Letter to Wanbang Students
by Dr. Walters
The summer has ended. School is starting. My emotional connection to Wanbang remains strong. Miri, a senior in the Wanbang international program, visited my daughter Emma in August. We spent a fun day at the San Diego zoo. Speaking of Emma, she just left for her first year at Calvin College – now Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Emma will be studying Chinese. Her dream is to work in China as an English teacher. However, she is also entertaining the idea of working as a University recruiter or an Embassy employee. Emma’s dream was established when she studied at Wanbang in 2017.
In the United States, we use the Latin phrase “alma mater” to reference a school we have attended and that has taught us valuable information. The English translation of the phrase “alma mater” is “loving mother.” Clearly Wanbang has been and continues to be an “alma mater” to Emma, to me and to my family. Given our personal experiences, I know that over the course of this year, the Wanbang teachers and staff will be your “alma mater.” Therefore, I can with confidence say that the lessons you learn this year will impact you today and beyond. More important I know that the lessons you learn this year will help you become a person who will make our world a better place.
I believe that one of the important lessons Wanbang will teach you can be connected to the American acronym ETA. Americans use this acronym when they are trying to guess when an important person will arrive. Within the context of Wanbang, this acronym describes the steps the teachers and staff will take to nurture you into a person of impact. In other words, the type of person who makes me excited, thrilled, and honored to welcome into my home.
The ETA process starts with the letter “E” which refers to excellence. Each teacher and staff member will push you to achieve excellence. This can at times be upsetting. The extra homework assignment, the extra morning exercises, and the extra effort to be kind to and supportive of your roommates or classmates can all be overwhelming. Yet, it is the extra work that will shape you into a person who will change the world. So, I encourage you to welcome the extra. Strive to view each challenge as an opportunity to grow. Remember becoming excellent in head and heart is the greatest way to show your thankfulness to the Wanbang teachers and staff.
The idea of influencing others is connected to the letter “T” which refers to transform. We live in a time where interacting with people on an international scene is normal. We can use these interactions to get our own way or we can use these interactions to bring peace. Joy and happiness are the outcomes of peace. Helping others is the first step toward bringing about the transformation that will impact the world. Remember each teacher and staff member is committed to training you to become a leader who will influence the future in a bright and prosperous way.
Embedded within the idea of transformation is the letter “A” which refers to agile. Agile relates to being open to change. It is not change for personal excitement or wealth but rather change as a means of helping others. Please remember that each time a faculty or staff member corrects you or challenges you they are pushing you to be agile. Following your teachers’ lead will ensure you are prepared to leverage forces such as artificial intelligence rather than being left to respond in fear. Becoming an agile leader will guarantee you are prepared to make a positive impact in your city, your province, your national and our world. I can share that I look to the future with optimism because I know Wanbang is preparing you to be the next generation of wise and discerning leaders.
As I close this letter, I want to send you my blessings for this new year. If you believe, I know you will find many exciting and life-changing opportunities this school year. Listen to your teachers. Embrace their wisdom. Finally, seek to fulfill their vision for you. Trust your “alma mater” as they use ETA to teach you each and every day. You will feel the impact today and throughout the rest of your life. Enjoy the journey.
Yunji Lee(12th grade)
Throughout three years in SAP, we have been guided by the people sitting near, right behind you, as always. Looking back on my time here, there were all types of guidance from them, our teachers.
I still remember Mr. Yun coming every break time to wake us SAP 10, the people who were the youngest but who loved to sleep the most, and leading wake-up exercise. I thought I was back at Kindergarten.
During SAP 11, there were bunch of assignments to find “who I am,” and “what I like.” There was an assignment to find three adjectives that describes me and to present it in creative ways. I thought it was a waste of time, because I wanted to start my college research. But, I decided to work on it wholeheartedly, and thank you Ms. Sarah, I didn’t know then that it would help me show myself so much during college interviews and my personal essay.
And finally, during SAP 12, we are guided even further to jump out of Wanbang, and to take the first big step away from adults’ protection, but still under their guidance.
Through all the guidance, we begin to find that the guides here are somehow different. They want us to be honest in any situation. They want us to stand up by ourselves when we fall down. Just think about it, who says “I’ll let you drown” to the poor students who are worried about all those college applications and AP courses scheduled at the same time? Only Mr. David would. But through it all, I realized that they wanted to give us something that was “best for me,” and not simply “the best.”
