Graduation speech - Class of 2019
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.
Newer isn’t always better
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.
Chinese National Arts Festival and Closing Ceremo...
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.
2018 Fall NHSDLC - Harbin Regionals
The 2018 National Highschool Debate League of China’s Harbin Regionals have completed on November 25th. Competing with students who traveled from Beijing, Tianjin, and Dalian, students debated on the topic, “Resolved: In the United States criminal justice system, only people convicted of violent crimes should be sentenced to prison.”
The event marked the third successful event held at our school and showed the continued partnership between NHSDLC and HWS. Hosting the debate allowed our students to easily approach this national competition and take a step in becoming a lifelong learner outside of the classroom as well. Regardless of the results, all participants was able to push themselves to their limits and gain valuable experience.
The 2018 Debate was the third tournament where our students participated in the finals round and the second tournament that our students have won. The strong showing clearly reflecting the quality of students, education and guidance HWS possess.
Congratulations to the 10 high school division teams and the 2 middle school division teams from HWS that qualified for the finals that will be held in Beijing next August!
Chinese Bridge for American Principals by College...
On November 7th, twenty educators, principals, and superintendents from all across the US visited Wanbang with CollegeBoard. Our Sino-American Program was hand-picked by the CollegeBoard due to our long history of offering AP courses and being the leader in international education within the Heilongjiang province.
After showcasing our unique values and direction in educating "Multicultural Global Servant Leaders", the delegates joined our open AP and Pre-AP classrooms, had the opportunity to watch our nationally recognized choir performance and spoke with our students in a small group setting.
The visit showcased the clear integration of Chinese and American curriculum offered in our Sino-American Program and the support CollegeBoard has continued to show Wanbang School as their most experienced school in Harbin to offer AP Courses.
The Direction of Change
Homeostasis is a process by which biological systems attempt to maintain stability in the face of changes. The process is frequently seen in our everyday life; when our body temperature drops, we shiver to warm up, and on the contrary, when our body temperature is too hot, we sweat to cool down. Similarly, we as humans have our own process of homeostasis in life - a tendency of stagnation and propensity of not wanting to accept drastic changes in our ideologies or way of life. However, even with the process of homeostasis in full effect, as people age and deteriorate in health, we are also influenced and changed by our environment over time. These subtle changes are gradual but inevitable as they are driven by our DNA - our ideals, values and core beliefs.
At Wanbang, education is the process of instilling values, and beliefs in all students, thus transforming their DNA and giving direction to their life. Changes on the surface are easy to appreciate even with the naked eye, yet as homeostasis dictates, are bound to return to the status quo. However, by instilling values such as honesty, diligence and love into our students, we make an attempt to transform them from the inside out. These values are repeatedly taught and modeled day after day by the teachers who interact and surround our students 24/7. Though the speed of change is gradual, eventually what seemed at first to be a foreign idea to the students, soon becomes a part of their lives and the transformation that takes place subsequently is genuine and permanent. With their core values shifted and providing the direction to their life, they no longer seek out their comfort zones or live in idleness with excuses. Instead, they seek out knowledge to learn, brave through experiences to grow, and through it all, ultimately transform into an individual of influence.
To borrow a quote from our recent commencement speech,
“The world you now enter is like the ocean. Among the tides and waves of ideas and ideals you will come across, knowing yourself will be your foundation, your ship; the values you cherish and believe will be the compass that will bring meaning and reason to your life’s journey.”
As our next generation of youth prepares to lead the world of tomorrow, and journey out into the ocean, it is time to think about the quality of the compass that we instill upon them.
Congratulations to the Class of 2018
Even starting Sunday, many of you will begin leaving this place you called home for the past few years and enter on to foreign soil into society. I’m sure you have conflicting emotions between the excitement of college with the fear of uncertainty. But I want to affirm to you that wherever you go, you have been trained and prepared for success. During your time here at WB it isn’t just English that you’ve learned but so much more. You take from here your loving hearts that can encompass the weakest in the community, your sense of right and wrong that will be your guide for a lifetime, and your infectious smiles and positivity that will spread across wherever you go. You embody honesty, diligence and love and you can and will become a difference maker in any community you join.
I say this with full confidence because I’ve seen these traits from you this past year. Class, though our time together has been short, we have endured a lot together. Through the ups and downs of personal essays, college applications and the emotional toils of college results together. And do you know what I saw? I saw the strength, the direction and the maturity from you that inspired me and shook me with excitement for what you’ll achieve. With beliefs, and values that is instilled in you, you will become the light in the dark, the compass to the lost and be the person to change our world one small community at a time. You will do this because you are all WB ren, and that is what we do - change and influence the world.
The world you now enter is like the ocean. Among the tides and waves of ideas and ideals you will come across, knowing yourself will be your foundation, your ship; the values you cherish and believe will be the compass that will bring meaning and reason to your life’s journey.
It is now time to set sail as WB rens to go make a difference. But before I share my final farewells, I’d like impart in you a quote.Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” Choose the latter. Be excited, be joyful, live in constant amazement and thankfulness, but above all, remember you are a miracle.
