What Our Students Say About Christmas

Written by: Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer 

Our YCIS students come from all different parts of the world and for many of them, they are Third-Culture Kids, which allows them to embrace other cultures and traditions! Growing up in the digital age, they can naturally use digital tools and devices. They use these skills to great effect, including making this video testimonial of their peers!  Take a break from reading and enjoy the video and testimonials!

Primary Students

Christmas time is a very exciting occasion for my family. Every Christmas we go somewhere for a vacation. This year’s Christmas, I am going on a ship to Japan with my family. We will return on Christmas Eve and my family will eat a Christmas dinner. The next day, which is Christmas Day, in the morning my bigger sister and I will go to our Christmas tree and get our Christmas presents. Every Christmas it is a very happy time at my home. Carrie Jiang

Every Christmas my family and  I go on vacation. Last year we went skiing in Japan and we had a great time but it was FREEZING! This year we are going to a tropical forest where it will be very warm. We will go with other friends and  I am very excited! Sophie Wu

Our favorite food to eat during Christmas is dumplings. Samuel from US and Jun Kai from Singapore.

During Christmas, my favorite food is also dumplings and my favorite activity is making snowmen. Yuseong from Korea.

During Christmas, my favorite food is Hawaiian pizza and my favorite thing to do is to snowboard. Yajun Wu from China

My favorite food during Christmas is my mom’s home-made pizza and the thing I like best about Christmas is getting to see my family. Paloma Edmonds from USA.

Secondary Students

What I enjoy about Christmas is being with the family and opening presents. Another thing I always look forward to is our family Christmas lunch. In our family we don’t really have any traditions, except for all being together that day. Ariana from Italy

We don’t celebrate Christmas in our family. However, during Christmas holidays, we take the opportunity to travel and explore new places. The previous places we visited were: Vietnam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. This year, we will go and explore Burma! Otherwise, what I like at Christmas time is the music and happiness. Eli Tsives, Year 8 from USA

We don’t celebrate Christmas either, but Christmas holidays are a good opportunity for me to go to Hong Kong and meet my grandma that I haven’t seen for half  a year. We have family lunches, just normal ones. Kevin Tien, Year 9 from Hong Kong

During Christmas holidays, we go to the mountains for skiing. We go to places in China where there is snow like Harbin, or Zhangbaishan, which is quite close to Shanghai. Yes, I believe it is like a family tradition since we do this every year. What do we like the most? Christmas trees!– Jasmine and Jacky, Year 7 from Hong Kong.

What I enjoy the most during Christmas is family coming back as I haven’t seen them for a long time. We are altogether just twice a year. What is special in this family gathering is our Christmas traditions, and the one that I like the most is decorating the tree. Oliver Robinson, Year 12 from USA.

During Christmas, my favorite thing is eating food – any food, my favorite song is Carol the Bells and my favorite activity is to opening the presents!!! Nathan Shih, Year 8 from USA – Philippines

YCIS Staff Share Their Christmas Stories

Written by: Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer 

The celebration of Christmas has become so present in the world and is mainly associated with buying presents and spending time with the family. However, there is so much more behind this festive and happy holiday. Depending on which country you are from, depending from which part of the globe you live in, depending on your culture or religious background, even depending on your family traditions, each of us have a different perspective and experience of celebrating Christmas.

At YCIS there is so much diversity! Do you want to travel across the different places of the world, do you want to travel through time and hear about the experiences of our staff? Then, be ready! This is going to be an exciting adventure of reading and sharing with your friends! Sometimes, the place where the person is from is not so obvious, so let’s see if you can guess where everyone is from! You can test yourself in our January’s Newsletter Quiz.

1) Admissions Team – our window to our staff’s diversity!

Even before you joined the school, you had a first glimpse into our multi-cultural community through our Admissions Team! Check out their thoughts about what they enjoy most about Christmas. 

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is going to the Christmas tree farm as a family, and picking out our tree together.  After we get the tree home, we will spend an afternoon unwrapping our ornaments and decorating the tree.  Nothing says Christmas to me like the beautifully lit tree and the fresh smell of pine in the house!  – Annie Lu (Top left)

I love getting together with family for a cold seafood lunch, which is refreshing as it is usually incredibly hot on Christmas Day in Melbourne, Australia! We will typically spend the afternoon playing cricket in the backyard before my dad dresses up as Santa to deliver presents to the 8 grandkids (on behalf of the rest of us adults). After, we sit down to a traditional Christmas dinner including turkey and ham and go to bed with a full belly!  – Lyndall Dakic (Top right)

