15 Aug, 2023
16 : 12
Starting this month, the graduates of 2023 will embark on flights to destinations far and wide all over the world, eagerly anticipating the start of a brand new chapter in their lives. Reflecting on their years spent at YCIS Shanghai, these newly-minted adults find themselves inundated with a range of mixed emotions.
Like so many of their peers, they have faced challenges of uncertainty, despair, and confusion. However, they have persevered through these obstacles and emerged from the fog, having realized their aspirations thus far.
In this sea of exceptional graduates, we have had the privilege of inviting six representatives to share their unique stories of growth and discovery. (Note: The graduates featured in this article all come from the Puxi campus. Next week, we will bring you the stories of graduates from Pudong, so stay tuned!)
Embracing Diversity through International Education：My Journey from Leaving Home
At the tender age of nine, Owen and his family left their hometown of Xiamen and resettled in Hong Kong. Unlike the scenic and slow-paced "garden city" he was accustomed to, Hong Kong was fast-paced and trendy, but also more indifferent. For Owen, who was new to the city, language was the first obstacle he needed to overcome.
As a student at a local school, most of his new classmates were native Hong Kong children who naturally preferred to play and communicate in Cantonese during leisure time. Not being able to speak or understand Cantonese, Owen found it difficult to adjust and gradually became introverted.
In Year 6, Owen transferred to Yew Chung International School of Hong Kong, which values both Chinese and English education equally.
In a short period of time, this international school won Owen over and helped him overcome his struggles. With small class sizes providing ample support from teachers, Owen was able to participate in various clubs such as the saxophone ensemble and baseball team, allowing him to confidently showcase his strengths.
Due to family reasons, Owen moved from Yew Chung International School of Hong Kong to YCIS Shanghai in 2020. The same educational system spared him the trouble of transition and allowed him to interact with more companions who have different cultural backgrounds.
He excelled in student council and volunteer activities and gradually grew personally through encountering and communicating with people from different backgrounds.
Nicolas, who was born in Gabon in Africa, is also a child who grew up in a multicultural environment. Before the age of seven, he had been living in Gabon and attending a local international school.
After returning Shanghai, he spent a year in public education before coming to YCIS Shanghai where he graduated. Every vacation, he flew back to Gabon, and frequent trips allowed him to observe the differences between the two places more clearly.
"Compared to the enthusiasm of the local people in Africa - no matter what your skin color is, they will smile and greet you warmly - walking on the streets of China, all we can feel is hurry and bustle."
However, Nicolas also admitted frankly, "I understand and accept these differences. What we see with naked eyes is only the explicit part, but there is much more hidden beneath the surface, which is what we should really focus on."
Different cultures do not necessarily mean conflict and competition. Nicolas has many good friends from different countries. Although facing the pressure of further studies, they still encourage each other and make progress together.
Warmly Embracing the World before Conquering it
Contrary to many of the answers heard, Yo Rong, who has been studying at YCIS Shanghai since Y2, most enjoys buying clothes in her spare time. She relishes pairing different items together and investigating the styles and colours of each garment.
Growing up in an artistic family, Yo Rong has a great sense for art. However, becoming a fashion designer or model was not where her true aspirations lay. Beneath her bright exterior lies a mature young lady with a passion for psychology and sociology.
This April, she received her acceptance letter for the Fashion Psychology Program at University of the Arts London. Unlike pure art subjects, this major focuses on psychology to cultivate students' profound understanding of the fashion industry and culture. For Yo Rong, it is the perfect major that combines her strengths and interests.
From a very young age, she has been adept at perceiving others' emotions and has been deeply curious about the world. She enjoys observing people's interactions and communication styles, pondering whether there are deeper reasons and implications behind these differences.
She also reflects on the social and cultural factors that affect people's psychological behavior, such as religion, values, traditions, and history. When it comes to social issues, she pays more attention to the underlying causes, such as social structural issues, wealth disparity, and aging population.
