In The News
Building career skills with SCIS Job Shadow program
During the week of May 21-25, thirteen grade ten students shadowed a Shanghai professional during normal business hours for one week with the expectation to complete a project agreed upon by the employer.
This was a true win-win partnership because both parties learned new ideas and grew personally. Students gained an insider perspective on a chosen career and applied their classroom knowledge within a real-world context.
“When I heard about the Job Shadow opportunity, I was thrilled to get the chance of experiencing what my ideal future job would be like for a week. Working in a field that I am passionate about gave me the extra motivation that I needed to work hard and thrive in the field in the future.” – Anna Thelin – Shanghai HVA (Business and Marketing)
Job-Shadowing offers the unique opportunity to observe an employee as they go about their daily work routine and tasks. It allows for a realistic interpretation of what a particular job may entail and is the perfect opportunity to gain deeper insight about a career of interest.
“Working as a shadow in a big company like True Legend Asia Restaurant Group was an honor. Working in the kitchen at a young age for a week allowed me to see strengths and weaknesses I had, and gain new knowledge in food preparation. Observing and asking questions were ways I learned new skills that I took back with me. I had the chance to see how it was really like working in the kitchen before choosing my future career path.“- Gion Guerzon – Big Bamboo (Culinary Arts)
The Job-Shadow Experience was a pilot work program for a select group of Grade ten students based on an application, teacher evaluation, and committee vote. We selected thirteen students with a positive reputation for a strong work ethic, initiative, accountability and the ability to bring creative ideas to fruition.
This was a pilot year, but the goal is for it to become a required work experience for all Grade 10 students at SCIS-Hongqiao. If you would like to offer yourself as an “internship supervisor” and allow a student to collaborate with you at your workplace in 2019, please contact email@example.com.
This year’s participating students were:
– Shanghai HVA (Business and Marketing)
– BASF (Finance & Accounting)
– IKEA (HR Innovation)
– The Clinic (Sports Medicine)
– BBDO Advertising Firm (Advertising and Creativity)
– NIKE Basketball (Marketing & Product Development)
– Big Bamboo (Culinary Arts)
– BASF (Chemical Engineering)
– Siegel and Gale (Advertising and Branding)
– Doc’s Barbershop (Social Media Marketing)
– The Clinic (Sports Medicine)
– SECA Academy (Sports Marketing)
– Zurita (Fashion Design & Production)
(Source: Shanghai Daily, | June 26, 2018, Tuesday | )
Student from SCIS Pudong qualifies for the AIME
Twelfth-grade SCIS student, Steve Shin, has had quite a year of success in mathematics competitions. Back in November, he earned the highest score for SCIS-Pudong participants at the University of Waterloo’s Canadian Senior Mathematics Competition. Steve received further recognition during this competition for scoring in the top 25% worldwide.
In February, Steve became the first SCIS-Pudong student to qualify for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME). He accomplished this by scoring in the top 5% worldwide of students participating in the American Mathematics Competition. The AIME is the next step in the qualification process for the world’s most prestigious mathematics competition, the International Mathematics Olympiad.
Tell us a little about yourself?
“My name is Steven Shin and I am a senior this year. I am originally from Seoul, South Korea. I am involved in many sports with my favorite being basketball. You can always find me up in the gym or on the court outside, shooting a ball around during my free time. I am also very interested in the field of mathematics and solving problems, which is why I am part of the math club here at SCIS. We actually just came back from a mathematics competition in Suzhou over the weekend.”
You most recently participated in a mathematics competition in Suzhou, how did it go?
“I have been participating in the Suzhou competition since 10th grade. I am very happy with this competition even though we did not get a podium finish as a school; together with my teammates, I placed third out of 30 teams in something called the ‘Buddy Group’ category. Essentially, the Buddy Group pairs together six competitors from different international schools to compete against other teams.”
“Yes, I’m pretty proud of being able to place in the top three! Although our school wasn’t able to be as competitive as other schools due to our size, I think it was an amazing opportunity to go together with my classmates, as well as juniors, and collaborate as a team.”
How long have you been a part of the math club?
“I joined back in 10th grade. That’s when I started participating in the American Math Competition (AMC) and Canadian Math Competition (CMC)”
You’ve recently been invited to take part in the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME), how did you qualify?
“The AIME tournament is an opportunity giving to students who have performed exceptionally well in the AMC 10 or AMC 12 tests. The AMC 10 allows for anyone in 10th grade and below to participate and the AMC 12 allows students from grades 11-12. The top 5% in the AMC 12 and the top 2.5% in the AMC 10 qualify to compete in the AIME.”
What kind of math problems do you typically encounter on these tests?
“At first glance, the problems asked may look fairly complicated but in reality; they don’t require so much high level of math, but rather they require the ability to solve questions creatively. It tests you on your approach to problem-solving rather than simply your capability to memorize mathematical formulas.”
Interesting, would you say being able to be creative is one of your strong points?
