Spring is here in Harbin! All traces of snow and ice are gone and buds are starting to appear on the trees. With the signs of life and regrowth returning to nature, this season is also an exciting one for our program!
Our seniors are wrapping up a very eventful college application season. Most of the college results are back, with a few international school results yet to come. Our eight seniors have been accepted to many high-quality schools in the U.S. and around the world, including:
Agnes Scott University
Indiana University - Bloomington
University of Florida
University of Georgia
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
University of Rochester
University of Utah - Asia Campus
University of Washington - Seattle
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Coming this week, Harbin Wanbang School is excited to host for the first time, an informational seminar about U.S. colleges to be given by a team from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We think this will be an excellent opportunity for our students as well as other students and families in the area.
Another semester begins! We have many exciting things to look forward to in the Spring 2017 semester.
Here in Harbin, snow still covers the ground. While still sub-zero, the temperatures are slowly creeping higher as spring nears. Firecrackers signal local shops reopening their doors after the long break. The streets around Wanbang fill again with busy residents and students resuming their daily lives.
Our seniors have submitted a record number of applications to universities across the U.S., Hong Kong, and China and are eagerly awaiting news. Some of them have already begun to receive acceptances and scholarship offers.
Our juniors are all working hard on their own college search, looking for the best options for them and learning how to determine which schools are the best fit for them.
The 10th graders have just completed the second week of their 2-week Winter Intensive course introducing them to the TOEFL exam. This will kick-start a focused preparation for the TOEFL exam that they will add to their current rigorous academic schedule.
Later this spring, Wanbang is looking forward to hosting visits from several different American universities. We hope that this will continue to inspire our students to pursue higher education in America. We strive to make sure our students are prepared to succeed at any U.S. university or any university around the world.
In May, the 11th and 12th graders will be taking a total of 41 AP Exams! This year, because of a recent change in the SAT Exam schedule, our juniors will also be taking the SAT in May as well. This will be a very busy month for our students.
2017 and the spring semester hold a lot of uncertainty and excitement. As program director, I am proud of what our students have accomplished this far and look forward to seeing how they will continue to grow and develop to become global citizens who seek to effect positive change around the world!
It definitely thrilled me! Attending at the International Future Business Leader Summit (MicroBiz) in Shanghai, I changed my thoughts about Chinese education. The education system of China is gradually changing from mere college entrance exam preparation to a holistic character-building style. More and more Chinese students and their parents realize the limitations that the current education system has. Also, the Chinese Education Bureau consistently emphasizes creating various activities and programs to overcome the current difficulties of only one standard Chinese College Entrance Examination for every student.
About 1200 young students from well known secondary schools all over China, including foreign students who study in China, gathered together in Shanghai on February 1~6, 2017 for the 12th MicroBiz Competition. MicroBiz provides students a program that prepares them for the business world. At the competition, 6 or 8 students become a team to build a company, and divide the roles of CEO, Product Design team, Investment team, and Marketing team. 186 companies competed in a mock business environment for five fiscal year segments.
The company “T150 – TGT” (ToGeTher, TarGeT, The Great Thing), was established by Harbin Wanbang School students. Siwon Song served as the CEO, Jiyoon Kang and Beomhyeok Lee severed as product designer, Ha Yeon Choi, Youli Jang and Heejun Yang served on the Marketing team, Hyunjeong Jun and Yuhong Chen served as the Investment Managers. Proudly enough, Beomhyeok Lee was selected as a keynote speaker for the Summit and he gave a speech in English at the opening ceremony. Our team was competing with 46 companies in the English speaking division. Our students’ team received the highest Angel Investment Grant at the beginning of the competition, but unfortunately, experienced company bankruptcy because of miscommunications. They analyzed the problems and overcame them together with a new strategy, and finally ran the company satisfactorily. Our team won the Best Dealer Company, the Best Product Design, the Best Investment Manager of The Year, Outstanding CEO awards, and Best Students in the Future MBA program.
The experience at MicroBiz was more than getting awards or a certificates of achievement. It challenged our students to see what they could achieve through their hard work. I was happy to see from our students’ reflection, that they experienced not just a competition, but they learned how to build relationships and teamwork, applying what they learned with sparkling ideas, making a vision and its strategy. In addition, I could see that our students effectively learned skills of communication, discussion, debate, negotiation, and management, with passion and eventually challenged themselves to their limit.