Because, these guides are different and unique, do we feel just wonderful and admire it? No. We doubt it. And I doubted it too because the guidance I received seemed so different from what other students like us received anywhere else. It definitely wasn’t easy to believe and follow something so different and so abnormal while there were other guidelines out there, that were regarded to be “right.”
The guidance in Wanbang and in SAP tells us to keep our values and mottos with us anytime and anywhere, no matter what happens to us. Sometimes, I didn’t like this. Because many times, what I really wanted didn’t always match with the school’s values. Many times, it seemed like it was better not to follow the values because it felt like a waste of time and cost, and at times this was true.
But, because I was in Wanbang, I trained and learned to eventually hold onto the school’s and my personal values through the hundreds of choices and decisions I made - from small actions to big choices, such as college. And as I leave here (finally!), I realize how thankful it is to be able to leave this school as a grown-up individual who is able to make decisions consistent with my values.
Imagining myself in the future, walking step by step consistently within my value, I’m already proud of myself, and I know that I couldn’t have felt this if I wasn’t guided by my teachers.
So trust me (sorry to tell you to believe me when I myself struggled to believe, but I know that to you right now, we, the graduates, seem more believable than those people in the back. So again, trust me). Those of you who have been skeptical of what is happening here at Wanbang and in SAP, start believing and trusting this place. A school that will push you and guide you towards what not just the best, but what is truly best for you.
Sunyoung Park(12th grade)
Dearly beloved, teachers, friends, and fellow juniors and sophomores! Thank you all for being here today, and I must say that it’s such an honor for me to stand here and deliver a speech. Since this is the first time for me to graduate a high school, please understand if I get too nervous and start to stutter in the middle, or even suffer a heart attack.
Today, I’m going to share a story, and this is not going to be any kind of advice regarding academics or college application. If you need help in this kind of aspect, don’t ask me – just go ask teachers. I guarantee that they will give better advices than I could ever make.
Anyways, it was a hot summer day, and I was sitting in front of a fourth grade boy. He was crying because one of the classmates told him not to eat popcorn, which was supposed to be shared with everyone. He sat by the corner, and with eyes full of tears, told me that he wanted to go back home. I sat in front of him, gently held his hands, and tried my whole best to make him smile again. I told him how happy I am to be with him, and how it means a lot for me to have him in the class. By the time I saw a small smile on his face, I knew that this is why I’m here for: to be with him in this moment.
Now you might wonder what on earth this story has to do with this commemoration. Don’t worry – I’ll explain.
This story is an example of moments that are unforgettable for me. They are unforgettable because they mean a lot to me, and they are meaningful because I was profoundly engaged in all those moments. I personally have dozens of these kind of moments throughout my life in Wanbang, and these scenes created one story of myself as a high school student. And I know for sure that this story will endure time, stay in my heart, and give me joy and purpose whenever I look back.
Being wholehearted means to be authentic. It also means to be who you are and give everything you have no matter how good or bad the situation. And I believe this is the key to collect special moments hidden in our life. True. Being wholehearted can be lonely sometimes. There will be times that you might feel that you are not receiving back as much as you poured out. You might doubt yourself when nobody acknowledges your genuine love and passion for things that you believe is precious. Yet, you should remember: just because you don’t get rewarded, just because there is no one giving applauses, it does not mean that your efforts and passion were worthless.
I’m here today to encourage you to embrace the risk and have courage to be wholehearted. I want you to be brave enough to love someone with your whole heart, pour all your effort to whichever subject you are studying, and trust your teachers and don’t be afraid to follow their guide. When you participate in any kind of activities, and even when you say “hi” to someone on the hallway, be who you are, and share your genuine heart with those next to you. And I wish that from those events, you will find your moment that could touch your heart, and ultimately become part of your story that you will never forget.
When you truly engage into your life, you’ll understand how wonderful it is to see a child’s smile, how grateful to have a teacher telling you to go eat dinner, and how it is like a miracle to have a community that you belong and have friends to walk with.
