Zhi Xing Overview
CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) is a requirement for all students in the IB Diploma programme. Here at UWC Changshu China we take this one step further, providing a hugely diverse range of activities. As a result, our students are often engaged in activities far beyond what is required by the IB. We named our programme Zhi Xing (知行), which means ‘learning by doing’ as well as ‘putting knowledge into action’. This is an apt name for our CAS programme, as the focus of CAS is to allow for education beyond the classroom, through experiential learning and exploration. The Zhi Xing programme allows for students to put their knowledge, skills, and values into practice, contributing to their community, their own learning, and to campus life.
The main pillars upon which we focus at UWC Changshu China are Chinese Language and Culture, Youth Leadership and Environmental Activism. The CAS program is called Zhi Xing at our School which aims to put these values into action by creating many opportunities for students to continue their learning far beyond the classrooms by exploring elements of Chinese Culture, taking initiative in issues that concern them, and caring for both their local environment and that of the larger global community.
Two of the main values of the UWC movement are international and intercultural understanding and celebration of difference. The Zhi Xing Programme enables the exploration of Chinese culture within the School and through interactions with the wider community. Many of our activities, such as Chinese performing arts, calligraphy, or Chinese musical instruments, have a direct focus on Chinese culture, allowing international students to understand Chinese culture holistically. Such activities also provide opportunities for Chinese students to share and further explore their own culture. Other activities, such as volunteering in local homes for the aged, schools and community centers, stretch the boundaries of our students’ education to include local Chinese culture, people and environment.
Student leadership is an incredibly important aspect of experiential learning, and thus students are expected to take ownership of their Zhi Xing programmes. The UWC movement highlights responsibility and integrity, challenge, action and leading by example as some of the core values to which our students should aspire. Many of our Zhi Xing activities have student leaders, who use their knowledge and experience to help their classmates to excel in these activities, acting as positive role models for their peers whilst also challenging themselves. Clubs, which are student run, allow students to take initiative in the community and share their passion with others. In addition, the Zhi Xing department is developing a series of workshops designed to provide students with an opportunity to gain leadership skills such as facilitation, project management, to name a few. These skills can then be put into use in students’ activities as well as the project weeks they will design in their second year.
Sustainability (respect for the environment) is one of the main goals and values of the UWC movement, and thus UWC Changshu China has adopted Environmental Activism as one of its three main pillars. Students are able to participate in activities such as Recycling, Organic farming, and Wetland protection, thus making a positive impact in the community. Students have also taken initiative with projects such as a plastic recycling programme - turning trash into new products, and the “weigh your waste” initiative – raising students’ awareness of the impact their decisions and actions have on their environment.
Project Weeks and Special Events
Project weeks are an invaluable learning opportunity for the students, which allow them to put UWC values into action. During this annual event, students get to explore a remote area of China. Members of the faculty lead DP students to less developed regions of China to participate in a week of public service. Students have the opportunity to help the local community through teaching, outreach and other community oriented activities. These trips also grant students insight into the different levels of economic development in China. Towards the end of their second year, students have the opportunity to lead and organize their own project weeks in groups. This school-sponsored week allows students to take leadership and to learn to work as a team, as well as to explore China while putting some of the skills they have learned in Zhi Xing programme into action.
Zhi Xing Weekly Activities
The Zhi Xing activities are the core of the Zhi Xing programme. They create a space for students to explore skills and passions by putting them into practice, and sharing them with others. At UWC Changshu China, each student is a member of at least three activity groups and one club. We offer a large number of activities, across the categories of Creativity, Action, and Service. Students spend at least one hour per week on each of their activities and clubs.
Creativity activities allow students to express themselves in a variety of outlets. They can learn more about Chinese culture through Chinese musical, visual, and performing arts. They can contribute to their community with activities such as Yearbook, the school newspaper and the school magazine. They can collaborate and entertain their peers in choir, improve troupe and open mic. They can appreciate their diverse multicultural community through Multicultural Dance and International Cooking.
Action activities allow for students to train their bodies as well as their minds. They can take advantage of the Kuncheng Lake through watersports such as; kayaking and dragon boat racing. They can make use of the School’s high quality facilities to both strengthen their bodies and build teamwork with sports such as football, tennis, or climbing. And of course they can further explore Chinese culture through activities like Tai Chi and Dragon Dancing.
Service activities allow students to make a difference on both a local and global scale. They can lend a hand to their local community by getting involved in animal protection, teaching English at primary school, and volunteering at homes for the aged. They can protect the environment, with activities like recycling, organic farming and cleanup crews. They can also help each other and promote understanding of global issues through activities such as Global Issues, SPECTRUM, and Peer Tutoring.
Clubs are student led initiatives, allowing the students to take leadership and pursue their passion. Clubs are formed organically, once the students have selected their Zhi Xing activities.
UWC Changshu China has created a very rigorous lifesaving programme, by both national and international standards. The unique programme is built upon the Lifesaving programme of the Swimming Association of China, with expanded content and an English curriculum. This programme was developed by the school, and our own students will be trained as instructors. There is a Zhi Xing activity which supports this programme, in which students will get trained and practice lifesaving skills, and learn to teach these skills. The goal of this programme is to train as many students as possible to be ready willing and able to save a life.
In conjunction with Zhi Xing programme for our students we offer a number of activities every weekday evening for the children of the faculty and staff, between 1-12 years. These activities vary from swimming classes to storytelling and are run by faculty with the help from students. The aim of this programme is to provide fun learning experiences on campus for these children, and foster a sense of community and family between different members of our community at the college.
UWC Changshu China is pleased to provide First Aid Training to all students in partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA) and International SOS. A number of our faculty are AHA certified first aid instructors. We have also contracted International SOS to act as an emergency response and medical support agency for the school, to assist on campus as well as during project weeks and other school outings.