As a child, every year my family and I used to drive to the cottage in the Laurentians (mountain area north of Montreal). We had a lot of spruce trees and my dad would cut one down (that I picked out) with a saw. The trees weren’t perfect like the farmed or artificial ones, but I always loved the whole experience. Now that we’re all in different parts of the world, we skip the Christmas tree but still enjoy each other’s company around a Christmas feast! – Olivia Budd (middle)

As I am Chinese, we don’t traditionally celebrate Christmas in China. However, in the past 5 years, I spent 3 Christmases in Amsterdam, Holland when I was working for Royal Dutch Airlines. There is special food like oliebollen and stollen which can only be bought during holiday seasons. Also my colleagues and I would buy seafood from Albert Cuyp Market and make our own Christmas dinner together. – Joanna Shan (Bottom right)

When I was a child, my dad always made up a story how Santa knocked on our door with a huge red bag full of gifts at midnight. Here’s what I remembered for the story.

‘After you fell asleep, I heard someone knock on the door very gently three times. I looked through the peep hole and saw a fat man in red. I opened the door and saw Santa standing outside our home, a huge full loaded red bag on his shoulder. He said ‘Is Qingqing (my nick name) Xiaopengyou at home? She is very well behaved and nice to her friends this year. So I am here to give her some gifts.’ Then he pulled out a huge stack of Christmas cards and some stuffed animals and put them into the Christmas sock hanging on the door knob. Then I thanked him and offered some biscuits. He left to Yaya’s (my neighbor) home.  –  Lynn Wang (Bottom left)

2) Northern Hemisphere of the Globe – a White Christmas?

Let’s fly to Europe!

The festive season starts very early, usually after Halloween (31st October) and Guy Fawkes Night (5th November).  I believe these three events together help many people get through the long cold UK winters, and keep their spirits high.

Christmas is a time where families reconnect.  A time where friends meet or reacquaint. Many large meals will be eaten with friends and
family, and many parties will be held amongst friends and work colleagues.  The air is filled with the sound of Christmas songs, whether it’s commercial ones heard ringing across the supermarkets, or traditional carols heard in the town square as part of many of the markets and choral events held over the festive period.  Christmas Eve is spent reminiscing of days passed, and making final preparations before the main event of Christmas Day.  Christmas Day is a day filled with the laughter of children, a day full of Christmas movies, and a feast of different food and drink.  The turkey dinner is the center piece of the event.  The day usually ends with a nap on the sofa for the adults, after listening to the traditional Christmas message from the Queen of course!  The next day, Boxing Day, is a day where family members traditionally gather and eat cold meats and pickles and enjoy many festive games. There is usually a full schedule of Premiership football on the TV, as traditionally matches are played on this day.  – Zaid Saleh, EAL Teacher – Year 6, CP Campus

In Cornwall, after waking up on Christmas morning, we get in the sea. My dad, my siblings and I, go and check the surf, and if it’s rubbish, we go for a swim anyway. Normally, my mum, and both of my grannies, will be preparing Christmas lunch while we are gone. There is nothing better, than getting peeled out of a wetsuit, and enjoying a full-English breakfast with the fireplace blazing once you get home! After breakfast, we open presents and play games, while the rest of my family slowly arrive. We always have a big Christmas dinner. We usually eat roast turkey, gammon and sea bass, and for dessert, you can’t beat a flaming Christmas pud!  – Joshua Williams, EAL Teacher – RP Campus

Christmas in my house is a big family affair! My Dad is Polish, so on Christmas Eve we have a delicious Polish dinner called ‘Wigilia’ and warm-up our stomachs for our Christmas Dinner the next day! On Christmas morning, we all go for a long walk together and then settle down for our traditional Christmas dinner. After dinner, we open our presents. There are quite a few of us, so we usually do Secret Santa and it’s always exciting to try and guess who your present is from! –Helen Szeliga, Year 4 Co-Teacher – RP Campus

In the Netherlands, Christmas is not our major winter celebration. The big celebration for us is Sinterklaas. At the start of the season when Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands on a boat, children can start to put out their shoes for a treat throughout the month. Once or twice is acceptable, more than that is greedy! On the night of December 5th “Sinterklaas” (Saint Nicholas) visits the homes of families to bring presents to the children. This is where the name of “Santa Claus” originates. For our Christmas celebration on December 25, we get together and we usually have a Gourmet Raclette. It’s a stone grill, but instead of putting everything on the grill, everyone has their own plate on the stove in the middle of the table! We take our time and have a long and lovely dinner together with our families. Mmmmm!!! – Lennart van Vlerken, Athletics Director

What I love the most about Christmas is the jolly and happy spirit! Everyone becomes so happy, so kind and polite to each other! I love the cinnamon smell, the German home-made cookies, the feeling of cold that announces the snow, all the Christmas songs and the beautiful decorations around the city. My favorite place to visit during Christmas time is Galeries Lafayettes in Paris, where people can see the moving toys in the shop windows! If you have not seen it yet, just picture the “It’s the small world” from Disneyland! Otherwise, being married to a Spanish man, our Christmas celebrations reflect those in Spain. The most anticipated day for the children is not Christmas Day but rather January 6th, when the Wise Kings bring the presents to the little Jesus! This is just a perfect combination for multi-cultural family reunions! – Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer

Let’s continue straight ahead to the US!