“Absolutely, I am always challenging myself to think of different approaches to solving the same problem. I enjoy the challenge of problem-solving.”
How do you prepare for these types of competition?
“Well, I never really prepare only for competitions. On a daily basis, whether that’s during class time or my free time, I like to solve difficult math problems. I think the constant challenge is what prepares me. “
Why is solving problems important to you?
“Ever since I was young, I have been attracted to engineering and I am hoping to pursue a career in that field after graduation. This means I have to be good at math and I need to be constantly practicing. I also feel highly satisfied when I am able to find the solutions to extremely difficult questions. It may take me several hours but it is all worth it when I finally discover a simple solution to a difficult problem.”
Who were the people in your life who have influenced and helped you to pursue your passion for mathematics?
“From SCIS, Mr. Newell stands out as someone who has had a big impact on my life. He has been my teacher since grade 10 and has always motivated me with good feedback, encouraged me to participate in all these competitions and is always challenging me to do better. Also Mr. Biltz, who is in charge of the math club and my physics teacher. He is always willing to hear me out and gives me advice and suggestions when I need them. He also pushes me to try my best, for example, this year he gave me the 2014 Cambridge math examination questions for me to try and solve by myself!”
Nice. Final question, do you have any advice for others seeking a similar path?
“Actually, there are a fair amount of juniors in the math club who look up to me and come to me with any questions they have. A lot of them take the AMC, CMC, and AIME and all I hope for is that they continue to take part in these competitions. There is a special SCIS tradition that has to continue to grow! I would love to see students come together to create a physics club at SCIS.”
(Source: Shanghai Daily, | May 29, 2018, Tuesday | )
Contributing to the field of regenerative medicine
Sam Wu is now in the midst of doing his PhD at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) in Vienna, researching stem cells regeneration in the hopes of uncovering treatments for multiple cancer types. I had the chance to catch up with him to learn more about his current endeavours and what led him down this remarkable path.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Taiwan, and moved to Frankfurt, Germany with my parents at the age of 15 (in 2009). Two years later we moved to Shanghai where I completed final two years of high school. Then I attended the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, from 2013-2017. Most recently, I moved to Vienna for my PhD research study in mid-September 2017.
Q: How was the transition from SCIS to university?
At first, I was very impressed by enormous number of sports clubs and society that one could join. What also overwhelmed me were the large lectures (300-400 people) and the fact that semester length became extremely short. Nevertheless, the IB program at SCIS really helped me in the context of academic work. Since I went for a biology degree, self-learning and critical-thinking skills became super handy. It was super cool meeting many others who also did the IB program, and all seemed to know why they chose certain degrees. It made me think about my short- and long-term goals quite early on.
Q: You just recently started your PhD research at IMBA, how is it going so far? Is it what you expected?
It’s going well so far, I would say. My research mainly concerns with adult stem cells, which are cells that reside in specific tissues and carry the ability to self-renew and differentiate into specialized cell types. One important aspect I’m investigating is how cells form tumors and become cancerous. Stem cells and cancer are two of my favorite topics and they are very related topics in my opinion. By using genetic mouse models, I will illuminate the mechanisms of how specific cancer driver genes cause nasty tumors. Hopefully this will provide new perspectives towards treatment of multiple cancer types.
At the start, I expected lots of steep learning curves with new challenges. The fascinating part of science is that it stimulates you to think outside the box and requires you to overcome various challenges. IMBA offers a great environment for PhD’s, probably one of the very best in Europe. I’ve had many ‘Wow, did she/he just do that? That’s amazing!’ moments. This type of innovative atmosphere really makes it one of my favorite places to be in, and I’m very excited for what the future holds.
Q: What made you decide to go down this path?
There were many events that helped me reach where I am today. I valued internship opportunities, and I dedicated lots of time into science during university. I started my first internship in a research lab when I was in second year, and at the end of university I had around 1 year of research experience. To be honest with you, there was one event that motivated me the most. When I was in 11th grade, my grandpa sadly passed away on a Saturday morning because of cancer and he really suffered, like many other cancer patients. One of my long-term goals is therefore to make contribution to our understanding of cancer, and hopefully one day develop better treatments. Whenever I face challenges, remembering that many people are still suffering just pushes me to try harder.
Q: Was there anyone in particular at SCIS that helped you grow academically and personally
Definitely. Dr. Selime Cimen was particularly influential for me to develop an interest in biology. Her teaching style was very different. Besides explaining what was written on the textbook, she really taught me how to learn or self-taught. She was one of the first people I thought of when I got the official PhD offer, and I really appreciated her teaching. I also remember many others who constantly encouraged me, for example Mr. Patrick Macaulay (Economics), Ms. He (Mandarin), Ms. Darby Davis (Chemistry), Ms. Koenig (English & CAS), Mr. Strombeck (TOK), and Ms. Jensen (Chemistry), etc. Overall, the teachers and my fellow classmates altogether created a friendly and healthy-competitive environment that motivated me to try my best. At different stages, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people who gave useful advice, and I’m extremely thankful for them.