Thus it is my only hope for you to cherish all the moments you live and discover those scenes waiting for you. When you find those moments, don’t hesitate to love them. The more you do, the more you care, the more your story becomes special and meaningful to you.
The majestic first image of the black hole by the Event Horizon Telescope project was released and viewed by millions this past week. The Event Horizon Telescope project involved hundreds of scientists around the world and had to utilized a global network of radio telescopes to be possible. It was an astonishing achievement accomplished by the development of modern technology to track and observe the black hole (roughly the size of a quarter on the moon seen from Earth). But in the most ironic way, this dreamy image would not have been possible without the help of traditional technology like the computer hard drives since the five petabytes of data gathered from the telescopes would have taken years to travel through the internet.
The use of typical hard drives in achieving the scientific breakthrough of imagining a blackhole came at an interesting point in time, when the reliance and increasingly faster shifts towards newer and better technology is observed throughout the world. New phones, computers and technology is annually released and continue to attract people’s interest under the claim of being modern. In most cases, newer does mean better and should be embraced; however, when it comes to raising a child and educating them, newer isn’t always better.
At Wanbang, we base our way of nurturing our students on traditional values and methodologies. As an example, our school’s motto, “Diligence, Honesty and Loving Others” are at the core of each lesson and interaction teachers have with students and are taught not by the latest technology but through the time and effort of our teachers modeling them for the students. Instead of FaceTiming with students after class, our teachers spend face to face time eating, playing and teaching. Instead of focusing on instant gratification, our teachers encourage and guide students to achieve long term goals and build their confidence throughout the process. With this traditional values and teaching methods as our foundation, we begin implementing new methodology by offering computer classes, utilizing newer class models like flipped classrooms and incorporating the newest pedagogical methods suggested by neuroscience research in our daily classes. Ultimately, it is when the values we believe to be true are the focus of our education and the latest methodology and technology merely a supporting tool that we are able to nurture our students to be astonishing and accomplished - just like image of the black hole.
The ‘6th National Arts Festival’ was hosted at Suzhou this year and was held from April 15 to 21. The arts festival also known as “Youth Olympics for the Arts” is held every three years and is the biggest art festival for Chinese teenagers with more than 10,000 final contestants participating throughout the six-day event. In the past two festivals, our Wanbang School Choir received the honor of 1st place both in 2013 and 2016. This year, performing on live TV broadcasted throughout China, our choir team once again won the honor of 1st place for their choir performance. Moreover, the choir team was invited to perform at the closing ceremony, a stage reserved only for the top of the 10,000 performers from the festival.
WHO Committee Chair - Hyun Do Joo(SAP12)
WHO Committee Chair - Jaejun Shim(SAP12)
UNHCR Committee Chair - Sang Jun Lee(SAP12)
UNHCR Committee Chair - Isaac Yang(SAP11)
Honorable teachers, and fellow students,
Today, we would like to share our story and experiences starting, planning for, and preparing for our very first WanBang Model United Nations.
Motivation for Launching WBMUN
I still vividly remember the day when I was listening to the words of my seniors two years ago in front of the fourth-floor dorm, “We are going to open a collaborated MUN with Hatsan, is there anyone who wants to participate?” Unfortunately, that plan wasn’t implemented, but I always had this small dream in my heart to successfully launch a MUN that is unique to our school. Becoming a sophomore, I started to be interested in International Relations, and to nurture my interest, I decided to take part in MUN conferences. I received awards and greatly enjoyed the experience, but was surprised how MUN was not as popular as Debate or ASDAN in our school. I wanted our peers to also experience this valuable educational opportunity, so it was decided that a school MUN should be launched.
But unlike our collective past MUN experience, instead of focusing on competition, ambitious delegates bordering on fighting with others to introduce the resolution, we planned for WBMUN to be different. Based on the words “cooperation” and “teamwork”, we planned from the beginning to create a MUN unique to the Wanbang values. And having seen how the delegates worked together throughout all sessions, and moderated and unmoderated caucus, we can proudly say that we believe we were successful.
Our Initial Reactions and Reflections on WBMUN
Walking into the conference room for the first day, since this was the very first WBMUN and most of the students were new, the chairs did not have high expectations regarding the quality of the conference; that is, we suspected that it could end in a way that is both messy and disorganized.
