Workshop: Integration & Transcendence of International Education

As a key member of the Association of Chinese and Mongolian IB schools (ACMIBS), UWC Changshu China led a workshop on the theme of “Integrating International Education in a Local Education Context and Beyond IB Years” on April 12th and 13th. More than 100 IB educators from China and overseas participated in the workshop.

27 April 2019

The two day workshop started with the observation of a class on Peace and Conflict – a core course of UWC Changshu China’s Foundation Programme (FP) specifically designed to support the transition of Grade 10 students, both academically and personally, to the IB years. Through a series of topics that address the importance of peace and conflict resolution and the role of civil society in addressing and preventing conflict, students acquire the knowledge and disposition to create innovative solutions for promoting peace across the world, honoring human rights and respect for diversity. Participants also observed another FP core course – Critical Thinking. Students were divided into groups of seven to debate topics such as “Can government intervention correct a market failure?”, “Is GDP growth always a good thing?”, “Will all market economies eventually destroy themselves?” etc. Participants were deeply moved by the students’ performance. In the same morning, participants also observed DP classes such as English B, Chinese Ab initio, Economics, Chinese A Literature and Language.   


In the afternoon, Ms. Shirla Sum, Director of the Design and Innovation Center of Yushan Academy, Mr. Arunananda Mukherjee, Deputy Dean of Studies and IBDP Coordinator, and Mr. Jacky Peng, HOD Chinese Department, shared how UWC Changshu designs, develops and teaches FP course, DP course and Chinese courses respectively. The participants had the opportunity to interact with these three senior faculty according to the professional development needs of their own schools and themselves. Our faculty also learned from participants’ experience and feedback.


Participants were also actively engaged in our students’ life outside of class. Participants were invited to experience students' Zhi Xing activities. On the grass circle, participants and students practiced dragon dance and lion dance. In the dancing studio, participants and students tried Afrobeat dances together. In the black box, participants watched the rehearsal of the Chinese drama “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land”. On Kuncheng Lake, participants sailed with UWC teachers and students, or rowed on kayaks on the lake. Everyone spent a very pleasant time filled with sunshine, laughter and sweat.

  • Experiencing water sports
  • Experiencing dragon and lion dance

On April 12, participants enjoyed the “One World Concert”, an annual performance of students and teachers at UWC Changshu China and many other UWCs to celebrate cultural diversity. The Concert was a collaborative effort that included traditional Maori haka dance, Indian folk dance, Chinese folk music performance, and vibrant African dance as well as humorous renditions of Swan Lake. Participants were impressed by UWC’s encouragement and protection of national culture and national identity. 

  • "One World Concert"

It was a wonderful opportunity for teachers and students of UWC Changshu to share some of what they learn and how they grow from each day to fellow educators - from rigorous academic activities to Zhi Xing activities, to the celebration of diversity.  It was also an amazing opportunity for our staff and students to learn from participants their experience.

  • Mark Wang, Chair of the Board, made the opening remarks

During the workshop on April 13, Mr. Mark Wang, Founder and Chairman of the Board of UWC Changshu China, and Vice Chairman of ACMIBS, made the opening remarks. He shared the development trend of IB programmes in the Asia Pacific region, resulting in great demand for experienced and dedicated teachers. He also introduced the services and support provided by ACMIBS for IB schools in Greater China and Mongolia. Pelham Lindfield Roberts, Principal of UWC Changshu China, also shared ideas and thinking around education in the world and how they are relevant to UWC. He talked about the relationship between UWC education and the learner profile of IB courses, as well as the needs of universities and the entire world. He encouraged educators to think out of the box as if there is no box.

  • Principal Pelham (second from right) talking with the participants

Two parallel themes were also addressed, one of which was on “Design and Innovation of Chinese Curriculum and Chinese Programmes” which was  facilitated by Ms. Ping Li, Vice Principal, Chinese programmes. She shared with participants how UWC Changshu China introduce and utilize local resources. Vice Principal Li designed a variety of Chinese cultural activities, allowing both Chinese and foreign students to profoundly and extensively experience Chinese culture. At the same time, UWC Changshu China also gives back to the local community by contributing to the internationalization and international cultural exchanges in Changshu and Suzhou. The other workshop on “CAS in UWC Changshu China” was facilitated by Mr. Simon Ma, Dean of Student Life, and Ms. Tingting Feng, Deputy Dean of Student Life (Experiential Learning). They shared thoughts on UWC Changshu China’s CAS activities that reflect the three key themes of the school – Chinese language and culture, youth leadership, environmental activism. The variety of the activities initiated by the school and the students, such as project week, campus activities, outdoor challenges, etc., have already exceeded the requirements of CAS in the DP curriculum. It gives students opportunities to put what they learn into practice, and learn by doing.

  • Ms. Ping Li, Vice Principal, introduced the Chinese programmes
  • Ms. Tingting Feng introduced "CAS in UWC Changshu China"

Two other parallel workshops were held in the afternoon. Mr. Kokming Lee, Dean of Studies, facilitated a workshop on the theme of "Being a Change-maker”. Mr. Lee summarized his deep understanding of UWC mission and values from his perspective as an alum and a faculty member of four UWCs. Through an interactive workshop, he inspired participants to take action in their daily lives and think of ways to make positive changes. Another workshop on “Learning in a Residential Context” was facilitated by Mr. Simon Ma, Dean of Student Life, and Ms. Shusmita Malla, Deputy Dean of Student Life (Community Living). They spoke about residential living at UWC and ways to make it work in this international setting.  They also addressed our newly-developed Life Skill curriculum. The curriculum has five themes - self and society, interpersonal relationships, sex and sexuality, healthy lifestyle and personal growth and psychological skills. It helps students build positive self-cognition and social capability, alongside UWC values.

  • Group discussion during a workshop

The last session of the workshop, “Educational Design and Innovation for the future”, was hosted by Ms. Shirla Sum. She introduced the exploration and practice of UWC Changshu China in design thinking and innovation. She also encouraged the participants to reflect on the two-day activities to come up with an interesting discovery, ask a burning question, and design an action item that could be brought back to their work. 

  • Ms. Shirla Sum hosted the reflection session