founders of FCSN, spoke before the performances. She expressed her gratitude for GLI inviting them back to showcase the talent of FCSN’s members. “Often with children of mental disabilities, people focus on what they cannot do, but we focus on what they can do,” she said in her speech. All of the acts by the FCSN youth were received with hearty applause. They were truly an inspiration to everyone, showing how any obstacle can be overcome, and how everyone is special and talented.

Award-winning dancers Ashley Zhuang and Rena Gong each showcased energetic contemporary solo dances, and Bella Chu presented an elegant Chinese solo. Another traditional Chinese act was the trio Ashley Li, Hannah Yu, and Janet Xing, performing the dance “Soma Flowers Blooming”. Their bright, colorful dresses made for a dazzling swirl of red, yellow, and blue. FCSN’s Dream Seeker dance team displayed impressive agility and coordination through a fusion of martial arts and Bollywood dance. Another powerful and entertaining act was Pure Shaolin Kung Fu’s demonstration of Chinese martial arts, which mixed beauty and grace with ferocity in a whirlwind of swords, spears, and fists.

The instrumental acts took the audience on a journey of music from West to East. The first musical act was a rendition of Vivaldi’s Violin Double Concerto by six talented high schoolers, including Roger Sun, who has played at Carnegie Hall three times and is the concertmaster for the El Camino Youth Symphony Senior Orchestra, as well as Kevin Gao, David Xu, Jeffrey Huang, Ryan Liu, and Jessica Phongsa. The show also included several award-winning musicians such as Justin Wang and FCSN’s Max Chan. In addition, two groups demonstrated how music is an excellent way to perpetuate Chinese culture and art. The first was a ensemble playing a variety of traditional Chinese instruments, and the other was a GuZheng quintuplet led by Sandy He.

The show’s vocal acts also wowed the audience. Jenny Wang sang and played the piano for a heartfelt performance of “This is Us,” a song she wrote herself. In addition, four young singers performed “Anything You Can Do,” a unique musical theater act that coupled singing with choreography by Ashley Zhuang for a lively, playful performance. FCSN’s Dream Achievers band performed “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and “We are the World”, accented by Lawrence Wang’s spot-on vocals and Greg Herbert’s impressive high-notes. By the end, much of the audience were dancing, singing, and waving along. The final act was GLI’s own band, 7pM, formed by Darron Dai, performing “Roar” by Katy Perry. Eric Chang’s crashing drums, coupled with Reda Jia’s powerful vocals, brought the night to a close with a strong and energetic finish.

In addition to giving the audience high-quality entertainment, the talent show also raised thousands dollars through ticket sales. All of this money will be donated to various causes, including FCSN, Autism Speaks, Action for Children, San Francisco City Impact, Family Giving Tree, and many more. GLI is very grateful for all the volunteers and performers who participated in making the event as great as it was, and letting the community come together for an entertaining night.

One of the songs that FCSN’s Dream Achiever band played was “We are the World”. Lawrence Wang sang a line that stood out to me: “There’s a choice we’re making/We’re saving our own lives” because it applied so perfectly to the event. FCSN’s performances will help other special needs children to discover their own talents and abilities, and create a positive cycle of giving. This event showed how, no matter who we are, anyone is capable of achieving their dreams and helping make the world a better, happier place.

The talent show brought together a variety of people of different backgrounds, talents, and cultures for a night of laughter and entertainment, excitement and awe, and beauty and inspiration. GLI has allowed for youth to use their diverse talents and skills to give back the community and benefit everyone.

After the performances, Presidential Service Volunteer Awards (PVSA), which recognize standout volunteer service, were handed out to several GLI members: Darron Dai, Kevin Gao, Michael Zhu, and Shannon Yan, who all received Gold Awards, the highest award.

A special thanks to all who made this event possible:

Program Directors: Kevin Gao, Shannon Yan

Masters of Ceremony: Ashley Zhuang. Andrew Wang, Darron Dai, Shannon Yan

Media Directors: Darron Dai, Eric Luo

Communication Director: Michael Zhu

Stage Directors: Kevin Gao, John Zhou

Public Relations: Ashley Zhuang

Program Design: Angela Chu

Sales Managers: Roy Lin, Rena Gong

Event Reporter: Jonathan Ye

And all other volunteers: Alan Xu, Caroline Gong, Daphne Yan, Jack Chung, Susannah Liu, Annie Sui, Emily Yang, Peter Li, Laryn Qi, Victor Kao, Stephanie Tang, Christine Li, Veronica Gong, Ruyi Ma, Lisa Liu, Kevin Gu, Mona Li, Nanxiang Wang, Kevin Zhu.

A big thanks to the audience as well, for coming and supporting GLI, FCSN, and the community as a whole.

Note: This article is published in The independent, a local newspaper.  The article is linked below: