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Ningbo student is on journey of self-discovery
April 27, 2018 | KL Community

Helping Others While Improving Yourself

Weixian (Vancy) Dai’s reasons for enrolling in the Barstow-Ningbo school were not just about her academic future. Yes, she has dreamed about attending college in the US since she was very young. But she wanted to attend a high school that would help shape who she would become not just force a pedagogical model on her. “I’m so happy about the choice I made,” she says. “I feel lucky to have met such wonderful teachers who have given me opportunities to express myself, guided me towards discovering my own answers, and encouraged me to explore my potential.”

Heading to college in the fall, Vancy says that her strengths are her active willingness to improve and to influence those around her. Once a shy girl, she is now full of self-confidence. Once lacking presentation skills, she now considers herself to be a presentation expert. Once a slow reader and information processor, she is now a key member of both the reading club and the newspaper club. “My years at Barstow-Ningbo have been transformational,” she says. “I am looking forward to this next chapter in my life!”

We sat down with Vancy to learn more about her plans.

What has been the biggest change in your life since joining the Barstow-Ningbo school?

My communication skills have soared at Barstow-Ningbo, and it has made both my studies and my personal life more colorful. I used to attend a Chinese high school with a fixed schedule, classmates, and courses. Life was unchangeable, so I barely communicated with people outside of my studies. I had no more time to explore things that I enjoyed. I am grateful to my Ningbo teachers for quickly identifying this weakness when I arrived. They constantly encouraged me to participate in activities, meet more peers, and discover more about myself. Gradually I opened my social circle, thanks to my improved communication skills, and I began studying with and learning from them. I discovered a different, new, and improved me.

How did your teachers, classmates, and KL staff help you build your confidence?

I believe that most students in the Chinese education system are shy – they do not dare to ask questions because they are afraid of making mistakes. For this reason, they miss opportunities to show themselves. I used to be like this. But when I got to Ningbo, I noticed the genuine care and encouragement in people’s eyes, and I realized that my questions would always be answered patiently. I found myself talking more often, asking others for help, and exchanging ideas. Now, not only do I dare to ask questions, but I ask better questions to get deeper answers.

I also take part in all kinds of activities, and I search for opportunities to practice my skills. Because Ningbo follows an American curriculum, I have had a lot of chances to give presentations, which means that I am always challenging myself. My team members typically run through a preview before doing a final presentation, which helps us find and solve many problems in advance. By the time we reach the stage, the entire process is smoother. The applause from teachers and classmates has really boosted my confidence.

Ningbo student is on journey of self-discovery

Why did you create the Reading Corner?

To enrich the content of my writing, my teachers often ask me to read articles, analyze the logic, and summarize the main themes. I came up with the idea of a reading corner where classmates with the same needs could gather. By reading articles together, discussing opinions, working out the structures, and sharing our feelings, we found that our reading, writing, and presentations become better. I see the Reading Corner as a platform of encouragement, communication, and sharing. It’s a place that helps people make progress together. It’s a simple thing one can do to help people around you while improving yourself.

We know that you love to travel! What has been your biggest take-away from this activity?

I have been to many countries, including the United States, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Russia. When I travel, I can feel the different cultures of each place, some similar to my own and others quite different. It is interesting to discover the diversity of the world. To get a better understanding of a new culture, I choose to live with a local family. For example, when I visited New Zealand I embraced the lifestyle of my host family by wearing their tribal costumes, drawing colorful but strange tribal totems, and dancing the Maori dance. The experience had a profound impact on me, both visual and physical. I felt so strong and powerful. These kinds of personal experiences have helped me succeed in my Globalization course. Whenever I was asked to write something related to culture, I could draw from my own experiences and share unique personal stories and feelings.

Tell us about your photography portfolio!   

I have based my portfolio on my travel experiences, recording my visits to other places, cities, and countries as a way to share my feelings with others. I love taking scenic photos of both traditional and modern life because it creates a strong contrast and shows more comprehensive characteristics of a place. For example, when I took a picture of Suzhou city, I took a picture of the traditional town style with misty rain and fog, and I also took a picture of the modern city.

My Ningbo teachers recommended that I join the Newspaper club to showcase my work, express my point of view, inspire my understanding of different cultures, and give my classmates more topics to discuss. I have learned the art of sharing at Barstow-Ningbo, and it has enhanced my love of both photography and travel.

When I was applying to college, my KL college counselor suggested that I share my photography portfolio with admissions officers as a way to show them my versatility. I believe they could truly see my talent and effort from my photographs.

Congratulations on receiving offers from six US colleges and universities! What do you feel has been your biggest advantage in applying?

I had some initial concerns at the beginning because I didn’t feel that my standardized test scores were high enough. My KL college counselor carefully analyzed my strengths and weaknesses, and told me that she believed my high and stable GPA proved my academic abilities, and I believe these college offers prove that point.

Secondly, I have had a variety of extracurricular experiences and activities which reflect my personal side. For example, I conducted a social survey of Lishui to better understand the region and to put forward a feasibility plan for local economic development according to the survey results. This project fit nicely into my college application for social science, and reflected well my love for this subject.

Additionally, I signed up for a web course in project management, and it has taught me essential skills such as resource and time management. It has helped me to keep up with a fast-paced, multi-tasking environment.

Do you have any suggestion for younger KL students?

First, I would say aim for a high GPA and keep it stable, because this reflects your long-term attitude towards studying. While a high GPA does not guarantee you acceptance to your dream school, a low GPA will most certainly affect you.

Second, I recommend participating in meaningful activities. Academics are not the only way for you to prove your learning abilities. Joining in relevant extracurricular activities can help you practice your skills and create a more well-rounded background for yourself.

Lastly, I do not recommend choosing easy courses in order to help you get a higher GPA, because it could gradually decrease your learning ability. Choose one or two difficult courses to challenge yourself and explore your potential abilities.

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