Q: Any advice for people seeking a similar career?
At the start, it’s crucial to try things out by doing internships. Ask lots of questions and have fun! You should really feel you can connect with what you do. It is okay even if you have a bad experience (such as rejection, poor supervision), just try elsewhere again next time. Later when it comes to deciding your career path, proactiveness and perseverance are very important characteristics to have. One should also keep in mind that most of the time things don’t go as planned. It often gets very exhausting to work your way out of the ‘cloud’, where you feel stuck and don’t know how to progress. At the end of the day, research is about re-trying experiments and confirming your results using different approaches. Like many other professions, attitude matters a lot. Never give up, and remember that the hard work you’ve put in will pay off at some point.
Q: What are some highlights about attending SCIS?
I played varsity volleyball and basketball. Being part of the sports teams meant a lot to me. Not only it got me stronger physically, it also had a positive effect on my mental resiliency. In my opinion, many things in life are actually not as bad as shooting (and air-balling) a free throw in a game!
I also participated in Model United Nations and organized a high school recycle club together with Ms. Davis and two other friends. The China trip in 11th grade to Guizhou province was also an amazing one. Having the chance to study and participate in so many things in an international environment was very special. The diversity at SCIS is really something to cherish.
(Source: Shanghai Daily, | January 30, 2018, Tuesday | )
US college opens door to SCIS pupil's soccer dream
Simon Wu, part of Shanghai Community International School’s Pudong Class of 2018, is the first ever active student-athlete at the school to sign in an National Collegiate Athletic Association program. After a tedious and determined two-year-long process, he was offered a spot on the soccer team at North Park University in Chicago, an NCAA Division III college in the United States. We talk with him about his perseverance to follow his passion and his future plan.
Q: Congratualtions on getting into North Park University. Why did you choose NPU?
A: To be honest, when I first received an e-mail back from North Park, I did not know much about them. I had been sending out thousands of e-mails to hundreds of schools across North America and this was one of the ones that replied.
It wasn’t until Coach Vic mentioned them being a nationally ranked school that I realized how great it was that they took an interest in me. That was the other big factor in my decision as I knew I wanted to play in a strong soccer program to further develop as an athlete.
Q: How do you feel about playing at a college level next year? Are you excited?
A: It’s very exciting! During my sophomore year, there was a period of time where I wanted to give up playing the sport and I remember sitting myself down one day to really think about what it was I wanted to do with my future and whether soccer would play a part in it.
That day I decided that it was time to take things to the next level and that playing for a university would be my goal for the next two years. From then on I told myself to keep at it and be the best player I could be. Now my next goal is to perform my best at the college level.
Q: There are thousands of universities with NCAA soccer; what criteria were used when selecting which schools to reach out to?
A: At first we sent out a bunch of e-mails to as many schools as possible, and as we narrowed it down it all came down to location and academic program. The biggest reason why we chose North Park was because of its community and location, and because it offered athletics training as a major, which is what I had intended to study post graduation. Having top-class facilities was another major criteria and again, North Park delivered. I think ultimately, the decision was made based on how closely the community resembled that of SCIS and how that would mean a natural transition.
Q: What does it mean for you to get signed by a university?
A: The biggest part of being signed as a college athlete representing SCIS is being able to really put the school on the map. I really wanted to give back to a community where I’ve been provided with such great opportunities growing up here since fifth grade. There are so many people who have influenced me, past coaches from soccer, volleyball, and basketball. It’s different parts of the components of these sports that made me who I am and a big part of it is SCIS and the commitment to the sports. Without playing basketball or volleyball and the learning experiences I’ve had, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Q: Has it been your dream to become a professional soccer player?
A: Every since I can remember I’ve been wanting to play soccer professionally. Back in first grade, I distinctly remember watching a Liverpool game on TV and being asked if I wanted to be a professional soccer player to which I quickly replied: “Hell yeah I want to be a professional soccer player!” It’s always a dream as a child, and now it all depends on how well I grow as an athlete and develop at the university level. My focus is still on athletic training education and learning as much as I can in that area. I personally hate being injured and on the sideline, so my goal is to be able to help athletes get back on the field and get back to their best.
Q: What do you know now that you wish you would have known at the beginning?
A: I would say start the recruiting process in the states because ultimately it’s easier as you get more exposure to the clubs and universities. At the same time, I can’t imagine leaving Shanghai, as it’s where I grew up and my home. I take great pride being one of the few international students coming from Asia to play at North Park, and I’m even more proud to be able to represent SCIS all the way.
Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing NCAA athletic opportunities?
A: Be commitment to what you want to do, never have somebody say no to you and prove the doubters wrong. If you want something, you have to persevere and push through the ups and downs.
