27 May, 2016
10 : 00
In this graduation series of Student Blogs, we chat to class of 2016 student Wan Teng Lee, about growing up at Yew Chung International School of Beijing, tips for future graduates and her dreams for the future.
My name is Wan Teng Lee. I am an 18 year-old Malaysian, who’s lived in Beijing for almost 10 years. I’ve been in YCIS Beijing since Year 4; before that, I studied in YCIS Shanghai. Having been with YCIS for so long, I can say that I am a true YCIS member!
How long have you been studying at YCIS Beijing? Looking back, how would you describe this experience?
I started school here in Year 4. I cannot emphasise how much change YCIS Beijing has undergone; I still remember when B building didn’t exist! Looking back, there were definitely ups and downs. It’s the worst seeing how your friends and favourite teachers leave the school, but it is the friendship that has been established here that make farewells hard. YCIS Beijing is a very close-knit community where we get to know each other very well.
What IB subjects did you choose? How did you feel about the IB programme?
My higher level subjects are in Biology, Chemistry, and English A: Language & Literature. My standard level subjects are in History, Mathematics, and Chinese A: Literature.
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the IB programme. This is a course that is much more complicated than traditional exam-centred programmes. It consists of very abstract components such as Theory of Knowledge (TOK) where students are pushed to question and critically assess knowledge we take for granted. The Extended Essay, as well, is a component where students take the initiative to conduct their own research to produce a research paper. It’s tough as students are pulled away from textbooks to stimulate their own academic independence and initiative. Especially when English is not students’ first language, writing papers is not only an academic challenge, but also demanding in terms of language; it is no longer about how well you solve a math problem, but also how well you articulate your use of mathematics.
However, having said that, there are also aspects of the IB programme I genuinely admire. This is a course that really prepares us for university. From hindsight, having struggled through TOK, the Extended Essays, and all Internal Assessments, I have learnt so much about the formalities of academic writing: how to structure a paper, cite academic literature, and more! Moreover, IB is a very eye-opening and practical course. Not only does it go beyond delivering theories, but it also puts emphasis on the application of these theories. For example, in my science subjects, we are constantly assessing the ethical and environmental applications of what we learn. Finally, IB also puts emphasis on CAS and encourages students to engage in non-academic activities to widen our interests. Through community service, students are made aware of global issues and are actively contributing to relieve some of these issues.
Having overcame all these challenges, I must say, IB brings a lot more reward than any other exam-based programmes!
How are you feeling now you have graduated from YCIS Beijing?
When I was still in Y12 I couldn't wait to graduate and experience university life! But now that I’ve actually graduated, it feels slightly bizarre. On one hand, it is rewarding to have completed a chapter of my life here at YCIS Beijing. To have persevered through this journey with all my teachers and friends makes this experience even more remarkable.
However, I am still adjusting to the idea of adulthood. Being a high-schooler has given me the privilege to be a child; to receive personal support from my teachers and parents, and to be forgiven for the mistakes I have made. However, graduating and stepping into university has opened me up to a life of more self-discipline and responsibility, which I’m nervous about.
What will you do now you have graduated?
At the moment, I’m taking some time to really tour around Beijing and re-visit some of the attractions here. I find it the best way to formally say goodbye to Beijing before I head off to university. The past two years have been very school-heavy, to an extent where I have very little time to rest. Now that I have some time off, all I want to do is relax!
My friends and I are also planning our graduation trip to Poland in June! The three of us are very excited to visit Auschwitz (not very light hearted) and local museums. We’ve been learning about the World Wars, Hitler, and the Cold War since IGCSE, and we find it only right to go witness these historically significant locations.
What do you think are the major reasons for your academic success at YCIS Beijing?
First of all, I find it very important to choose the subject I’m most interested in. Personally, I want to pursue a career in medicine, so Biology and Chemistry are naturally subjects I’m most intrigued by. Interest provides self-motivation and makes your learning experience a lot more comfortable. Self-discipline is also critical when it comes to academic success, especially when it comes to IB, planning and following deadlines makes IB a lot less scary than it sounds. An even distribution of work not only ensures high work quality but also provides extra time to rest and refresh! Finally, over the two years, my teachers have been very supportive. They’re willing to take extra time to mark my assignments and give detailed feedbacks. My University Guidance Counsellor, Mr. Jordan, is willing to stay after school till 6:00 to help me redraft my personal statement. I would not be able to make it through IB without their help!
The Secondary years can be tough for most Secondary students, how did you manage to enjoy the Secondary life?
Academically, Secondary life is a process of self-exploration, it is a time where you discover your field of interest. Personally, I took a wide variety of subject during my IGCSEs: from Co-ordinated sciences, to History, Geography, Economics, World Literature, and more! Never will there be another time were you can experience such a broad spectrum of knowledge at once! Although I’ve concluded that Economics and Physics weren’t for me, I was surprised my how much a dedicated medic like myself loved History and Literature!
However, it is also important to realise that Secondary life is not just about the academics. A big part of Secondary life is to participate and even take the initiative to lead extra-curricular activities. As you participate in more CCAs, you begin to realise Secondary life is whatever you make it! You have the freedom to make Secondary life purely academic, but also the freedom to explore the dynamics of Secondary life in a creative manner.
What is your best memory of your time at YCIS Beijing?
One of my best memory at YCIS was at the end of Y11 when our World Literature class prepared a farewell gift for our English teacher Mr. Dasopatis. The running inside joke was that Mr. Dasopatis looked so much like Gru from Dispicable Me. So with the help of Mr. Evans, all of us dressed up like minions, took photos, and made him a farewell card.
What general advice do you have for your younger peers at school?
Don’t be afraid to experience new things, leave no regrets! While you are struggling with exams, don't forget to take a break and join a CCA.
To read another student blog written by Wan Teng Lee, please click here. For other student blogs follow this link.