Instead what we observed was beyond astonishing. With activeness that overshadowed any feeling of awkwardness or lack of confidence, our delegates began expressing themselves clearly and concisely from the very first day of the session. Passionate debate ensued during unmoderated caucuses and the moderated caucus brought both eloquent and emotional speeches. We, the chairs, were wrong. We were very wrong. Our biggest concern of if we can successfully open this WBMUN melted away with each session and we were filled with raw emotions of ardor and triumph filling us from the inside out.
A better way we can express our feelings is the word touching. We felt touched because through WBMUN we saw how MUN is no longer a spec that our delegates were trying to pile up. We felt touched because we saw how our delegates regarded this experience as a stepping stone that will allow them to walk towards greater stages. Seeing how our delegates were focused on doing their best and contributing, instead of winning an award, we were genuinely touched by the mental maturity of our school’s delegates.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of America, once said, “ Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” By our teachers, we were told about Model United Nations at first but forgot. When we were taught how MUN is a place to face new challenges during our first MUN experience, we remembered. And now that we used our memories to become involved in opening the first WBMUN, we learned that we have the ability to draw our own history. That we should not be circumscribed by our surroundings in spite of difficult situations like the covid 19-pandemic.
Somebody once said that life is like an equation; that is, there is a given rule and we only need to follow the designated steps to reach our goal or to succeed. But I tell you today that this statement is not true. We do not have to follow the path which was given by the world, we can improve it with the values we have learned. We should endeavor to walk upright like a man who steps on the pure white snow where no one has stepped on. It is only then that perhaps, our footprints could become a road sign for others to follow or at the least a consolation for the people who are similarly taking challenges.
Torch bearer, global servant leader, there are many adjectives that describe our students, but to grow into such adjectives you need more than persistence and direction. It is clear to us that taking challenges to express the unique values you have learned is a major step that we should all take in order to become what we seek. WBMUN was our challenge, but know that all of you listening to us have your own personal challenges. We cannot tell you what it is going to be, but we wish you to start your own journey by seeking challenges to further step outside of the classroom and express what it means to be a torch bearer, a global servant leader. Though small, we hope that WBMUN can be that footprint on the hill to remind you all to continue your efforts.
The energetic ambiance that we felt during the session by all the delegates still flutters our hearts today, and we wish to thank you for that. Recalling what the delegates have shown us exactly one month ago, we realize that our efforts were paid back ten fold or more. The passion that you all have shown us still motivates us and makes us look forward to future WBMUNs and our continued growth as a community.
SAP 10 Samuel Kim
Austin Gutwein (gootwine), the author of this book used his talent, basketball, to help AIDS patients in Africa and that guy guides readers to find their gifts and use them for God. Austin mentioned, “God doesn’t need your help. But he definitely wants it.” Yes, God is the omniscient one; He can do anything he wants without my help. Maybe I would be a hindrance when I try to help him. But he does want me; He wants to use me for his will and his purpose. I was so grateful that my spiritual stomach started to growl (grouwl). I became hungry for God’s will and wanted to find my own gifts I have been given and use it to make a difference in the world.
When I began wondering what gifts God gave me, I could find nothing at first. Maybe it was soccer or my optimistic characteristics, but I was quite discouraged when I felt that I was not given any special talents. I prayed and kept reading this book. Afterwards, I found that I was given so many different gifts from God. The reason I could not find my gifts was that I was comparing my gifts with others; and I was hoping I could have been given their gifts, like high IQ, musical instrument, and tall body. But I was wrong; this book taught me that God made me unique from others, and God also made others different from me. As for myself, I can proudly say that He has given me gifts such as: self-discipline, public speaking, creativity, foreign languages, leadership, taking initiative, athleticism, integrity, and courage, etc. They may not be the biggest gifts compared to others. But now I love the unique gifts that He gave me regardless of the size.
Now that I have found my gifts, I began wanting to use my gifts whenever I can. Luckily, there are so many chances at our school. For instance, there are numerous student led projects, donation festivals, nursing home visits, 장학재단방문, out-reach, and so on. I do not know exactly how, but I look forward to using my gifts to its fullest in all of these opportunities.