(Source: Shanghai Daily, | April 24, 2018, Tuesday | )
Show Celebrates Imaginative Thinking
SHANGHAI Community International School Pudong’s spring production of “James and the Giant Peach” carried audiences away into the imagination of a young boy and his exciting tale of crossing the ocean in an enormous peach with five very large insect friends.
David Wood’s theatrical adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl book leaves plenty for the imagination of the actors, technical crew, and audience. The SCIS students have truly made this tale their own. The story celebrates the inventive solutions that children have for the trouble in their lives, be it terrible aunts like Sponge and Spiker, vicious sharks, monster octopuses, charging rhinos, or lassoing a flock of seagulls.
When drama animates our most treasured values, like the power of unconventional thinking and the determination of youth, it is an experience that makes an impact on our lives, just as the original book has made an impact on many of us. The production featured a talented ensemble of SCIS actors, whimsical, student-designed costumes and scenery, original choreography, not to mention a simply enormous peach on center stage. We hope you had a chance to join SCIS PD for the adventure, but if not, that you take time to wonder where you might go if you floated away on a giant peach.
By Katherine Enoch, Upper School Drama and Music teacher at SCIS Pudong
(Source: Shanghai Daily, Show Celebrates Imaginative Thinking | May 31, 2017, Wednesday | )
Future Filmmakers at Shanghai Student Film Festival
On March 17 and 18, 19 high school students from Shanghai Community International School Pudong attended the 10th annual Shanghai Student Film Festival. The festival is organized by a team of teachers from international schools in Shanghai, with the goal of providing a collaborative space for students to create and reflect on the filmmaking process.
The first day of the festival featured the eight-hour film challenge, where students were taken to a previously undisclosed location, grouped with students from other schools, and given the challenge of writing, shooting, and editing a two-minute film within eight hours.
This year the secret location was the M50 Art District on Moganshan Road. Upon arrival, students met their pre-assigned groups and began identifying production roles for each member of their team. They were advised to finish their shooting prior to convening at The Market for a “working lunch,” where they could eat and edit (frantically) up until the deadline. Guest judges arrived and the anticipation of the screening of the films grew. Despite some technical difficulties, all 27 films were screened and judged before the end the day. Awards were given to the top three films at the award ceremony.
This year, we were very fortunate to collaborate with the Vancouver Film School, as they hosted us in their stunning new facility on Shanghai University’s campus where their professors ran a variety of workshops for our students. March 18 began with an amazingly insightful and inspiring keynote address by Dreamworks head animator, Oliver Staphylas. He shared a true, behind-the-scenes, look into life as an animator, which has unsurprisingly resulted in an increased desire to create animated films from our students.
After the keynote, there were a variety of filmmaking workshops for the students to choose from, ranging from cinematography to scriptwriting to sound design. The day ended with the grand finale of the awards ceremony where SCIS Pudong once again received some fantastic recognition. Films created by Keith Leung, Yuan Lim and Benjamin Weng, and Javier Sanchez and Julio Schneider, and all took home awards for being final nominees in their respective categories. Leung created a much anticipated sequel to last year’s award-winning hit, Legoland, appropriately named Legoland 2, and this year he took home awards for Best Animation and, one of the biggest prizes of the night, the Best Non-IB Film. All in all, it was another fantastically successful festival!
SCIS Pudong’s high school students pose a group picture for attending the 10th annual Shanghai Student Film Festival.
(Source: Shanghai Daily, Future Filmmakers at Shanghai Student Film Festival | April 25, 2017, Tuesday | )
School Project Transforms Lessons Into Real Action
As an Upper School teacher of IB Biology and MYP Sciences, environmentalism is a particularly meaningful topic in my day-to-day teaching.We learn about carbon cycles to understand the significance of fossil fuel deposits used for combustion and carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. We track data that correlates atmospheric CO2 with global warming and changes to world climates and oceanic acidification. But some of my most enjoyable experiences with environmental learning have come from working with younger students, in particular as a mentor for a group of fifth graders engaging with a long-term collaborative project for their PYP Exhibition project on the environment.
The students had a good base of understanding global warming and its link to CO2 in the atmosphere, as well as people’s energy needs and issues surrounding conservation and resource management. After a period of brainstorming they identified fluorescent light bulbs in the school as an energy-consuming resource that are replaced often and disposed of frequently. Were there better,more environmentally friendly options available that would last longer and use less energy but at a similar cost? Working with these students, I found this was a question that required a lot of investigation. How much did the current light bulbs last? How expensive were they? How do we balance the economic cost of the “better” more environmentally friendly light bulbs with the benefit of less waste, less energy consumption and less carbon dioxideemitted into the atmosphere? Ideally, could we find a light bulb option that was an improvement both environmentally and financially, in the long-run?
The students came to a census of how many bulbs were in the classrooms and were surprised to find they numbered thousands.They had to find out how much the bulbs cost, how many were ordered every year, and how the more eco-friendly versions could be sourced in China. Ultimately their project will culminate in a presentation to our head of school where they will state their case for why the school should invest in this new bulb. If the students are able to crunch the numbers, explain the science, and appeal to reason, logic, and ethics, they have a great shot at seeing this learning turn into real concrete action.