The end of the fall semester is probably the busiest time of year here at Wanbang. Students in the choirs, drama club and art team have just wrapped up another successful Winter Song Festival and performance of our first original play, "The Christmas Blessings." Seniors are polishing off those last essays for colleges with January 1 due dates and are starting to get excited about the colleges they have already been accepted to. Sophomores and Juniors are making plans for taking SATs and TOEFLs during the upcoming break. And the onset of winter colds and flus seems to be perfectly timed for this most stressful time.
During this wonderful, hectic time, let's remember to be thankful, even for the chaos. The work that everyone did preparing for the Winter Festival made the show a beautiful experience for the student body. Each essay written, helps us learn a little more about our self. Preparing for tests helps us learn in different ways. And even sickness can teach us how to rely on others.
The semester break will soon be here. Take time to rest, but let's also fill that time with exciting new experiences outside of school.
We at Wanbang School would like to wish all of our students and their families a very happy holiday season and a busy, chaotic and rewarding 2017!
Yesterday, I had a chance to listen to a cello concert, which was my first time to go to a concert. The cellist name is Yibing Zhu, one member of the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra. It was a really amazing experience for me to feel the life of music during his performance. Every note and word he said became the light for me. His performance is a lesson more than a concert.
After Zhu’s performance, most audiences could not help clapping for him. However, Zhu was angry about that and taught the audience how to appreciate the music. He said,
“Sound is like light. Even though some light is invisible for us, it still exists. We should feel every light around us. And my teacher taught me that the music which is cut off is not good music, while the music which disappears is a good music."
I think his words not only can describe music, but also my life. This reminds me of the time when I get angry. In the past, I would think about all the negative things around me when I was sad and ignored all the love I have ever received. But now I know, even though the love is invisible at that time, the love is just like the light and it exists around me and if I am willing to feel it, the love becomes visible. His words woke me and taught me how to control my mood more wisely. Only I feel the invisible light is not enough, I have to spread this invisible light to the people around me just like Zhu did in the concert.
The another sentence Zhu said in the concert that is memorable is:
“In China, there are many kids who can play instruments with high skill, but they fail in playing in ensembles. They don’t know how to cooperate with each other, which is not enough. And it also the reason why there are few orchestras in China.”
As a Chinese student, I always thought I should be the student whose study is good and everyone’s goal is similar to each other. We are taught in the same way to solve problems in the same way. It is good that students could be skilled but most of them do not know how to cooperate with each other. Cooperating is more important than individual working. I am not saying that individual working is bad. Just like the solo instrument performance is good. But the instrumental ensemble not only shows the skill of the performers, but also their harmony, which is the most outstanding character of ensembles. Consequently, I should pay more attention to do what I really like and learn how to harmonize in a group because I am living in a community. Sometimes, tolerating is more important than showing off in communities because personal interests should be less than team interests.
I hope I can see the invisible light when I am tempted by personal interests. I hope I can see the invisible light when I have a fluctuant mood. I hope I can convey the invisible light to others. I hope no matter where I am, there is a light within me.
Many people think that they are ready for college but once they enter college they realize that college life isn’t as simple as they thought and things don’t turn out the way they had expected. Why do some kids seem better prepared and know how to make the most of their time in college while others don’t have the slightest of clue? Richard J. Light, in his book Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds, talks about how he spent ten years interviewing Harvard seniors to understand the difference between how college can be an academically and personally successful time for some students but not others. His research and interviews with students of the highest calibre gives it an added boost to both future and current college students who want to make the four years of college a special and meaningful time instead of just fulfilling the graduation requirements.