Moreover, I want to continue to find and grow my gifts even more. I am not an adult but only a teenager. This means that it is still my best time to find more of God’s gifts and grow them. Therefore, I will keep finding what interests me through different experiences, some big like traveling, competitions, and mission trips, but also some small like dorm life, school work, and my everyday life. Then, I will develop my gifts. I will keep practicing my gifts like soccer, calisthenics, piano, etc; remember that what you now consider a hobby can be God’s gift for you too, like Austin playing basketball. If I continue to find and grow my talents, believe God will one day wonderfully use them for His will.
Throughout this book, Austin taught me that God wanted to use me. I found my uniqueness and decided to use it for God. In the same way, I want to say this: realize that God wants to use you too, find your gifts, and do not compare your gifts with others, accept your uniqueness with gratitude, and grow your gifts you have been given. Let’s study to give, grow to give, live to give. Thank you!
MC: Hi everyone! Wasn’t today’s JG full of grace? It was an energetic and joyful JG, because it was with the freshmen. I’m so thankful that today we can hold our WB talk show with them. I’m Yoonjee Song, today’s host of the WB talk show. Today I’d like to give a present filled with wisdom to you guys. Now, there comes the present!
Mr. H: Hello~ My name is Honesty. You can call me Mr. H. I’ve heard that the members of room 311 shared about me, and that’s why I’m here today.
MC: Yay! The present that I’ve prepared today is our great Mr. H!~~~~ I’m so glad to meet you~
Mr. H: May I ask you a question?
MC: Umm… sure!
Mr. H: How have you thought about me until now?
MC: Um… I’ve known about you as ”always telling the truth, and never stealing or cheating.” So, when I lied, I felt sorry to you.
Mr. H: Hahahaha! I’m a little bit sad that you’ve thought of me only as the basic meaning. I must properly introduce myself today.
MC: Wow! I can’t wait to hear it!
Freshman1: Hi! We are the freshmen students from WB school. Actually, we haven’t thought of honesty deeply before. However! The honest behaviors of my roommates, and their sharing of honesty made me think about honesty once more.
MC: I see~ It seems that the roommates’ attitude was very impressive! What was the first impression of your roommates?
Freshman2: Even when there weren’t any teachers with them, they still followed the rules and behaved with yangshim. Even though it doesn’t seem very hard, I was so impressed by it! Then, I realized, “Honesty” isn’t just not lying, but it is doing the right things even when nobody is looking.
MC: Wow, it’s a very surprising definition! Now let’s welcome the representatives of positive influence, the older students in room 311.
Older student: We found Bible verses related to honesty and did QT on those verses. Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance. (Proverbs 28:10) Through this verse, I learned that honesty is a shield that blocks me from falling into the trap of sin. To build the good ability of being honest, we need to first apply this in our lives. It doesn’t stop at just not lying, we have to do our best in any situation and obey God’s words. Honesty is an attitude toward life.
MC: Wow~ I didn’t know about the deep meaning of honesty! I believe that the sharing time with your room members would have been full of learning and wisdom because you could all share about the meaning of honesty together. The new semester just started, so I hope all WB students can apply “honesty” in their lives. Mr. H, do you have anything to say to the WB students?
MC: Thank you very much~ It was a meaningful time full of learning and wisdom. Okay, this was today’s WB talk show. We thank you all for being here today.
It is with great honor that I am here to represent the class of 2020. I’m Kyu Choi, and today, on behalf of our class, I would like to extend my gratitude to all teachers, parents, siblings, and friends.
Time flies. I still recall the first day when I came to Wanbang, confusedly staring at strangers who were madly dancing to the . It was a total culture shock for me, not only because of the dance moves themselves, but because it was actually the first time I saw such genuine smiles all around me in my lifetime. However, in just a single year later, I found myself also perfectly possessed in other quirky dance moves but more importantly the smile full of joy, which would have been equally shocking to the new students we welcomed.
Already four years has since passed, now I stand here with an opportunity to share and sum up my and our journey at Wanbang as we also look forward to a new start in college.
When I started preparing for this speech, I first asked myself, ‘what is the biggest lesson I take from our school?’ While there were many competitive candidates, my final answer to the question was ‘service,’ more familiarly, 헌신. And to elaborate, I would like to share a personal anecdote of mine.