Marin Dobson is IB Biology and MYP Science teacher at SCIS Pudong.
(Source: Shanghai Daily, School Project that Transforms Lessons Into Real Action | April 25, 2017, Tuesday | )
Shanghai's Education Ecosystem
“We are all about community,” says Daniel D. Eschtruth, Director of Schools at Shanghai International Community School (SCIS). “Expats of all nations and local families form communities on campus. Strong bonds develop between parents, teachers and students of all ages. We plan events to support the growth of our community and strengthen the bond that keeps everyone together. Though students may feel far from home, there is a sense we are all in this together. It is an unforgettable experience to have classmates from distant countries and feel they are neighbors. Friendships open everyone to a newfound international spirit. It’s a natural occurrence in all the international schools experiencing high levels of academic achievement and global consciousness.”
Photo Caption: “SCIS Hongqiao 2016 graduation class send caps airborne at end of the ceremony.”
Original Link: Shanghai’s Education Ecosystem (Source: Shanghai Business Review | March/April, 2017)
Nurturing Passion and Success at SCIS
From elementary school all the way to high school graduation, Angela Liu maintained an exceptionally high GPA during her years at Shanghai Community International School and she scored equally as well on her SATs with a score of 2000.
In her free time, she enjoys playing basketball, volleyball, as well as the piano and violin. The multi-lingual and multi-talented student is currently studying animal science at the university of California, Davis.
“Davis has always been my dream school. For those who want to take the pre-vet path, UC Davis is the number-one vet school in the world. I love the beautiful campus and the diverse hands-on experience I am able to obtain with large animal livestock, wildlife, exotic internships, and the possible research opportunities,” said Liu. “I am majoring in animal science with an emphasis on companion animals and maybe equine, while minoring in Chinese and Japanese. I chose this major because becoming a veterinarian has always been my dream. I plan to finish my doctorate of veterinary medicine in America in the future.”
She describes how the transition to university life “was pretty smooth since SCIS shaped me to become more adaptable and open-minded towards diversity and different cultures.”
Liu recounts her favorite classes at SCIS — psychology, biology and Chinese literature. Her teachers inspired her to study in the US and further inspired her to become a veterinarian.
Liu participated in the IB programme at SCIS.
“IB has really prepared me for my college classes. While most of my peers were struggling, I was quite successful with classes such as chemistry and calculus,” Liu said.
“For the first year, these college classes seem easier than the IB curriculum, especially in terms of the thoroughness of labs. The IB curriculum with the IAs and extended essays has really brought me to a higher academic starting point than most of my peers.”
After her studies, Liu hopes to return to Shanghai to open her own full-service animal clinic.
Attending SCIS, being surrounded by an international community of students and teachers prepared her for a lifetime of success.
Original Link: Nurturing passion and success at SCIS (Source: Shanghai Daily | November 29, 2016, Tuesday)
Confronting Real World Issues in SCIS Classroom
At Shanghai Community International School, we recognize that students today are modern learners. They want to be challenged, inspired and motivated in a way that capitalizes on their unique experiences and technological skill set. They want to be in an environment that encourages collaboration and multiple forms of communication. They want to be provided with opportunities to pursue their passions and interests without worrying about the right answer or someone passing judgement on their work.
Decades of research has shown, that regardless of age, student learning is done best when it is situated in an authentic and real-world context. A context that encourages students utilize their skills in problem-solving, creativity, analytical thinking, collaboration and communication to actively engage with real-world issues.
Our teachers are consistently working to provide learning experiences for students that are connected to current local and global issues. Recently, Grade 4 students delved into the transdisciplinary theme of Sharing the Planet and inquired into various ecosystems and the impact humans have had on the Earth’s many natural environments, including our local Shanghai surroundings. At the onset of the unit, in an effort to peak their interest and curiosity, students were shown a variety of photographs of ecosystems around the world. The pictures depicted ecosystems that were thriving, as well as those that have been virtually destroyed by mankind. Certain images were from student’s home countries or places they have visited. Students were asked to record directly onto the photograph what they saw, thought and wondered. After discussing each of the photographs and the students’ observations and questions, each child was asked to select a picture representing an ecosystem they would be passionate about understanding and improving.
Once all students had made their selection, they worked together in groups to gather research from online sources and library materials. Following days of organizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating their research findings, students learned that ecosystems around the world are grossly imbalanced and this is having a disastrous impact on the organisms and living things within those environments.
As a way to take action and educate the greater community, students built 3D dioramas depicting both a balanced and imbalanced ecosystem. Their creative and unique displays were showcased in the front entry way of the school for parents and other students to interact with. Included in their exhibit was information on the components of their selected ecosystem, how the living things within the ecosystem are interdependent and the consequences the world faces as a result of the imbalance. Additionally, students developed a real-world action plan that would assist with reestablishing balance to the ecosystem. They developed a passion for a real-world issue and an intense desire to be part of the solution to this problem generated by mankind.