SAP 12 College Acceptance Announcement
The Sino-American Program (SAP) of Harbin Wanbang School is excited to share some exciting news about our college admissions results for the class of 2018. This year, our seniors have been accepted to highly selective colleges and universities, such as Stanford University, Colby College, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Duke Kunshan University, and the University of Hong Kong. The total scholarship amount offered to our students came out to be US$645,600.00.
Many of our senior students have been exceptional, and their abilities can be reflected by their competitive GPAs and the number of AP classes and exams they will have completed by the end of our program (average of 6, not including Dual Credit courses). In addition, their active engagement with extracurricular activities, including our 2016 national award-winning choir team and the nationally recognized TV program filmed and edited by our students, not only contributed to their application but more importantly, played an important factor in helping them develop and mature as an individual.
The Sino-American Program of Harbin Wanbang School has been recognized as the model international program within the Heilongjiang Province in China. We have been helping students achieve their goals of studying abroad in the States, Canada, Europe and Australia through our program that finds a balance between Chinese and American curriculum. Through a variety of blended and in-person classes, including multiple AP courses, we also provide opportunities for students to think critically and expand their intellectual horizon. Though the rigors of the SAP curriculum likely played a factor in our graduates past success with college admissions, including Emory University, Carnegie Mellon University, USC, UCLA, and UNC, it was the teaching outside of the classrooms and individualized guidance that pushed the students to go beyond just academics and develop holistically as a multicultural global servant leader.
Our international class of students, from Australia, USA, Peru, Korea, Turkey and Japan, allow SAP students to shift their perspective to foster a global mindset further and develop a multicultural sensitivity. The results of our program are self-evident from the recognition our students have received from national competitions such as the National High School Debate League China, Harvard Model United Nations and Microbiz International Future Business Leader Summit and acceptances from highly selective colleges.
Welcome to 2018 Spring
Welcome to 2018 Spring Term! After enjoying the Chinese New Year with their family, our students finally returned back to the Wanbang family. We are excited to see everyone back healthy and energized for the new term. We held an orientation to introduce a few changes to the SAP - such as new classes and changed rules. Let's push each other to become better and more unified as a family!
In a society that only pursues success and encourages achievements and competitive edge, the notion of foolishness may seem foreign. Yet, when we consider the opportunity cost - the concession to one’s integrity, the moral corruption, and the individualistic mindset - of those who live solely to become the best, we begin to see the significance of living foolishly.
As a tower built on sand will collapse in time, a life built on compromises to integrity, moral and community is bound to fail at worst, and feel void at best. Alternatively, by doing what is right and not doing what is wrong, by being foolish, we are building character and life’s foundation from the bottoms up. One brick at a time, one tile at a time, the process is prolonged, but the outcome is the formation of character not shaken by whims of society, integrity built on trust over time and moral stability that will be a compass for one’s life. Foolishness is a lifestyle of purposefully and decidedly choosing not to take the short-cut of life.
At Harbin Wanbang School, we train our students to be foolish. Foolish to follow the rules even when nobody is watching. Foolish to listen to the teacher’s request and abide by them even during vacation. Foolish to have the chance to cheat, yet decide not to. Foolish to see and know the short-cuts of life, but choose not to take it.
During this coming 'Journey with King David' (called as 'vacation' in Wanbang School), every student will at last return home. Along with home, comes the call for comfort and stagnation and the whispers of compromise. But it is time to make a decision that regardless of the situation, the circumstances, and external forces, to do what is right, to not do what is wrong. It is time to choose to be foolish.
Welcome to a New Academic Year!
Harbin Wanbang School opened its doors to begin a new school year on Monday, August 28. This coming school year is an exciting one, filled with many new opportunities for our students.
The Sino-American Program continues to grow, both in size and in scope. Including our Pre-SAP program (7th - 9th grade), our total number has grown to 44 students, the largest it has ever been. We expect to graduate our largest number this year as well--11 seniors, each setting their sights all around the globe. As our seniors enter college application season, they are considering top universities in the U.S., Canada, China, Singapore, and Europe.
This semester, we are also excited to host for the first time, a debate tournament. In partnership with the National High School Debate League of China (Click HERE for English site), Wanbang SAP students will receive formal debate training from expert debate trainers and participate in their first regional debate tournament with hopes of qualifying for the national tournament.
Wanbang SAP is also excited to introduce three new teachers to the SAP faculty. Mr. David Nah, Ms. Yully Choi, and Ms. Esther Song bring a variety of backgrounds and expertise from America to Harbin. We are excited to welcome them to an already diverse staff and look forward to the many ways they will continue to enhance the learning and development of our students.
This and much more await our students in the Sino-American Program at Harbin Wanbang School. We look forward to another great year!
Congratulations to the Class of 2017!
The Sino-American Program at Harbin Wanbang School is proud to graduate yet another class of wonderful students. This year, eight students graduate from SAP and head out to university campuses around the world. These students have come from many different backgrounds and situations. They’ve lived in the United States, Canada, Qatar, South Korea, and China. They are going on to pursue fields of study in Medicine, Engineering, International Relations, Business, and more. We are sad to see them leave our family but excited and full of hope as they begin the next steps of their journey. We hope they continue to grow and develop as they live out the core values of Wanbang School—to Be Honest, Be Diligent, Love Others.
Spring in Harbin
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:
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.
Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy (Lunar) New Year!
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!
2017 International Future Business Leader Summit...
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.