My favorite part of Christmas is the music. We listen as a family while we decorate our tree, while we wrap presents, and basically all times of day. We like to go skating and sledding to enjoy the “White Christmas” that covers Minnesota. It doesn’t matter what the main course is for the meal, all I care about is the COOKIES!!  – Ben Nakagaki, Secondary Mathematics Teacher, CP Campus


I’m from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA and the traditional Christmas dishes are posole (a stew made of hominy and pieces of meat with oregano and onions), tamales (corn flour dough filled with chile and pork) and biscochitos (sugar, cinnamon and anise flavored cookies). We also have other traditional foods like turkey, fudge and snowball cookies. One thing that is very unique about the holidays in New Mexico is the lighting of farolitos on Christmas Eve. These are small brown bags filled with sand and candles. When it becomes dark, the candles are lit and the farolitos are arranged in a path or a cross to welcome the birth of baby Jesus. This is a photo of my Dad and I wearing our favourite Christmas hats! – Andrea Griego, Student Support Coordinator

3. Southern Hemisphere of the Globe – a Christmas Barbecue?

Did you know that Christmas is not necessarily celebrated during Winter time? 
Let’s fly beyond the Equatorian line and discover about South Africa and Oceania! 

December in South Africa means summer holidays, family time, enjoying the beach, blue skies, hot and sunny days etc. This means that the traditional hot Christmas meal is not so popular and a lot of families will have a cold meal, or increasingly they will Braai (African BBQ with lots of red meat and a few salads thrown in). Christmas in July is also growing in popularity for those of European descent who miss the traditional Christmas celebrations in the cold. – Chris Perks, CCDD Division

It’s  SUMMER time in South Africa at Christmas time! Our Family comes together in a place called Morgan Bay, where my parents live in South Africa. So usually we eat a big meal the night before Christmas (24th Dec) around a big table and play games afterwards. On Christmas Day we hit the BEACH and eat left-overs from the night before. Food includes roast Chicken, Pork and Beef and a variety of vegetables. My Mother sets the table beautifully – it’s her favourite thing to do. I enjoy spending time with my FAMILY on Christmas day and remembering all the happy memories of years before, together.  – Nadine Fletcher, ECE Teacher – RP Campus

Christmas in New Zealand is great. In the morning we all open presents around the tree and tuck into the Christmas choccies for breakfast. If it is sunny, we will head down to the beach or go for a boat cruise and enjoy the warm weather. Then it is a BBQ for lunch, (Yes you can BBQ a ham!) with several types of salad and meat, topped off with a yummy pavlova for dessert. Then we spend the afternoon digesting lunch as we laze about in the sun, playing with Christmas presents and watching rubbish TV.  – Natasha O’Connor, K2 Teacher – RP Campus

Christmas for my family is one of summer days and sitting outside having food from early morning to late at night, going for a swim or cooling by the fans. The night before, Santa will visit the young children once they have gone to bed after watching ‘Carols by Candlelight’ or attending a church service with their grandparents. Christmas Day brings friends and family at any time to visit, there may be up to 40 people for lunch. We all sit outside on the decking having roast lamb/chicken and salads. After lunch, the children open their gifts and we spend time playing with them, and the adults laze around. In the evening, more friends and family will drop in for more food. I love Christmas with my family at home in Australia. – Veronica Martin, ECE Coordinator

4- Universal Christmas – The origin of the celebration
Do you know why Christmas is celebrated and where it really comes from?

Let’s fly back to China!

To me and my big family, Christmas is all about Jesus Christ, since traditionally it was set up to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. We celebrate Christmas through various ways: such as meditating His Incarnation for the world and His Salvation of people, preaching the gospel (The Good News About Jesus Christ) to people, helping the needy, family gatherings to share God’s blessings, and memorable Christmas Parties (hymns and holy drama etc.) . – Ivy Li

We have never returned home for Christmas because it’s too far and time too short to enjoy the holidays. We often take this time to travel around China and experience China’s spectacular sites. However, one of our family traditions for Christmas is to host our Chinese friends in our home and celebrate Christmas with special meal and fellowship. It gives us great pleasure doing this.  – Leo Lazo, CCDD Character Education Coordinator/Counsellor


A Tradition of Love and Charity

Written by: Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer

Love and Charity is not only alive in the YCIS Community, it is has become an active and ever-present part of our life at YCIS. Members of the whole school community are involved in bringing to life this key part of the YCIS School Motto. Let’s take a snapshot at what has been done already this first semester.