Therefore, it is imperative that as educators and parents we need to make a conscious and continued effort to engage students in meaningful, real-world issues and allow them an opportunity to apply the skills of problem-solving, creativity, thinking, collaboration, and communication in authentic and significant ways.
By Liz Gale, Lower School Principal at Shanghai Community International School – Pudong Campus
Original Link: Confronting Real World Issues in the SCIS Classroom (Source: Shanghai Daily | March 28, 2017, Tuesday)
What It Means to Be Home - 3rd Prize Winner, LittleStar CISB Short Story Competition ‘HOME’
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HOME
You stare at the dull gray table.
You feel the officer’s eyes staring into you like that of a ghost. He was the one that came when the store called the police. With a small glimpse, he was around thirty, fair-skinned with dark brown eyes.
His lips are curled into a frown, his arms crossed against his chest.
“Why did you do it?” He asks flatly, his voice breaking the thick silence.
“Do what?” You ask back lazily, your eyes flickering over him.
“Steal.” He bites. “Why did you steal?”
You let out a shrug. “Don’t know. I was bored.”
“Bored?” He raises a brow, his hands now clasped together on the table as he leans in slightly. “I’ve heard lots of excuses, but ‘bored’ is a rare one.”
You only shrug again.
“Where are your parents?” He asks after a heartbeat and your jaw tightens.
“They died.” Your tone is crisp and short.
“Sixteen.” He shakes his head and leans back. “Being young and without parents is no excuse to steal.”
“How about you lock me in jail?” You nod at him, your eyes dull and empty. “I’m looking for a place to stay anyway.”
“What happened to your parents?” He asks, ignoring your statement, and you roll your eyes at him.
“They died.” You repeat, a bit firmer, and he nods.
“I heard that the first time.” He shakes his head. “I meant, how did they die?”
Your lips purse into a tight line. “A fire. Our house burned down. They didn’t make it. I was lucky.”
He nods, understanding. But you stare at him, a bit fiercer. No, he doesn’t understand. He didn’t lose his parents in a fire. “What happened to you afterwards?”
“I was taken to an orphanage.” You answer. “But it sucked, so I ran away.”
“You should go back.” He tells you, his tone a bit softer.
“I didn’t run away to get taken back.” You snap. “Well? Take me to jail. I’d rather go to jail than be with other pitiful children like me.”
He shakes his head again, this time sadly. His eyes keep telling you, “how sad, you poor, poor soul.” You grit your teeth and look away.
“Here,” he says. “I’ll go call someone I know to take you away. She’s nice. I’ll deal with the rest of your case. You’ll probably get fined and—”
“Just take me to jail already.” You almost beg.
“So you’re the one that was caught stealing underage.” The foreign voice makes you look up to see a young woman hovering over you with a smile.
“You’re the one that the officer called.” You say and her smile widens. Without a word, she takes a seat next to you.
“How’s life?” She asks, her tone light with slight humor.
You wonder if she’s joking. “Terrible.”
She nods. “That was a stupid question, wasn’t it.” Then she let’s out a soft laugh, like she found the entire situation funny.
You stay silent. Her presence is strangely soothing, and you notice the small details. How she is wearing a gold bracelet on her right wrist that twirled together as if it was alive. How she smelled faintly of lavender. How her hair was not fully dark but consisted of small strands that glows red or gold when hit with the right light.
You close your eyes.
Then you feel a sense of sorrow. Something that you lost ever since you cried your heart out in front of black ashes and scarlet flames.
“I just…” You start softly, barely a whisper. From the corner of your eyes you see her pink lips curl up into a smile. “I just wanted to go home.”
“Then go home.” She tells you and you shake your head, your head dipping lower.
“I have no home.” You finally say. “Nowhere to return to.”
“Then make a new one.” She stands up abruptly and holds out her hand for you, expecting you to take it. She raises a brow when you hesitate.
“What are you doing?” You ask her, your hair standing on end.
She rolls her eyes, but her smile doesn’t waver. “Taking you home, of course.”
“Do you like it here?” Her name is Kashi Gray, which you find very ironic. Kashi, which means light, against the dullness of Gray.
You poke at your scrambled eggs and nod slightly, not sure how to answer.
She leans forward, resting her chin on her interlocked hands, almost dreamily. She smiles again.
“Do you want to live here?” She asks slowly, eyes trained on you like a hypnotizing spell. “With me?”
“…I don’t know what you mean.” You answer after a pause and she leans back again, letting out a soft laugh.
“I want to adopt you.” She says and you snap up at her, questionably, wondering if you heard her wrong.