Two important things that I have learned and are crucial to me as a future undergraduate student were the importance of collaboration and interaction with students of different backgrounds. He talks about how students who tend to fare well in their studies and learn more during their time in college were students who collaborated when they were faced with challenging or difficult tasks or homework. Light talks about how collaborating is one of the most effective and common ways in which a student can lessen his heavy workload and reduce stress. This skill of collaborating with other students when faced with certain difficulties and not trying to be independent at all times is one important skill that we as students should have. Another great skill that we can instill is interacting and spending more time with students of diverse backgrounds. Light mentions that usually the first year students will tend to share rooms with students of the same race or nationality because they seem to share something in common. However, he quickly found out that nearly 8 out of 10 students in the freshman year opted to share rooms with students of a different nationality. This is normal Harvard where six students all of different nationalities and race share a room for the semester. This allows the students to be more globally aware and learn many new things that cannot be taught in the classroom.
Light’s book Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds allows students to see a deeper insight to education and college life. College life is not primarily on education itself but a significant amount of academic learning that usually happens outside of class through extracurricular activities or dorm life. The book has over ninety students who willingly participated in the making of this book so that students can get a grasp of what a real college life is. Light uses personal anecdotes and real-life examples to build his credibility. His use of difficult language might give students a scare when reading this book. However, there are some parts of his book where he uses colloquial language to assert his point and makes it less vague and educational.
I firmly enjoyed the book and learned how I could be a better prepared high school senior entering college. I would definitely recommend this book to high school students or even parents who are deeply concerned or worried about college life. This book can be the guiding light to their worries and concerns.
Aim higher than the target. That was what I have learned and experienced throughout the competition. The story starts from when I first decided to write a speech and participate in the competition. Several months before the Microbiz, we had a chance to learn more details about the Microbiz competition. I found out that this competition was only talking about success. Challenge, challenge, and achieve success. That was what they were all talking about. That moment, I got a strong feeling that whatever I do in the competition, I had to give them a message, telling that ‘success is not a final destination, it is only a step during our lives’. Personally, I am a person who really doesn’t like to speak in front of many people; however, in this time, something made me write down the speech at the opening ceremony in the competition. Surprisingly, I was selected for the opening speech in Microbiz competition. I didn’t miss the target.
Ha Yeon Choi
This was my first time to learn and experience something related to business. I never have thought to be a business woman, but I thought this contest as a new challenge and new chance for me to learn many things. And I really did learn a lot of things. Since it was a business contest, it was a great chance learn about business and economic knowledge, but through the contest and while doing the trial company, I learned things that are not only needed business, but also in real life.
I learnt that it takes more than one person and one company to successfully run a business. I believe that this lesson can be implied to everything that we partake in our lives. One has to have good relationship to be successful and succeed in life. Another important aspect that I learned was to quickly adapt to the different surroundings around me, and that there is no end to preparation. We never know what may happen and what the outcome will be, so we have to be ready to make new plans and start from scratch if needed. I truly believe that every one of us who participated had an enjoyable experience but we also learnt many important life skills that could help us in our daily lives and as successful people in the near future.
On the first day of Microbiz, all of the participants gathered in a hotel auditorium. One person who graduated from Harvard gave students a speech, and that was a chance which made me think deeply. The most impressive point in his speech was the personal meaning of success. He asked us “What do you think success is?” After I heard that question, I could not think of the answer right away, because I hadn’t thought about it before. That night, after my team meeting, I came back to my dorm and thought about the answer to his question. I asked myself a question, ‘In my future, what circumstance would I need to say to myself that I am success?’ And I finally had an answer, “if I help other people.” More specifically, I thought helping others, donating, giving people value, making people happy are all included in the good effect. So I concluded that “giving good effects to people” is the meaning of success. I was really thankful for him to make me think of what success is.
The kids I met at the business competition in Shanghai were a breath-taking variety. Among the kids I met in Shanghai were those who were freedom-loving, ideologically awake, fierce, passionate, extremely competitive, beautiful, somewhat intimidating, well-mannered, intelligent and calculating, warm and soft-hearted, and friendly. Moreover, not all of the kids there were from Shanghai; a significant proportion of the competition was from all over China. I was thrilled to have met such people who had the capacity to frighten me. I soon made the acquaintance of quite a few of them, some of those acquaintances being students at the Shanghai American School (SAS). I also made the acquaintance of one of the visitors at the competition, who works in the finance field for the expanding IT and tech industry in China. I experienced much excitement after realizing that winning the competition would turn out to be much more difficult than I had expected, that I would no longer be at the top so easily, that there were kids who were much more passionate and well-prepared than I. I was very much humbled and enamored by this new generation, these future leaders of an era in which China will play an active part as one of the major leaders.
