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!
This August, teachers Sunshine Choe, Wei Yue, Aihua Li and Haili Cui attended the 2016 AP Summer Institute in Dalian, China. Wanbang is committed to providing continuing education for its teachers and counselors; attending the annual training provided by the CollegeBoard helps to achieve that mission.
At the Summer Institute, the teachers were able to learn from experienced AP consultants, who are experts in their fields, from American high schools and colleges. They also met with and discussed curriculum with teachers and counselors from other top private and public schools across China.
The Wanbang School Hike is one of the biggest annual events since the school was established. It is a special time for the students, where they can learn about the world by entering into nature. We usually leave the school early in the morning, walking past the roads and buildings that make up our neighborhood and go all the way to the countryside. Along unpaved roads, students can see different vegetable and animal farms and breathe the open air. After a lunch break, we head back to the school, arriving in the late afternoon.
This year’s hike covered about 20km, taking 6 hours. It not only strengthened students’ bodies but also cultivated teamwork and cooperation. There is an African proverb that says, “If you want go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In the first 2 hours, everybody was able to sing and enjoy the views. However, from mid-day, due to the hot weather and the long walk, exhaustion, cramping, and blisters began to wear down on the students and some wanted to give up. But they continued together as one group; no one was to be left behind. At this moment, students were encouraging each other, carrying bags for one another, and sharing their precious water together. This cooperative mentality gave each of them the support to make it to the end.
The large school flag leads the way for the hike. The school flag stands as a beacon, much like our goals in life. When you feel lost, find the “flag” in your life, and follow it. When you want to give up, look around, there are so many people are willing to help you and support you. “If you want to go far, go together.”
June is upon us, signaling the nearing of the school year's end. And as the end of another school year approaches, we prepare to say goodbye to another class of seniors.
On Sunday, May 29, we hosted our (now) annual Junior-Senior "Banquet" at our home. I call it a "banquet" because we want the event to be special and memorable, but instead of a grand, formal banquet hall, our humble home is the venue for this event. For the second year, the junior class came together to prepare and serve a meal for the seniors as a show of appreciation for all they have done as older "brothers and sisters."
The junior class students--Aron, Daniel, Gina, Lily, Lois, Lynn, Muse, and Siwon--gave up their afternoon outing with friends to shop, clean, and prepare a dinner of chicken salad, pineapple fried rice, baked pasta, and a fruit parfait for dessert. For some, the experience of shopping for groceries and preparing a meal was a new experience. With some guidance and a lot of hard work, the food all turned out to be wonderfully delicious.
As stomachs were filled, each junior shared words of thanks or encouragement for our seniors. The seniors were encouraged to approach the next chapter of their life with boldness and an expectation to encounter many new and wonderful things, even though it will be scary and full of many challenges. They were reminded that they will always have a family of brothers and sisters here in Harbin waiting to hear from them and to help them any time they feel lonely or lost in their new worlds.
The seniors also shared advice with the juniors as they prepared to take their place. They would now be the leaders within SAP and need to show leadership through example and service. The senior year is full of many new challenges but they encouraged the juniors to face them knowing that everything they've done in SAP has set a good foundation and framework and now they are to complete this work.
As a teacher and advisor, my heart was warmed by the outpouring of love and encouragement for all who was there. To watch the seniors as they grew and matured, I am convinced that they are now ready tackle this next step of their life journey. For the juniors, I look forward to seeing their continued growth as they learn to become leaders--not by might or power, but through service and love.
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.
Sometimes I wonder
if coins could talk would they speak
of unspeakable things like spit gutters and skittering rats
and sweaty subway bottoms?
Or would they talk about nifty little piggy banks
in families with Coast-to-Coast collections
and being good luck on a sticky asphalt day and
bringing gumball delights for kids with no dads?
The True Meaning of Thanksgiving
I have not much to give you
I have not much to spare
But this little coin that I have
I put it in your hat
Not much, not plenty
But just enough
For a loaf of bread
That you may get for your family
To enjoy and to share
Though I have not much to give you
I have not much to spare
I give you this
My last coin
To put it in your hat
Repayment, you say?
A smile is enough
The thought of sharing with you
Has repaid it all
I see you rushing
To the nearest store
And come out pink-faced
Astonish is the word
In your hands is not just one loaf
But a bag full of them
You look back once more
No words come out your mouth
No words are enough to say
You run back to your shivering family
And carefully take a piece of steaming bread
To put it in the mouth of your little one
Who munches it with all he can
You take another one and pass them on to the rest
When you find that there is one left
You stand up and stride over
It is not much, It is not plenty
But it is enough
For your cold hands
To warm and to taste
What your kindness has started
What you have proved right
That Thanksgiving is here
Right in our hearts