“If you agree, that is.” She looks at you expectantly. Her eyes are shining and her hair looks almost golden under the sunlight streaming in from the stainless windows. You look around the room. Beautiful. Peaceful. A faint smell of lavender lingers in the air. It would be nice to live here, you think. But you stay silent.
“Here,” she sits up a little straighter and her smile melts into something softer, if possible. “Let me tell you a story, and you can decide after that.”
You nod and wait for her to speak. You feel her take a deep breath, letting out a sigh. “You know? I’m also an orphan.” You cock your head at her confession. She still has the same smile plastered on, but her eyes look faraway as she reminiscences old memories. “I remember I was about your age. Sixteen. Maybe even younger. You see, how my parents died isn’t important. I grew up too fast. I worked hard. The end.” She let’s out a long sigh.
“But life isn’t as easy as stories make it seem.” She looks at you again and this time, her smile is gone. “For a very long time, I was lost. I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore, what to do with my life.” She shakes her head. “I was trying so hard to find my home; a place where I belonged. I went round and round, like a carousel.”
“How did you get out?” You ask, raising an eyebrow. She tilts her head, allowing her dark hair to fall over her shoulder, a soft tug on her lips as she remembers. She reaches across the round table and takes your hand in her warm ones. You hear the soft clanking of gold against wood as her bracelet caresses the surface. You let her just squeeze your hand. Like a mother would. “Then one day, I was looking through my belongings. The few things I still had. I found this,” she lifts her wrist up slightly, showing you her bracelet. “My mother gave it to me. I stared at it and ran my thumb over the smooth surface and it felt so nostalgic. It was a memory of her. And it just clicked. Like pieces of my life fitting together into a perfect puzzle. Like I finally found the key to the lock I was desperate to open.”
She pauses and you wait patiently. Her brows furrows together as she tries to find the correct words, how to phrase her thoughts properly. She wants to tell you her story, and she wants to tell it right.
“You see,” she starts slowly. “Home is not a place. It isn’t the house you’ve been living in since you were young or the familiar people around you. It isn’t a thing. If anything, home is memory. It’s the memory of being happy and comfortable and safe. You see. So you can’t just look for your home. You have to build it yourself. It’s all in your head.” She taps her slender finger against her temple for emphasis. “If you believe you have nowhere to go, it becomes true. If you believe that this is your home, it is.”
Six months later I was officially adopted. It was a weird transition, from calling her ‘Kashi’ to ‘mom.’ It felt a little awkward, calling her my mom when I clearly remembered my own. But it was not unpleasant.
“It’s all in your head.” You remember her telling you. They say home is where the heart is. It’s all in your head.
You smile. Pushing the door open, you place your shoes on the shoe rack neatly, and set your bag down on the chair like it’s the most natural thing in the world. You are greeted by the soft aroma of hot chocolate mixed in the usual fragrance of lavender and a smile that you most certainly will remember. “I’m home,” you call.
By Kamilah Wong,
Grade 11 Student at Shanghai Community International School, Hongqiao Campus
(Source: Little Star, What It Means to Be Home – 3rd Prize Winner, LittleStar CISB Short Story Competition ‘HOME’ | April 28, 2017 | )
Dragons Excel at Swimming Championship Meet
The Shanghai Community International School Dragons swimming team participated in the Shanghai Swimming Leagues’ Annual Championship Meet. Each swimmer entered three individual events and some gained a spot on the competitive relay teams to represent SCIS Dragons as the fastest swimmers in their age category.
Over the competition weekend the team enjoyed new personal bests, the competitive environment, made new friends and developed their skills as young athletes. Overall the SCIS Dragons team gained 2 gold medals, 4 silver medals and 10 bronze medals.
Original Link: Dragons excel at swimming championship meet (Source: Shanghai Daily | March 03, 2017, Friday)
Expo Events Put Student Skills to the Test
Usually the project must be experimental in nature, but sometimes it can also be research-oriented from the science unit the grade level is currently studying. In other words, students must do a test, survey, or experiment to determine the answer to their question, or they are required to do in-depth research on a specific topic.
Our ability to solve present and future problems depends on our ability to question the world in new and creative ways. With our knowledge of the world growing so rapidly, we must move away from having our children simply memorize facts. Computers can do that much better and more efficiently. Instead, we must emphasize the thinking skills that can put those facts to use and the skills to organize new facts as they emerge.
What better opportunity for a child to develop such skills than to participate in his or her school’s science fair! The thinking skills a child develops while doing a Science Expo project are the same basic skills he or she will use daily throughout their life — to identify problems and find creative solutions to those problems.
In addition to providing students with practical research skills, Science Expos provide students with an opportunity to participate in an enjoyable hands-on activity in an area of interest outside the classroom.
By Martin Mavec, Science Teacher at Shanghai Community International School – Pudong Campus
Original Link: Expo events put student skills to the test (Source: Shanghai Daily | February 28, 2017, Tuesday)
Talented SCIS Student in Spotlight with Viral Song
I was inspired by my passion for someone to write a song, any song that would portray my desire for change.