Event Name   People involved  Charity Supported  Action  Money raised 
POP Picnic & Bazaar  ECE & Primary Eco Committee (Teachers & Parents) The Million Tree Project Selling reusable straws and lemonade RMB 2,500
Year 6 Silk Road Topic Year 6 students Baby Home Sold items to Year 5 students RMB 3,200
Christmas Tree Lighting Parents and students Will Foundation Selling home-baked cookies, Cash donation from parents and Korean community,

Epermarket  and Sweet Ever After contribution through Advent Calendars and Christmas Gingerbread House Kits

RMB 12,464.80
  Secondary School Environmental Awareness Committee (Students) The Million Tree Project Selling tote bags RMB 3,000
Movember  Student Council The Renewal Centre Range of events including free dress days, fall-themed activities, bake sales and a VR experience RMB 20,481
POP Giving Tree  Parents and students Baby Home and Will Foundation Collecting goods, sorting and delivering to the organizations Donated goods
Primary Christmas Concerts & Assemblies

Thursday Free Dress Day

ECE & Primary Eco Committee + Secondary Environment Awareness Committee The Million Tree Project  Christmas ornaments


Proceeds of Free dress day (RMB 25/person)

 To be shared

These are just highlights of some key events of this first semester but what is very interesting to note are the two following points: 

  • Our school has become the heart for raising awareness about charity

Whenever our Parent Organization of Pudong has been involved, there is always a focus in promoting worthwhile causes. This has been evident at events such as the POP Welcome Gathering in September, POP Picnic & Bazaar in October, POP Christmas Market at the Christmas Tree Lighting in November, and the recent POP Giving Tree in December. Through these events, we have been able to support various charities. This includes Will Foundation and their aim to build an Eco-House for the children they are raising. Not only did they receive the support of our YCIS parents through the bake sale, but also from outside companies who partnered with us and donated a percentage of their sales to the Will Foundation. 

  • Our students have taken the leadership in running charity events

In the Secondary School, students have become the ones leading charity activities, especially through the Student Council’s initiatives and committees. An example of this is Movember, which initially started from a teacher’s personal involvement in raising awareness for the Renewal Centre to help homeless men and women. In ECE & Primary we have an Eco committee, run by teachers and staff. Secondary school takes this a step further. The Environmental Awareness committee is mainly led by the students themselves and supports Charities like the Million Tree Project, but also raises awareness throughout the whole school.

There is so much to cover regarding this topic that it can hardly fit on a page, especially considering that these charities are not only supported by the school but mainly by individuals. When an action has become a habit, and when a habit has been cultivated and shared with others within the same community, it becomes a tradition. And traditions are part of an individual so, wherever you go, you will see love and charity around you.

Christmas, a Great Opportunity to Create Family Traditions 

Written by: Tess Robinson

Traditions help build a community environment and values, no matter if they are cultural, social or religious. All of these impact on the identity of an individual. Christmas celebration for example is originally a religious celebration for Christians. However, even non-Christians have adopted this warm and caring celebration and made it a family celebration. Family is key for creating a special environment for your kids to grow, and parents and wider family can foster good habits and values through family rules and celebrations.

The pressures of adult work schedules and our students’ academic demands can often reduce family conversations to a to-do list. The holidays offer a unique opportunity to take time out to relax and enjoy special time with our families.

Over the years our family has cultivated traditions that we still enjoy.  Some of them we have been practicing since the boys were toddlers and some are new.  Regardless of when the tradition started, they bring us great joy. Wonderful memories are created over a lifetime. There is no single event that creates a close-knit family, it happens in iterations…giggles one year, participation the next, understanding the third and slowly, slowly to our delight, the boys have taken up our traditions and adapted them to fit our new lives.

In the early days (before two sons moved off to college), we kept a very regular schedule. Cookies were baked, trees were decorated and stories were read on the same days and the same time for 18 years.

But when Miles went off to college, the whole family found that it felt strange to carry on without him. That first year, we started early and he stayed up late and we continued with him on Skype. Just the four of us and a computer – Miles set up the Christmas tree, we lit the lights, put on the star and sang the songs that we have been singing since the children first joined our family.

The following year, Spencer too left for college and while Oliver, Bruce and I, started playing the Christmas songs as we always have, we decided that the traditions needed to be altered so that the whole family could still share in them together.

