Students in-class discussion
A multicultural international school known to have students from all over the world, UWC Changshu UWC is a bit different this year — with the COVID-19 pandemic, our overseas students have been unable to make it back to school, and new international students couldn’t join us on the CSC campus either. Even though this situation is not ideal, as UWC students, we recognize that diversity goes beyond cultural or ethnic diversity. Instead, diversity of thought in the campus is a key component in what makes UWC Changshu China so special.
At UWC Changshu China, diversity of thought can be seen from many different occasions and in every place on campus. From the school’s huge variety of clubs or as we like to call them “Zhi Xing”, one can see the diversity of interests and hobbies that this unique student body has. From Frisbee, Kayaking to the Gardening Bhumi to Dragon Dance, UWC Changshu China echoes the values of freedom and creativity. With over ninety student-led Zhi Xing, it is almost hard not to find your own pack!
Frisbee Zhi Xing match
With over 400 students, each student has their own unique background and upbringing that further contributes to the diversity of thought. Though the student body this year is mostly Chinese, they come from over 28 provinces all over China, many of whom were previously in public schools, international schools, schools for kids of migrant workers, and overseas boarding schools. Unique thoughts are celebrated in this community that brings together so many different people from different backgrounds. UWC’s mission of bringing “international and intercultural understanding” is still held close to our hearts.
“The way I see it, diversity of thought is the different approaches and perspectives taken by people on the same statement or idea,” Nalanfu, an on-campus DP2 student said. “In the classroom, personal engagement is a great opportunity to discover diversity of thought. When engaging in a conversation on a certain global issue, we are able to see the opinions of different people based on their prior experiences.” On a humorous note, he also adds, “it is also shown when dealing with various personal problems typical of a boarding school experience, such as roommate disagreements, and also in some major problems like housing plans for those that do not go home during school holiday breaks. This is when the different perspectives and the diversity of one’s thoughts truly shine on campus.”
TOK Knowledge Storm，students expressing views from different perspectives on various topics at the bi-weekly Assembly
Students engage in experiential learning in many of their classes, which is the process of learning through experience and peer-to-peer discussions. Instead of sticking to a lecture-based teaching approach, UWC Changshu China emphasizes on the “learning by doing” method. As part of the IBDP curriculum, all subjects have a TOK (Theory of Knowledge) component where students apply their newly found knowledge in a particular subject to real-world scenarios. In science, students brainstorm the purpose of scientific knowledge, asking questions like “what makes science scientific?” and sharing their perspectives in class. Similarly, in humanities classes, students discuss the effects that humanities have in society, often engaging in activities such as coming up with government policies for a particular social issue. The differences in ideas explode like rapid fireworks in classrooms, allowing students to take in multiple perspectives from others to form a unique one of their own.
Outside the classroom, diversity of thought can be seen from aspects ranging to boarding life to day-to-day activities, not including the myriad Zhi Xing! Simply taking a stroll on campus alone will open your eyes to a unique community: students dressed in all sorts of different fashion and styles to express their creativity and self-identity. “I used to get judged for my choice in fashion a lot.” Joanna, a DP1 student said. “Elders would often look at me in my tank-top with critical views and assume my character from my choice of clothing. At UWC Changshu China, I feel complete freedom to wear whatever I want without being judged and express myself in fashion. This is a good representation of the diversity of thought that is prevalent on campus. I feel like students are generally able to do or wear whatever they want to here so long Code of Conduct is abided by!” It is important, however, to note one piece of fashion that is common between everyone: slides and flip-flops—a must-have item for rushing to your late class when you overslept that morning.
Thanks to such relaxed atmosphere, students become more eager and courageous to express themselves. We witness a lot of conflicts of views and arguments which lead to more in-depth thinking and ideas to seek better solutions to problems. Such diversity has gone beyond the diversity one can see on the surface.
Diversity is not just for skin colour; there are many types of diversity, including diversity of thought, should be equally recognized and celebrated. In a community of so many different people with different backgrounds, diversity of thought can be seen from every aspect everywhere on campus. It is exactly this prominence of diversity of thought that enriches and impacts not only our academics and our dreams, but also our values that we carry forward with us in the future.
Photo：Christopher Shen, DP1