After reading an article about Aleppo and the conflict that has killed so many people, I became angry, wishing for a change, but I knew nothing would change any time soon and that really aggravated me.
I stumbled across an artist named Nate McCray on a website called Allihoopa. McCray wrote a backing track during the 90s called, “I Wish That You’d Come Home.” As I played the instrumental, a whole chorus of lyrics and words echoed through my head. I began to improvise with my verses, which was surprisingly, an easier process than I thought. Before I knew it, I had completed my song, Salty Water, in under one hour. I had to admit, I really thought it was beautiful. It was full of passion and it exploded with hope. I couldn’t stop listening to it. I decided to post the song on Allihoopa. Why not? I thought it was worth a try. Besides, why not receive a few tips and likes?
Two weeks later, my thinking that a “few” would respond was well underestimated. I received over 400 views, along with a comment coming from the artist, McCray, who created the instrumental. He couldn’t believe what I had done to his song. My song was spreading and comments on the website were going viral. People were asking to interview me and others were taking my song and making remixes and various acoustic versions.
After getting such positive feedback, I decided to perform the song for the SCIS Hongqiao Winter Concert. It was a thrilling experience knowing that my friends and family were watching and listening to my creation and development of a piece that I made in my bedroom! This inspired me to put the song on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Youku, and over 100 other digital music websites. I saw my picture, along with my song title on iTunes! I couldn’t believe it, my song was out there!
Since that time, people have been purchasing my song from over 10 different countries and I have received over 5,000 views and streams in just over one month! It’s amazing to know that inspiration and passion can be such a powerful tool. I feel like my voice and feelings have been heard, not through talking, but through music and songwriting. Even from 7,000 miles away, I continue to collaborate with Nate. In fact, we just finished our second song, which I look forward to releasing soon! I also am enjoying expanding my writing and creativity, as these aspects are what have pushed me to pursue my great passion for singing and songwriting.
Original Link: Talented SCIS student in spotlight with viral Song (Source: Shanghai Daily | February 28, 2017, Tuesday)
A Basketball Dynasty
The Shanghai Community International School Hongqiao girls’ basketball team had an incredible season. The team consisted of 9th to 12th graders, with the mix of ages and experience working to their advantage, as the girls worked hard, improved and bonded. In their games every girl had ample opportunity to develop her skills, take risks and learn.
The SCIS Hongqiao girls’ team went undefeated during the league. The team later entered the SISAC tournament, finishing second after a very strong SAS Pudong team. After the SISAC tournament, the girls soon entered the ACAMIS tournament which lead to the final game against RCHK. The match was tough, but with less than 30 seconds left, senior Greta Delfino buried a basket and gave the girls the lead. After this lead, two defensive stops and maintaining possession lead to a 20-19 victory to SCIS over RCHK.
The girls showed hard work, determination, sportsmanship and enjoyment throughout their competitions, with this season going down as the best season according to their PE Teacher, Kathryn Clouthier.
Original Link: A Basketball Dynasty (Source: Chalksmart | Febuary 23, 2017, Tuesday)
SCIS Hongqiao Reading Buddies Program
At Shanghai Community International School (SCIS), Hongqiao Campus, the Middle School EAL Phase 5/6 participate in a Reading Buddies Program where the EAL students visit Ms. Connolly’s 2nd Grade class once per 8-day cycle. The EAL students, who are in Grades 7 & 8, have a 2nd Grade “buddy” or two. They bring a book for them and spend time reading with the little ones.
The EAL students have learned the techniques of identifying the theme of their book, asking questions regarding the theme to their buddy before they read the story, implementing a book walk where they look at the pictures in the book and try to guess what the characters are doing, asking questions while reading the book, and returning to the questions regarding theme. The EAL students are getting a little taste of the techniques incorporated by teachers while reading storybooks. By creating an authentic experience for them, it puts more emphasis on their reading techniques. They are now a reading model for the 2nd Graders.
“I think it’s fun and it’s good practice to read to them. I focus more on my pronunciation and reading skills when I have to read to my buddy,” said Eva Wahlberg, a first-year SCIS student from Finland.
“It helps me explain the story to the 2nd Grader if they don’t get it. It’s helping my pronunciation and makes me focus on speaking louder,” commented Daniel Lee, a third-year student from Korea.
At first, the EAL students were a little self-conscious and apprehensive to read to the little ones, but once they met their buddy and spent some time with them, their nervousness dissipated and the buddies quickly formed a bond.
Jo Lin, a 2nd-Grader from the US said, “I like them because they read us stories and they play with us.”
Although the Reading Buddies Program is in its infancy, the rewards for both the 2nd Graders and the EAL students are extremely positive.
Thomas Simmons, Jo’s classmate and also from the US, feels that, “It’s good because they have fun with us and I like to read with them.”
Original Link: SCIS Hongqiao Reading Buddies Program (Source: Shanghai Daily | November, 2016)