Ningbo Student Receives ED to Wake Forest
January 5, 2018 | KL Community

In Katherine’s Words: Volunteerism Starts Small

On December 1st, Chen Zhu (Katherine), a student on our Barstow Ningbo campus, received an early decision (ED) offer from Wake Forest University – the earliest student to receive such an offer from a Top 30 US school. An excellent student with strong leadership, communication, collaboration, and creation skills, Katherine shared with us another path to success: helping others with your heart.

For two years now, Katherine has been voluntarily visiting her local hospital, for three hours a week, to answer simple patient questions, teach patients how to use self-service machines, and help them measure their blood pressure. Her efforts reduce the burden on hospital staff, and make daily life more convenient for hundreds of patients. She regularly visits elderly patients who can often times be lonely, chatting with them and cutting their hair and nails for them. Sometimes her actions are more than their real grandchildren. “I don’t need to visit a poverty-stricken area in Africa or Nepal to show my love,” says Katherine. “A real expression is not about the high-end activities you’ve attended, but about whether you truly want to help others right in your own neighborhood.”

On campus, she serves as a tutor for freshmen, translating lessons, assisting them in class, and reviewing their homework. In order to spread the advantages of KL international schools among students and help them choose their best path for growth, she teamed up with classmates to shoot a video introducing and promoting the Barstow Ningbo school.

Helping others is already a habit for Katherine. We sat down to interview her and learn more about her life:

If you could thank anyone for your school experience, who would it be?

I want to thank all the teachers who have helped me in high school for the past three years. Their encouragement and guidance laid a great foundation for my future studies. Shane Foster, Head of the Barstow School, and Lucia Reeser, Dean of the Barstow Ningbo campus, both wrote a letter of recommendation for me; Mary (Annie) Wall, my 12th grade college writing teacher, opened my mind by assigning different writing topics to us every Friday, and patiently taught me how to modify my college essays in order to make them more interesting; and Edward Tuite, my guide, provided learning methods and enlightened me whenever needed.  In addition, I would like to thank ​​my college consultants, Sisi and Emma, who have been thinking about my college applications since the 10th grade. They helped me schedule my short-term goals and plan out my entire college application process. I also want to thank my classroom teacher Erica for helping and supervising me throughout my school life. Finally, I want to thank my subsequent alumnus Sixian Shao, whose guidance and interview suggestions greatly improved the success of my own interviews.

What do you feel was your biggest advantage when applying for college?

In my mind, my college essays were the most outstanding part. I worked very hard to research schools to find the best fit for myself, to understand their requirements, and to write essays that matched those requirements. I honestly believe that the most important thing is school curriculum, though others might think it is the TOEFL test scores. The overall process of learning is one that directly improves my own English development, while the TOEFL class outside of school helps me improve my overall score on the exam. If you place too much of your energy towards the TOEFL, you have it reversed. In my spare time, I read original English books and watched American drama shows to increase my vocabulary and improve my reading and listening abilities.

How much time do you spend helping others each week? What is the value you get from your volunteerism?

My insistence on helping others is a result of my mother to a large extent because she has been helping others her entire life. During my three years of high school, I insisted on spending three hours a week at the hospital as a volunteer, helping patients with things that they needed. It is meaningful to me because, in the process, I meet all sorts of patients, provide them with all kinds of help, and I know I am bringing convenience to others.

Ningbo Student Volunteers at Local Hospital

Katherine volunteering at her local hospital

What do you think of the community service requirements in KL schools?

My school requires us to spend 25 hours of community service each year. I know that American schools attach great importance to students’ participation in community services as a manifestation of social responsibility. Some students viewed the community service as a task; when they were volunteering, they would wander aimlessly and waste time. However, my teachers educated us on how to be a proactive volunteer. From my personal experiences, I learned to truly participate in community service, to help people solve problems, and to learn from the people around me. After initially participating in community service as a requirement, I found myself much more willing to offer help with small things in my day to day life.

Barstow Ningbo Student Organizes Charitable Donations for Shipment

Katherine organizing charitable donations for shipment

How has being a Barstow Ningbo student changed the way you learn?

In my earlier years of education, in a traditional Chinese school, I worked hard to remember the knowledge but would forget it right after the exams. However, teachers at Barstow Ningbo taught me to collect information from various sources. They encouraged critical and independent thinking, and inspired my interest in studying and exploring through various projects. As the old saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. The impact of this is profound.

Why did you make a video to promote the Barstow Ningbo School?

When I first came here to study, my relatives, friends, teachers, and classmates from my former school continually asked me about it. From their questions and comments, I felt that they doubted the overall reliability and quality of education in an international school. After two years at Barstow Ningbo, I decided to make a video to show them what American education is all about, the difference between the two education systems, and how American education can impact student development. I spent a long time conceiving and then filming this video. When it was completed, I showed it to everyone in my life, and told them how much I love Barstow Ningbo.

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