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How can there be peace without people understanding each other, and how can this be if they don’t know each other?

Lester B.Pearson

Early supporter of Pearson College, former Prime Minister of Canada, and Nobel Peace Laureate

The striking feature of the UWC is that they embrace the entire world. They are unique and they are conscious of their responsibilities.

Nelson Mandela

Late Honorary President of UWC, Former President of South Africa

We have realized our dream to create a dream school for you. Please go out and realize your dream and other’s dreams.

Wesley Chiu,

Member of UWC National Committee of China, board member of UWC Changshu China

The sense of idealism and a purposeful life really makes the UWC experience unique and its impact life-long.

Wang Yi

Co-Founder, Vice Chairman of Board and Executive Director of Harvard Centre Shanghai. Pearson 89-91

UWC was one of the ten members of the international schools association that created the International Baccalaureate Organization in Geneva in 1963 … today, they are taken in over 4,000 schools worldwide and have become the gold standard for university entrance.

Sir John Daniel

Chair of UWC International Board and International Council 

I regard it as the foremost task of education to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial and above all, compassion.

Kurt Hahn

German Educator, Founder of United World Colleges

China Gives Me the Opportunity to Learn and Explore My Interests

Issue date:2023-03-30


Recently, China Daily published an article entitled "Conditions Ripe for International Students to Return to China". With the adjustment of China's entry policy for foreigners after the epidemic, UWC Changshu China will welcome international students on campus in the near future.

In this issue, Bella, who is one of the international students   of the founding class of UWC Changshu China (2015-17), now a student at Peking University's Yenching Academy, shared her experience in China.  She believes that the education she received in China is one of the most precious gifts in her life. She hopes that more international students can come to China to study and experience the beauty of Chinese language, culture, and people.  

Gratitude —— is my feeling towards the two years I spent at UWC Changshu China. There’s a lot to share, but I will focus on three main points: intercultural dialogues, celebration of Chinese culture and finding one’s interest.


Graduation Ceremony at UWC Changshu China

The beauty of diversity that you can find on a UWC campus is a true gift and privilege, because you not only get to learn about new cultures, but become aware of issues you never thought about. Through conversations and sharing, some sort of closeness is created and you allow yourself to be vulnerable to see your own culture from a different perspective, as well as ask questions and try to understand someone else’s culture. You turn off biases and turn on compassion. 

Communication is so powerful and can erase so many misconceptions. We discussed issues that were taboo, we felt uncomfortable, we laughed, we opened up, which then helped understand each other much better. Moreover, being challenged with questions about my own country and hearing what others have to say made me aware of things I have not noticed before, so when I returned home, I felt as if I had extra glasses on that showed me my country from a new perspective.


Experiencing Chinese culture

As for the celebration of Chinese culture, the classes, the exposure to local people, the different events and festivals, food and host families, expanded my knowledge of China immensely. Prior to UWC I had little interaction with Chinese culture and had a very vague idea of what comes with this country, so UWC Changshu China was the first piece of the big puzzle that I am still assembling. 

I enjoyed the challenge of first mandarin classes, struggling to eat with 筷子, losing patience while doing calligraphy and laughing when practicing the dragon dance. I also got to spend Chinese holidays with my friends at their home surrounded by hospitality and care. I enjoyed making dumplings, saying 干杯 and hearing fireworks almost every day. Chinese people taught me the value of family, hard-work and being active, and China became a home away from home.


Performing lion dance at CCE

As well as the place where I explored my interests freely. All the amazing projects and Zhi Xing helped me grow my interest in education. UWC showed me the importance of hands-on activities, group reflections and having passionate educators. Additionally, the idea of “giving back to the community” was something I began to cherish and value after UWC. The experience I had helping out at a local autistic center, as well as other activities with kids, grew my interest in learning more about it and possibly turning it into my future career. Doing something for others, helping and seeing them improve felt rewarding and meaningful.


Painting with kids at local autistic center

Upon graduation from UWC, I was a counselor at the IDEAS summer camp in Beijing. This was a decision to expand on my interests in education. I thought the camp would be a great opportunity to see if working with children is something I am actually passionate about – a chance to test the interest developed at UWC. I enjoyed coordinating and leading daily activities, being surrounded by kids, as well as the opportunity to design my own activities. However, the language barrier was frustrating. I wanted to communicate and engage in conversations, but couldn’t because of my low language ability. Language is a powerful tool to not only communicate with someone, but better understand where they are coming from. I made a promise that next time I come back to IDEAS I will be able to communicate in Chinese.