It has been Oliver who has taken the lead on the needed modifications, as each of the children has always taken responsibility for his part of the tradition. Oliver instantly knew what part he could do and which part he could wait for his brothers to complete.

The three of us now act as the advance team for holiday celebrations, we decorate the house, and set up the tree together, but instead of doing all of the decorations at once, we now invite close friends to string the fairy lights on the same day we always have and light the tree. The decorations, however, are left to be done as a family when all have returned. Similarly, we begin baking cookies on 1 December as always, singing Christmas songs and dancing in flour and sugar.  We bake every weekend and now when the boys arrive home from college their favourite treats are waiting for them.

Our simple traditions have been modified to fit our new reality, but by continuing to engage in the spirit, a real sense of anticipation and excitement is built.  By the time the college boys return, the stage has been fully set and the joys of the season overflow, we then start watching our traditional holiday movies and read (aloud) from our favourite books.

We now celebrate both Christmas and the arrival of our dear family together, thus making the season even brighter and happier than it has always been!

For more information, feel free to read about:

Student Focus: Meet Year 10 Student Kevin Du

Written by: Andrea Griego, Student Support Coordinator

Kevin Du, who is in Year 10, the first year of the IGCSE Programme at Century Park Campus, has found his passion for language and music in and outside of the classroom. Kevin, a former EAL student, is now leading the YCIS Media team, but also finds time to play and build his own guitar. Although very busy, Kevin was gracious enough to share his story and passions with us.

So Kevin, when did you begin school at YCIS?
I came to YCIS in Year 6, when I was 10 years old.

I hear you were once an EAL student. Tell us more about your journey to English proficiency?
Before I was in YCIS, I spoke Chinese all the time, and very little English. When I came to YCIS in Year 6, I was a terrible English speaker, and I avoided talking to friends and teachers, because I was afraid I would embarrass myself. Learning a new language was not easy, and it took me over a year to move to the mainstream English class. Thankfully, I had really encouraging English teachers who were very patient with me. They taught me a lot over the course of Year 6. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in English speaking now, but I’m definitely getting better.

What is YCIS media for those of us who don’t know?
YCIS Media is a team of students who provide the school with school news. Every Friday, we present a video to the school, going over events that happened during the week, as well as things to look forward to coming up. We often do interviews with students and teachers, take video footage from school events, and we always try to make our videos entertaining and connected with student life.

Wow Kevin, what a great accomplishment to lead this Media team. I hear you have another passion, music. How did you become interested in music?
I started playing the piano when I was 6 years old. I started learning the guitar in Year 6, and my music teacher taught me drums in recent years. I love playing music, I love listening to music, and the main reason for that is because when I’m stressed, it makes me more relaxed, and gets my mind off of homework and tests. I plug in my guitar and just play around with it. My music teachers introduced me to writing my own music, which is also loads of fun.

Your guitar seems to be very special to you. What was your inspiration for designing your own guitar?
Ever since I started playing the guitar, I got really into it, and I’ve been checking out different brands of guitars for years. It had always been my ambition to build my guitar. We had this DT project last year, where we could use bamboo to make anything we wanted, so I chose to build a guitar. I’m still working on it, but it’s definitely looking awesome.

Good luck with the completion of your guitar. Now for the most pressing question, tell us, what is your favorite thing about YCIS?
My favorite thing about YCIS, especially this campus, is that it is a very close community. I quite like this because you can know the people in your class better, and have more time with each of your friends. Each of us also receive more attention from the teachers, and we are provided with more opportunities in different parts of school life. For example, I am quite involved in the music department, and I am always given a chance to interact with music teachers, to play in a group ensemble, and to perform on stage when there is a concert.

Thanks for talking with us, but I have one final question: What is one thing that Primary YCIS students should know about Secondary?
So the one thing I want Primary students to know is that they shouldn’t be afraid of Secondary, because you start little by little, no one expects you to be an expert in Year 7. Secondary is a learning process. Just get as involved as you can, try your best in classes, and do the CCA’s that you enjoy.

Staff Focus: Suzanne Vert, K2B Teacher

Written by: Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer 

Suzanne Vert is a teacher in the ECE who was chosen to be interviewed for the digital library project she has started this year. It began as a goal she has set for herself within the K2 classroom and it seems that this is taking on another dimension. Let’s meet Suzanne Vert!

You just joined YCIS last year too, just like me! Please tell me what your project is all about.

The idea of this project is to incorporate technology and physical books. Initially, this was for my K2 students to help foster in them a love of reading. Also, it corresponds to one of the developmental goals of the Early Years programme that we follow in the ECE.

