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Behind student success: Confidence, personality and an open mind

IN a city like Shanghai, where students regularly matriculate and withdraw from international schools in rhythm with their parents' work contracts, it is rare to be in the same school for more than four years.

But the story is different for three students who have been at Yew Chung International School of Shanghai (YCIS) for a combined 25 years.

Even more amazing is that they're not alone: A full third of their graduating classmates have been there for six years or more.

Alan Chen, Shotaro Takei and Serita Savolainen are representative of these "longstayers." They have benefitted from both primary and secondary education at YCIS Shanghai, they speak three or four languages each and all three enthusiastically look forward to their next challenges in life.

Talking at length with these students, it becomes clear that they all have well-developed, distinct plans and are excited for the future. Chen is off to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to pursue materials science engineering. Savolainen will study forensic biology in London after spending a gap year to polish her Chinese-language skills, and Takei is headed to New York University to study sports management.

They didn't choose these paths at random. According to them, great teachers, a culture that inspires diversity and open-mindedness, and an approach towards globalization that treats people as individuals have helped shape them.

"I used to be a shy kind of person, but that changed pretty quickly," says Chen, citing the everyday interpretation of globalization at YCIS Shanghai as one of the most important benefits for him.

Savolainen found and developed her interests through teachers and classes. "I'm so glad I've been able to stay so long, been able to get to know the teachers and the way that people learn and teach," she explains. For Takei, YCIS Shanghai's physical education program inspired him to pair his love for sports with a practical business foundation in the sports management major at New York University.

This year, YCIS Shanghai conferred diplomas to 53 students who will matriculate at a range of universities: pre-medicine at UC Berkeley, fashion design at Parsons The New School for Design, hotel management at Hong Kong Polytechnic, and chemical engineering at Imperial College London, to name a few.

These areas of study, fascinating as they are varied, suggest a group of graduates who gave thought to what they want to do and how they are going to achieve it.

In a city where few things last long enough to show results, it is inspiring to see these Shanghai-grown, long-term success stories.


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