My second semester at Wanbang was when I wasn’t perfectly settled yet. I wasn’t sure why I was here, nor what will I become after four years at this place. Perhaps it was because of my insecurities but that winter, I caught a very bad cold. I had severe headaches and the thermometer was stuck around 40 degrees. Lying down powerlessly on my bed, a teacher came and started to wipe my body with a wet towel. As my body temperature slowly fell, I was finally able to fall asleep. I woke up after an hour, and to my surprise he was still there. After two, three hours, and even until it was 6 o'clock in the morning, he was still there to check if I was ok. That morning, he came back to school exactly after an hour and started his work as if nothing had happened. That was the moment I first realized the profoundness of Wanbang teachers’ convictions to serve students, to change the next generations, and to really make multicultural global servant leaders.
There are numerous more examples. I see teachers flying to everywhere in the world to help students to take a better next step, and especially when each application cycle starts, I see our school’s counseling team struggling with sleepless nights for each student’s application. However, these are only macroscopic. There must have been so many people’s service for our success that I wasn’t able to detect. Just as a duck needs to have tremendous kicks underneath the water to swim gracefully, we were only able to continue to grow and succeed, because of countless kicks done by the teachers. And these examples that the teachers set up moved me and us graduates to do the same.
With the guidance and help of my teachers, I am heading to the finest university I can ever go to. But I don't go there for success. I go there to serve. I head to the university in the sincere faith of believing that the greatest among us was here to serve and that I too will be a servant.
Teachers, thank you very much and think you very much.
You are our shepherds. We are your disciples. And Yes, We are a family.
SAP 10 Ivy Chun
The story begins with the warning from a character named Moishe, who stated that he escaped from the cruel concentration camp. Even though he claimed people need to leave their homes right away to be safe, people did not listen to him. Soon after, Nazis herded out the Jews along with Elie, the main character, and the nightmarish journey ensues. People including Elie arrived at Auschwitz and they eventually arrived in Buna, a work camp. There, anyone who was weakened were put to death. Anyone who resisted were put to death. Anyone who had failed to survive with only one piece of bread a day were put to death. All in one, most of the Jews became inhuman to avoid their inevitable death and the main character, Elie has to suffer all of the crisis to survive.
After reading this book, the first biggest message I learned was that silence can bring harm to many. Elie Wiesel stated, “What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander.” Even though silence is something that should not be kept, unfortunately, in the story, silence was chosen among the people and it further exacerbated more people’s life. To be specific, with the increase of Anti-Semitism there was a pervasive decimation of the Jews with impermissible defamation of character. Surprisingly, what the whole society chose to do was remain silent about it all. While there was no action to fix the problem, a countless people faced a deep dark night which was an unprecedented terrible pain caused by silence. By reading this book, I now know that there is always a possibility of this great night or even smaller injustices in the future unless people desire the right things by raising their voice and breaking the silence.
Furthermore, the forgotten gratitude in my fast-paced semester could be unearthed after reading this book. “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity,” the author states, “a person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” I absolutely agree that attitude toward gratitude can define a person as it is really important. However, I also admit that so far, I have complained a lot. In retrospect, the Jews during the Holocaust period had literally nothing. They had no house, no family, no freedom and no foods. These to me are too basic to make me grateful. However, because of the lack of these fundamental things, people in Auschwitz deserted their morality and even discarded their parents to have one more piece of bread. The inhuman circumstances resulted in inhuman behaviors. In light of this story, when I looked upon my own life it was full of not only the fundamental things but also love. A piece of bread is not important in my life because there are enough food for me to eat. Instead I was also blessed with the comfort of dealing with a flow of thoughts on morality due to the endless perseverance, guidance and care of the teachers, not to mention the freedom I have to experience diverse opportunities. Nevertheless, I sought for more things for my own growing greed. For most of the time, I was in the midst of complaints, trying to get the things that were not provided to me. When in fact, I already possessed numerous things that satisfied all of the criteria for happiness.
Night. The word that used to mean tranquility now is a word that reminds me of the attitude to seek for the right thing and gratitude. Although it is a word that expresses a miserable history in the past rather than stopping there, I wish to use it to remember the lessons that I learned from the long, nightmarish journey so I can help create a better influence for our future.