The principle is as follows: On a bookshelf of 10 books, the student can choose the book that they want and look for the corresponding audio on the IPad. They can just click on the image of the same book they have chosen and listen to the audio while holding and turning the pages of the physical book.

Let me show you an example with this book “Where’s My Teddy?”. This is read by three EAL students and they chose “STOMP STOMP” as a sound to indicate when we have to turn the page. This one of the 3 Little Pigs is read in Chinese and they chose a different sound of “PLING”.

When did you start this project? You have so many books already!
It started a couple of weeks ago. Kathleen Wu ( Primary EAL Teacher) had her students doing it in English and they have been enjoying it a lot. Also, as you mentioned students and parents got really excited with the project and this is why there are more Chinese books for the moment. Ms Shen had to take down her poster after 2 days since she received so many emails of interest and had to look for a book corresponding to the level of the child. Actually, she even chose some Primary books.

This project has taken another dimension as I am meeting with Dudley Stuurmann, the Secondary teacher who is in charge of Community Action Service (CAS) opportunities for Year 7 & 8 students and he was talking about students choosing the book of their choice and use Century Park Campus recording studio to read with performing voices. We’ll see how it goes.

Wow, so what is the objective? How many audio books would you like to have?
Well, I was discussing with Tania the Primary Teacher Librarian and she said some parents had been asking for audios. This seems to be a great opportunity! I would love to have a database of 100 books to create a listening centre for the kids during the ECE’s CCL, you know the Class Community Learning we started this year where all the children of the same year level come together.

Oh, I see…Ok, let’s talk about you now! You are American. Where from exactly? When did you arrive in Shanghai and what were you doing before coming to YCIS?
I’m from California. I came to Shanghai in 2006. Right after completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, I gained a teaching position at a Chinese Private School where I taught for 8 years before joining the YCIS team.

So after studying medicine, you began teaching…
Haha, yes it sounds a bit complex. It reminds me of my interview with Damien! When I came to Shanghai, I was hired for a position as a kindergarten teacher. However, when the school saw that I had studied medicine in university, they asked if I would be willing to use my background to teach Science. So, I first taught Science in 4th, 7th and 11th grade. However, after 4 years, I was still interested in working in Early Childhood Education and in 2010 began my journey with preschool children. In between, I had my two daughters and took some time off from work. I began working part time for the Community Center Shanghai in Marketing for special events and editing a bilingual cook book. I returned back to ECE in 2014 because I loved working with this age group. At the same time, I began to pursue teaching credentials for K through Grade 6 (Year 7) and graduated while I was teaching.

K2, this isn’t the easiest age-level. Is it difficult to cope with behaviour management?
Actually, not really. I am used to working with students and setting rules. For this age-level, schedules and routines are essential. Once they are clear about these, then they thrive. We teach students independence and we emphasise  positive behavior management. The children at this age love to be encouraged and rewarded when they make good choices and I’ve found that enforcing that behaviour brings out the positives in all the children. They are so eager and excited to learn that they quickly pick-up things. I am a high energy person and I love to make it fun for them so this is the perfect fit.

So how do you see your future? What is your plan now?
Coming from a non-educational background initially, I am eager to learn more and become a stronger teacher. This profession is incredibly rewarding because teachers are so vital in developing adults that feel empowered and can make a difference. Teachers that are continuously learning to create strong environments for learning are so influential.

This is the age that we begin fostering a love for learning. As an ECE teacher, we help children develop their minds by helping them to ask questions and look for the answers. This is where the process of growth mindset starts. For example, when they just pick a toy, we can be there to help them wonder why did they pick this toy? What characteristics does the toy have? What can they do with the toy?

As an ECE teacher, you learn so much. My main goal is to know if I am encouraging children to push themselves for discovery and answers. I also need to keep learning as I want to be able to provide tools to encourage children to do this. Sometimes, we may not know the answer and we need to take a path to discovery. If we teach children how to find answers, this is a skill that they can use for the rest of their life.

Teaching ECE children is so rewarding. At this age, children are inquisitive; they love learning. If we create a growth mindset, they will always have a desire for knowledge.

In one of our Professional Development meetings, we were shown a video that was talking about the future in jobs. They spoke about how the jobs available now will be gone in 5 years because of how much the world is moving forward. This was an eye-opener for me to realize that these kids will live in such a different world than what we know and that we need to foster the love of learning so that our children can adapt in the world of tomorrow.

ECE is an important time for children to start learning. There are no marks or grades at this time because we are focusing on the process that gets children to the finish line.  I really enjoy the approach the school has with the ECE because it allows children to explore and the teachers are facilitators. Our main goal is to support the children’s learning.