My experience in Shanghai allowed me to break out of my outdated perspectives and focus on the future. The future looks bright for China. I am in love with this country of the future, China, and I am in love with the amazing city that awakened me, Shanghai. I dream of making a world where Korea, America, and China can come together in cooperation and unity.
During the Winter Intensive Course, the 11th grade took part in a Creative Writing class. They read the poem, Do You Love Me? by Robert Wrigley about a girl asking a dog to say he loves her.
The students wrote response poetry from the dog’s point of view:
I love you
and I would love
to tell you so
would you please
not hiss like that
into my ears?
Even if I can’t
tell you how much I love you
I already know that
you know what I think
and you’re doing so
just to tell me how much you love me
Ji Yoon Kang
I’m telling you, you silly child
I’m telling you every moment
that I love you.
One bark means “I”
turning twice to the left means “love”
jumping on your laps means “you”
Oh, I almost forgot,
licking your hands also means “love”
wiggling my tail means “love,” too
So, do you understand now?
Actually, I have no idea what she’s talking about
She raised me, gave me food every moment I was in hunger,
and gave me water every moment I was in thirst,
and brought me to the picnic today to refresh myself.
I know we have some kind of bond
that connects us together,
but I’m a dog and she’s a human.
I eat bones while she eats bread and milk,
I bark while she speaks language.
I have no idea what she’s doing now
I’m always next to you,
I always care for you,
and I always love you
but you never know.
I’m really sad,
but I won’t show you my sorrow.
I always want to give you happiness.
I don’t want to hurt you.
And I love you.
Ha Yeon Choi
She’s twelve and she’s asking me
who thinks, who feels, but who can’t speak.
“Do you love me?” she whispers to me.
“I do! I do love you!”
But the words just echo in my head
just echo in my head.
If I weren’t a dog, I would definitely have
told her how much I love her.
But, I’m a dog.
A dog who thinks, who feels, but who
Hi, Lynn! How are you spending your 10th grade year? You might have started thinking about your colleges, tests, and future plans. I can imagine you feeling vague and unsure about your remaining two-and-a-half high school years. I understand this process. It is confusing and nervous, and it sometimes makes your mind go white. But, today the reason why I am writing this letter to you is not to reassure you, nor to guide you to soar for the top colleges. I am writing this letter to you only as a senior who walked on the way that you will also take in upcoming years just a little bit earlier.
I would like to say just one thing: don’t think that the college is the final destination of your life. Yes, you will say that you know all of this and you have already heard this over and over again in Wanbang. However, I would suggest that you think once more with more sincerity. When you actually face the college application process, you will notice how you have become so obsessed about the college that you are going to attend. I was also the same. I thought I was not the kind of person who gets affected by rankings and fame of the colleges, but it was not that I wasn’t; I was just not admitting the fact that I was valuing the same things that everyone else values.
Just for a moment, forget about everything in your mind about college. Rankings. Beautiful campus. Reading books on the grassy field. Erase those fantasies and think what you truly expect from college life. And I am sure your answer will be unique, will be different from all the others. I want you to think of the college as a small step you take in your longer life. When you start to feel like the college is everything in your life, then you lose so many valuable things. Friendships. Family. Playing piano and singing. The dream that once made you excited. All of these that you wouldn’t want to lose from your precious life.
You might ask me, “Do you regret that you did not know this earlier?” I would say, “No, I don’t regret at all.” I am thankful that I realized the purpose of going to college before the application process ended. I think this was the right timing to truly understand this lesson wholeheartedly. Then, why I am I writing this letter to you? I know that you will go return to your original thoughts thinking about the rankings, fame and college fantasies even after reading this letter. After few months and when you become a junior, you will totally forget that this letter even existed. However, I am still writing this letter to you because I want you to have confidence in your change in thoughts when the time comes: the time when you start to doubt your purpose of going to college.
When that time comes, do not hesitate. And I hope this letter can give you confidence when everyone tells you that you are looking at a college in a wrong way.
Enjoy every day with a broader purpose since that is what will determine your life at the end.