12 Aug, 2022
10 : 00
Azalea is one of the recipients of the YCIS Shanghai Tsang Chor-hang Scholarship for the 2022-23 academic year and will begin her first year of IB in Year 12. Azalea joined YCIS Shanghai in Year 2 and has been evolving with her peers and teachers across our three campuses in Puxi for ten years. In addition to her academic achievements, Azalea is active in various activities and even co-founded the Model United Nations delegation at YCIS Puxi. She was a member of the School Leadership Team and President of the school's choir. During the scholarship review process, YCIS Puxi Head of Performing Arts Ms Jennifer Gaul spoke highly of her, "Azalea embodies the values of YCIS. She is a student of long-standing and a genuine tribute to a YCIS education."
Over the much-deserved summer break of 2021, Azalea still made time to review journals on one of her interests, climate change, and contact her peers from Years 9 - 11 to see if they would be interested in joining YCIS Puxi's MUN CCA for the upcoming school year.
It was Azalea's first time taking on a leadership position for MUN, and she felt a mix of excitement, nostalgia, uncertainty, and a sense of responsibility that she had not felt before.
The biggest challenge Azalea faced with her new appointment at MUN was that most of her peers are relatively new to the mock debate that is MUN. Even when she pitched the concept to her friends, they did not understand the details, purpose, or actions at first.
After a lot of communication, patience, and persuasion, Azalea tells us that students were positively influenced and started to see the allure in debate and MUN, signing up to be part of different delegations alongside their YCIS Puxi peers. Once countries were allocated to the student groups, they too, over the summer holidays, started to research and discuss the pertinent topic of climate change.
Four months later, during YCIS Shanghai's first Model United Nations event, more than 30 delegates represented various UN countries and debated the topic of climate change. It was a great success! Azalea saw her classmates support each other and work together, creating invaluable bonds and long-lasting friendships, which to her was one of many rewarding outcomes.
Azalea reflects on her efforts behind the scenes to organise the first MUN at school and says, "I was able to direct my energy towards something I am passionate about, climate change. I went beyond reading, research, and regular textbook learning when starting up MUN at school and it gave me a lot of experience in leadership and project management." She adds, "I was also grateful to be able to work with seniors Sophia and Anna and the team teachers, to be part of starting such a great community, as feels great to meet and interact with different people and work towards a single goal."
Similarly, Azalea is also a member of the school's Student Leadership Team and the President of the YCIS Shanghai Puxi Choir, which, on a day-to-day basis, involves dealing with teachers, parents and students, as well as planning different types of campus events. Through her experience at MUN, being the Choir CCA President added to her leadership skillset. "In choir, I have to guide my classmates on how to sing, coordinate with the other voices, and organise practices based on everyone's schedule. I don't particularly see myself as a 'President', but more as someone who guides and serves everyone. I enjoy working with my peers and feel proud and fulfilled by the respect I gain from them in the process."
Azalea is a unique individual. As a child, she preferred to play alone while the neighbourhood children played in groups. Azalea still prefers studying documentary after documentary about the earth and its animals, being immersed in the natural world on the other side of the screen, marvelling at the beauty of the images and the stories. "I've watched Prehistoric Park too many times, and to this day I'm still obsessed with dinosaurs. They're incredible! "
As a child, Azalea also took to reading and her current favourite genre is non-fiction, with Sapiens being her favourite. "I highly recommend this book to everyone, it covers a wealth of expertise in archaeology, biology, and history that is practical and relevant to our society."
Unlike most of her peers, Azalea prefers audiobooks to paper books, "to be honest, I can be quite restless sometimes and find it challenging to settle down and finish a thick book that I may not be interested in. By listening to audiobooks I can concentrate better and absorb the information more easily."
For about a year now, Azalea has been running a personal blog where she publishes fiction, poetry, and music lyrics. Sharing with fans and other creators has been personally rewarding for the young creative, "The experience has greatly helped me learn and understand other people's perspectives, and has provided me with an endless source of creative inspiration."
Azalea's parents allow her to explore new interests and always at her own pace. At the age of three, Azalea was first introduced to the piano and the beauty of the keys traversing the board making sounds mesmerised her as a beginner. As she continued to travel to and from various exams and piano competitions, she became increasingly anxious and frustrated and decided to put the piano on hold with the support of her parents. Since then, she has taken up guitar and used her free time to refine her singing skills.
"I feel that music can give me solace and make me calmer. I have also made many friends through music and these have become the reasons why I love music and I am very motivated and more able to do well in what I am interested in."
After giving up the piano for two years, Azalea picked up her love for it again and was surprised to discover the magic that flows from her fingertips when she plays music. "I can feel what was going on in the mind of the composer at the time the piece was being written or played, which is an amazing feeling. This makes me love the art even more and I believe that my ability and interests will continue to grow."
Azalea joined YCIS Shanghai in 2012 and is now in her tenth year. From a young learner in Year 2 exploring the world around her to a more inquisitive and opinionated individual, she has always had a strong record of academic achievement. "I am not a particularly industrious student, but I am very intentional and once I set a goal I have tunnel vision to work towards it. It brings me satisfaction in seeing my goals achieved, which is an encouragement and a motivator to myself."
Guided by her internal drive, Azalea has excelled in all subjects and studied Spanish and Portuguese in addition to her regular course load. Her interest in learning languages was nurtured by the international environment at school. Azalea says, "within the YCIS family, I have the opportunity to meet students and teachers from different cultures, which has enhanced my worldview. My friend is Brazilian, so from time to time I would hear her speaking Portuguese around me, and slowly I was able to speak some simple words, and then I started to learn on my own. Learning a language is fun because there is always something new to learn that connects to the culture and history of its people. It's not just about vocabulary and grammar - there's more depth to it than that."
In science, Azalea's trick to retaining information is to relate what she learns to real life, "Once you discover the practicality of knowledge, you realise the brilliance of it, and then you have a desire to explore and learn more." Azalea says that she enjoys STEAM-related learning not only because it is interesting in itself but also because it allows her to reflect on the environment she lives in. "Since I was a child I have always loved anthropology, ecology, and zoology-related knowledge and I am curious to learn more about it."
Soon Azalea will head into her first year of IB and for greater horizons. The scholarship award acknowledges Azalea's contribution to YCIS and her academic distinction. Azalea also sees it as an encouragement to be more active as a role model for her younger peers and to have the opportunity to showcase her talents in various CCAs.
The IBDP at YCIS Shanghai is designed to meet the needs of our motivated Secondary students between the ages of 16 and 18. Following this rigorous two-year pre-university course of study, a YCIS graduate will have completed this comprehensive programme providing an additional certification that exceeds the requirements of many national education systems around the world, making it the ideal qualification for international students.
When we asked Azalea about her future hopes and ambitions, she confidently said, "I want to be a happy person no matter what I do, to be able to find peace within myself, and joy from what I do. If I can accomplish something to make the world a more honest place, that's even better."
She is reluctant to limit herself to a specific field too soon, and in her opinion, in the future, law, languages, education, psychology, and history are all viable options. "I love all these subjects and look forward to helping more people in the future in my unique way."