Thank you for your time. It was an amazing experience to talk with you. I am not only thrilled by the project you have started but I am also impressed by your life path and career choice. You proved to me again how we should not put people in boxes as every individual is unique and special.

My 12 Days in Chiang Mai

Written by: Costanza Cavalleri, Year 12 Student

My recent adventure on our school trip to Thailand was twelve days filled with a roller coaster of emotions. These ranged from the excitement of trying new things, such as finally finding out the results of our river study, to the fear of taking risks, like when we went zip lining, pushing ourselves off the edge of the high platform and sailing through the air, courageously exiting our comfort zones.

The EOTC trips, which YCIS Secondary students go on from Year 7 up to Year 10, and the Seeds of Hope trip in Year 11, prepares students for the Thailand Trip in Year 12 (by then, parents too are also prepared for their child being away from home for so long!) Ever since my first EOTC in Year 7, I have been impatiently waiting for the Thailand Trip.

The Thailand trip had activities which we had trained up for during the previous EOTC trips. The knowledge, sense of adventure, and commitment to serving others that we had previously gained all came together for one thrilling week and a half.

Starting the trip with three days of river studies, we applied our knowledge from the classroom in collecting data from river sites. The Biology students explored vegetation in the surrounding area of the river, whilst the Environmental Sciences and Societies students studied organisms in the river. The Geography and Physics students collaborated to measure the rivers flow, current speed within its dimensions. It was impressive to see so many academic disciplines coming to work together.

We then spent the next couple of days carrying out various other activities. The most impressionable one for me was definitely riding the elephants, as well as the unique experience of leading a veterinarian check on one of the elephants. We also learnt about the history of Thailand, broadening our knowledge and exploring a new subject for those who didn’t study History in IGCSE or IB. The trip ended with community service, in which we helped to renovate a local school’s kitchen, getting our hands and clothes very dirty. Thankfully, we were well fed for our hard work!

This trip not only helped us students grow as individuals, it gave us the opportunity to branch out and learn new things, bringing us together as a year group. We have bonded and created a strong support system for one another; we are more prepared than ever to help each other through the challenging year and a half ahead as IB students.

A Bridge to China and Chinese Culture

Written by: Cindy Zhang & Joan Chen, Chinese Studies Curriculum Leaders


Culture is an inseparable part of people’s lives, which influences our values, views, visions, lifestyle and the ways we communicate. At YCIS, we offer Chinese Studies along with Chinese Language as a bridge for students to learn about China, the host country, which has the longest history in the world. Our students learn to understand people’s cultures and language, promote engagement with others and shape their perspectives to support their future through a broader cultural and interpersonal mindset as global citizens.


In Primary Chinese Studies classes, students will learn about more than 10 different topics and will experience key aspect of Chinese culture every year.  For example, the celebration of Chinese festivals is the highlight in Year 1. While students in Year 2 will learn more aspects of the Chinese culture such as festival customs, ethnic culture, Chinese geography, traditional games, drama perception etc.  Students in Year 3 will start digging into the lifestyle of local Shanghainese and will have a field trip to the local dim sum shop and explore Qibao Old town. Building on the knowledge gained in Year 3, Year 4 students will learn about local traditional architecture—Shikumen, and will have the chance to visit the real Shikumen buildings and experience the lifestyle of old time Shanghai in the Songjiang Movie Park. Students in Year 5 will learn Chinese history in class, and will visit Jinshan village where they will be able to experience directly the villagers’ painting process. Students in Year 6 will learn about the “Silk Road Trade” and will go to the Shanghai Museum to discover the history of pottery.


In the Secondary school, this will continue with the EOTC trips (Education Outside The Classroom) that Secondary students take part in every year in Semester 1.


Finally, to complement our curriculum, we also organise two big annual events; namely our recent Chinese Culture Day last Friday and the Chinese New Year celebration. These events are great opportunities for cultural-related activities for students and teachers to experience the joy and excitement of their host country’s culture. This year, both our ECE and Primary students joined in the celebration. This day featured folk artists performance (lion dance, acrobatics, Chinese dance and Kungfu), making handmade craft, tasting local food, listening to traditional stories, watching traditional Chinese story animation, playing traditional games, and participating in various class activities. All the students and teachers were dressed in Chinese traditional costume and the students’ faces full of bright smiles showed that they had a wonderful day together.

Through these special events, our aim is to offer the opportunity for our students to know more about China and its Culture, whilst accumulate a wealth of their life experience.