At IDEAS camp

Not all first years come into university clearly knowing what to major in, I was one of them. Coming to Smith College my head was filled with all sorts of options: psychology, anthropology, political science, languages, history, arts. I did not know Education and Child Study was an actual major until I saw it under course selection. Remembering the UWC value “Personal challenge”, I immersed myself in a pool of diverse courses to find a suitable major. Some guidance was also needed, which is why I often chatted with my academic advisor, who persuaded me to take her Chinese literature course. As someone who ran away from English Literature class back in UWC, I was skeptical about her offer, yet Wu laoshi managed to convince me to take her “Travel Literature” course. That semester became a turning point towards a combination of two majors that I never thought of declaring: Chinese Language and Literature, Education and Child Study. Wu laoshi’s literature course showed me a new side of literature and made me discover how interesting, diverse and beautiful Chinese literature is. 


At Smith College

The way we discussed those books and connected them to today’s issues made the class so vibrant and interesting. Wu laoshi’s teaching strategies and care for students were inspiring. In my education courses, I enjoyed the opportunity we were given to do classroom observations, visit local schools, design curriculums and teach our own classes. While attending the classes for these two majors I found harmony – one was showing me an area that is so meaningful that I wished to have the ability to tell about it to more people, while the other one was providing me with necessary tools and skills to accomplish that goal. As I was absorbing and observing the methods, I imagined my own approach to education (multicultural, community centered, empathetic, interdisciplinary, flexible). Teachers are not encyclopedias, they should embrace the curiosity of the children, allow themselves to be vulnerable, and set a learning space where everyone grows at their own pace. One of my favorite education books, Black Ants and Buddhists by Mary Cowhey, highlights “critical thinking and dialogue go hand in hand”. These were the accumulating thoughts as I was reflecting on my UWC academic experience and learning at Smith.

While in college, we should definitely take the most of what it has to offer, join organizations/clubs, attend talks/panels, join projects, travel, do internships, and study abroad. During my junior year I applied for a Chinese language immersion program in Beijing. After three months my level improved tremendously, which allowed me to have conversations with local people, understand Chinese culture better, and even enjoy Peking Opera. Language is the key to the country’s heart. Before my curiosity in China was superficial, but once I was able to engage in conversations, go around and blend with the mundane, non-touristy part of China, I realized how much more there is to explore. 


At Minzu University Of China

I also kept my promise of coming back to IDEAS camp and talking to the children there in Chinese. Seeing their enthusiastic faces and amazement "wow this teacher can speak Chinese" (哇 这个老师会说中文) made me feel proud. Knowing the language and experience living in China was also helpful during my internship with an e-learning company in Boston. Where I designed and taught classes for children in China. Because of those skills my interaction with the students was much more smooth than for co-workers who never interacted with Chinese kids. As a result I decided to take the initiative to train the newcomers on these cultural differences and how to approach Chinese children in class, so that the lessons are productive and enjoyable.


Teaching at IDEAS Camp

As my senior year approached, reflecting on my interests, experiences and goals, I wondered what the next step should be. But just like everything that happened in my life so far, I went with the flow. Considering my interest in China, while browsing fellowship opportunities, I came across Yenching Academy. It took one glimpse over their website to feel that I belong to that place. It reminded me of UWC – interdisciplinary, with lots of projects and activities, students coming from around the world, learning about and exploring China. That feeling inside of me, the pumping heart, the shiny eyes and imagining myself at Yenching, I knew that feeling so well, it was the same feeling when I wanted to apply to UWC, so I knew, nothing would change my mind. Fellowships are competitive, with lots of requirements and preparation. Here’s where I like to rely on one of my favorite quotes: “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it" (Paolo Coelho).


At Yenching Academy

China was the place that provided me the education and inspired my interest in education. It embraced me as who I am, gave me an opportunity to learn and explore my passions, taught me to challenge myself and be active, as well as provided me with resources to become a better version of myself and inspired the need to do something meaningful for others. As I complete my studies at Yenching, I hope to bring improvements to the education sector, and inspire our youth, just like I was inspired while studying and living in China.

As a closing, I would like to say that each person has their personal UWC journey which then leads to amazing, intriguing and unpredictable paths. Do not compare yourself to others and focus on your own growth, you’re capable of beautiful things and if you feel like you are not doing something meaningful yet, the time will come for you to flourish. Life is more fun when we make unexpected choices, so choose wisely and have no regrets!

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