During her IB course selection process, she was the only student in the entire grade who chose Geography. In order to ensure that the class could be offered, she even went to the school office to apply.
Despite her weakness in science subjects, she also chose biology as one of her IB exam subjects.
Nicolas and Owen both have decided to pursue a degree in Economics.
As Nicolas traveled between China and Africa, he witnessed first-hand the stark economic disparities that define our world.
He experienced power outages and water shortages in Africa and saw locals living in makeshift homes constructed of corrugated iron or wooden sticks, constantly at risk of losing their homes due to lack of resources.
Nicolas deeply understands the potential of Africa's abundant natural resources, but also recognizes the barriers to success faced by people who lack access to education and opportunities for upward mobility. His desire to help those in need has inspired him to study economics.
For Nicolas, this field is not just about making money, but also about learning how to resolve issues such as market competition, resource allocation, production efficiency, and more - all with the aim of helping society move towards greater prosperity.
Owen shares similar views on the transformational potential of economics. To him, studying issues of resource allocation and social-economic patterns allows us to see the world from a different perspective. He believes that acquiring this knowledge can help pave the way for substantive change and progress in society.
Beyond economics, Owen has a passion for Physics, which he sees as a tangible and practical pursuit that can be used to understand many of the phenomena we encounter in daily life.
Nicolas, on the other hand, is drawn to Chemistry and its pervasive influence on our lives, even though we cannot see or touch it directly.
When it comes to choosing their majors, Yo Rong, Nicolas, and Owen did not hesitate much.
Yo Rong hopes that every student will find their own goals, focus on their interests, and not be swayed by others' opinions. Once you set a goal, you should strive to achieve it to the best of your abilities.
Similarly, Owen emphasized the importance of pursuing what truly interests you.
Be the Light for Others
"The 'Mathematics God' is another name for Donghyuk, a Korean student who studied at YCIS Shanghai in the past 2 years. When faced with mathematical problems, he writes with divine precision and expertise, excelling in the subject and stepping firmly onto the pedestal of excellence. As a result, his peers and underclassmen look up to him as a shining example.
However, only four years ago when he was still attending a public school in Korea, he was an average student who did not stand out. "At that time, we had 30 students in each class, and I remember only once scoring first place in a maths exam."
Recognising the intense competition within the Korean education system, Donghyuk's parents decided to bring him to China for schooling. Initially, they spent a year and a half in Changchun before settling in Shanghai.
Encouraged by his teachers and friends at YCIS, Donghyuk gained confidence and achieved outstanding results in world-class competitions such as the American Mathematics Competition (AMC) and the UK Mathematical Challenges.
To help more students who enjoy mathematics excel in competitions, he founded the Mathematics Club and tutored students in grades 12 and below in preparation for various contests.
While illuminating others through his teaching, Donghyuk also realised his own passion for teaching. When he saw his students progress due to his guidance, he felt an indescribable sense of accomplishment.
Nicolas's parents always taught their son to help and treat others with kindness within his capabilities. Whenever Nicolas returns to Africa, he immerses himself in local charity projects such as distributing clothes, food, and learning materials to children, using his humble efforts to assist them.
During his time at YCIS, he also participated in activities to help children with autism and worked as a volunteer teacher at a school for children of migrant workers, delivering warmth and knowledge to those less fortunate.
"This world is filled with inequality and poverty, and everyone has the power to change these situations."
The Graduates of 2023, who are energetic and ambitious, are also about to embark on a wider journey in their new lives. As David, one of the graduates, said in his graduation ceremony speech,
“Our graduation is not the end of our narratives but a new beginning—a chance to continue writing, growing, and embracing the beautiful complexity of life. It is up to us to seize the pen and write our stories with intention, purpose, and authenticity. But while we advance in our lives, keep in mind the power we have in lighting up the paths of others, be someone that positively influences people around us, as true success lies not in solo ascent to the mountain’s peak, but in bringing others alongside you towards the summit.”
Dear 2023 graduates, may you go forth with courage and grace, and make a positive impact upon the world!