Experiencing Music in the ECE

Written by Veronica Martin (ECE Coordinator)

For our very youngest children Music is a great tool for holistic learning. In one session outside, the children were given ribbons and music was played through the speakers. The children experimented using the ribbons to accentuate their movement through dance; developing their gross motor and co-ordination skills. They made big and small circles and sang: “Big, big, big, small, small, small”. Through this musical game, the children were reinforcing their understanding of the mathematical concepts of big and small as well as developing the vocabulary in English to articulate these concepts. Some social skills were also required as the children needed to be aware of others so that they did not bump into each other as they danced. They enjoyed watching each other expressing themselves through dance and started to get creative, each finding their own way to use the ribbon. That is just one of many examples, K3 children have been holding their baby dolls singing Rock-a-Bye-Baby while K4s learn about beat and rhythm.

Music helps children learn in a way that is fun and engaging. It is a great way to explore language for second and third language learners as they can explore different sounds, rhymes, and sentence structures as they learn new songs to familiar tunes. In ECE we often sing, “Everybody Wash Your Hands” “Sit down, sit down, sit down on the floor” “We are walking, going outside/to the gym/very slow.” Singing a song helps the children understand that there is a transition change and the repetition of the words helps to develop vocabulary.

In Music classes the teachers introduce many new instruments and give children time to feel them and explore the sounds that they can make on a drum, violin or even a triangle.  This allows children to be successful in playing their own piece of music; building upon success and giving children the confidence to move forward in their musical education.

Music is a very important part of YCIS life beginning at K2. Our Performing Arts Director Mr. Nick Adgemis oversees the programme with Ms. Diana and Ms. Jeannie working directly with the children. At times, some of our children also go to CP to perform in the Theatre or Mr. Nick will visit the ECE children to help ensure a smooth musical experience. The ECE children look forward to their classes with either Music teacher as together they build a strong foundation of musical appreciation and exploration.

iPads: A Transformative Tool for Learning

Written by/Contributed by: Daniel Horwood (Head of Secondary ICT) and Janelle Garrett (Lower Secondary Coordinator)

When we started planning our 1-to-1 technology programme, we started with the learning. At YCIS Pudong, our vision of successful learning is one where students are engagedcriticalreflective, and active. We believe that our choice of iPads reflects this vision, allowing our students to be engaged, to collaborate, to reflect in the moment, and to be active learners, both within and beyond the classroom walls.

All Year 7 to 12 students received their iPads in September, and have been using them to learn in class and at home since then. The ways in which teachers have been able to use technology to personalise and monitor learning, to allow for more collaborative projects, and reflection have been quite remarkable in such a short timeframe. As well as the iPads, CP has introduced Office365 and Microsoft Teams, allowing for instantaneous communication, feedback, and collaboration within classes. Teachers have been using a variety of apps to allow students to express their learning and creativity in different ways.

While the iPads are used daily in every classroom across the secondary school, we have chosen to highlight how the iPads have changed teaching and learning in our PE, Mathematics, and Art classes.

In PE, iPads have been used to help improve performance by offering immediate feedback to our young athletes on their performance of key skills. Using a delayed camera app, iPads stream footage of students to the big screen in the gym, which allows our teachers to focus on individual performances and offer feedback that is unique to that student. By seeing their performance, the student can really appreciate the feedback and visually see where they can improve. Above all, it also provides lots a fun, laughs, and enjoyment to our lessons.

Our Mathematics teachers love the iPads, not for the one super-cool lesson or the big “aha” moments, but for the everyday communication with every student with instant feedback. With the iPads and Desmos (a collaborative graphing app), our teachers can see each student’s ideas and students get to see each other’s responses to problems. There can be fun games attached to these moments, but a lot of times it can even be in the simple act of drawing a line to represent the data and explaining why you put it there. The iPad allows students to gather their thoughts where the teacher can read them privately and share them with the class when they really nail it. Alternatively, sometimes students’ ideas are way off, so, with a flip of a switch, the teacher can make their names anonymous and highlight a few issues to create a class discussion. We can look at student work to see if the overall understanding is there or if there is a need to have 1-on-1 conversations with individuals. In this way, students are better supported and far less able to be left behind in a particular lesson. The safety students feel from typing an answer rather than saying one aloud is a game-changer in our Mathematics classrooms.

In Art, all year levels use their iPads regularly to record and photograph ongoing and completed work. As student work on projects, they regularly save their progress in the Photo Library, creating a real-time portfolio. Our Art teachers are able to see all changes and evidence of reflection and refinements. It also makes thinking visible. Each student’s best ideas can be curated and printed for their sketchbooks, and an overview of their photo library can be used as evidence for assessment. Students also use apps to photograph drawn and painted work, and then apply more filters, which allows students to take risks by trying out new ideas before they rework the physical work. The iPads are also great as a generative tool for ideas working between digital and traditional materials. Having personal devices has transformed our workflow as everything connects more organically.