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.