Swimming at YCIS Pudong

At YCIS Pudong, students are always encouraged to participate in different sports, and Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs), and many CCAs offer students the chance to utilise valuable life skills in a fun and competitive context. One such activity is the Swimming CCA. Students from YCIS Pudong have been participating in the Swimming programme for the last three school years, and, over this time, the programme has gone from strength to strength. As this is a competitive swimming programme, not swimming lessons, the focus extends well beyond the pool.

According to YCIS Pudong Athletics Director Mr Matt Uffindall, the progress of the programme is going swimmingly: “We now have a model that works nicely, and we have the coaches in place who are vital. We are producing a set of guidelines for the next academic year, which includes key details on how students can progress from squad to squad, athlete preparation including what the students should have in their kit bags, as well as what they should be doing out of the pool, including ‘dry-side’ training (gym work and cardiovascular exercise).”

One of the main reasons for the programme’s success is the excellent coaches who support it. YCIS Pudong has formed a key partnership with MultiSport, whose Head of Swimming, Coach Anton, has brought his competitive swimming experience to help our students. Coach Anton swam at the national level, representing Ukraine on the world stage. “Coach Anton has been wonderful this year. He knows what it takes to get to the top, as he has swum at four world championships. Coach Alex, his colleague, is also doing a great job!” said Mr Uffindall. “We have a fantastic relationship with the coaches. Any team sport is only as good as the people behind the scenes, and our coaches make such a significant difference,” he added.

One of the goals of the Swimming programme is the pathway to elite performance, which involves thinking about what can be done outside of the pool to build up overall strength, specific muscle groups, and cardiovascular endurance. The PE department and coaches are considering these factors so that students will have more personalised training programmes. Furthermore, the exposure to competition is going up, as the number of tournaments YCIS Pudong attends is increasing, as is the quality of the championships. The students now attend five Shanghai Swim League meets, dual meets between YCIS and other local schools (primarily aimed at the White Squad), as well as the ACAMIS competition, which YCIS Pudong students just attended for the first time. There is also the possibility of doing overseas meets in the future. Next year, the ‘Shanghai Cup’ competition will introduce a competitive friendly annual event between YCIS Pudong and YCIS Puxi.


The care and dedication to the Swimming programme have already started to show results. At the recent ACAMIS tournament in Suzhou, Year 6 student Kaan finished fourth overall in his age group out of 72 swimmers in total, which was an exceptional result. Considering this was the first time YCIS Pudong entered, this was a promising performance by all. Taking part in such competitions is valuable for students and helps them to develop a range of skills, both mental and physical. Analysing and listening to the experiences of elite performers can also aid students in getting into the competitive mindset.


It isn’t every day that students can go home from school and say an Olympian taught them, but before the Qing Ming holiday, students from YCIS Pudong were able to do just that. British swimmer Mr James Goddard visited Century Park Campus to participate in a fun but practical PE class with Year 6 students, where he emphasised the value of teamwork, planning, and organisation in several tasks, including crossing a ‘’lake of lava” on mats. Afterwards, he joined the Sports Science IB group to discuss elite sports performance. Mr Goddard represented Great Britain at the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic games, as well as winning multiple gold and bronze medals in the Commonwealth Games for 200m backstroke and 200m individual medley. The students heard personal anecdotes about competing in these elite competitions, and some lucky students even got to try on Mr Goddard’s official Team GB London 2012 Olympics jacket and his Commonwealth medals. Overall, this was a fantastic experience for the students to gain a personal insight into what it takes to perform at the highest level of elite sports in some of the most watched games on the planet.

All of these in and out of pool experiences are shaping the students and, according to Mr Uffindall, the foundations are in place for a bright future for the YCIS Pudong Swimming programme: “We’re at a point now where we’re starting to see the dividends. We are developing a routine now where we know the meets, the standards, and the qualities needed to succeed. We are engaging with the parents, and we can see the programme going from strength to strength. We intend to keep consolidating on the good stuff and keep building on it, as with all of our sports programmes.”

YCIS Pudong Students Receive Grants at 2019 ACAMIS Service Awards

At the recent 2019 Association of China and Mongolia International Schools (ACAMIS) Spring Conference Opening Session, five YCIS Pudong Year 11 students were honoured as they received awards and ACAMIS Service Learning grants for their two charitable project proposals. During the Opening Session of Day 2 of the conference, YCIS Pudong Co-Principal Mr Damien Hehir accepted the awards on behalf of the students.

The winning project bids came from two different teams who have taken on the responsibility to lead community service projects that have been up and running at the school for several years.


Students Hui Wen and Hui Shing worked together on their application for the ‘Shoebox Appeal’, which received a stunning grant of $1500 from ACAMIS. Hui Wen and Hui Shing will help run this annual campaign, continuing the hard work done this year by YCIS Pudong Upper Secondary student and Student Council Co-President, Shu Min. Launched five years ago, the Shoebox Appeal sees the school community come together at Christmas time each year to help prepare packages of toys and essentials for migrant children in need. According to Hui Wen and Hui Shing, the project links to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 1, which vows for everyone to have equal rights and access to basic services and resources. “We want to continue this initiative as we believe everyone deserves equal opportunities and access to basic necessities, no matter who you are,” said Hui Wen. The Shoebox Appeal is one of many ways YCIS students seek to give back to the wider community. “Some projects – like the Shoebox Appeal – help us to expand our leadership skills, but they truly help others, too, and I think that’s what YCIS really strives to do,” said Alex, who is also the current Co-President of the YCIS Pudong Student Council at Century Park Campus.

The second grant of $500 was awarded by the ACAMIS judges to fellow Year 11 students Ann, Alexandra and Mary, who will be in charge of organising next year’s MAD Run. The MAD Run – Make a Difference Run – is an annual fun run that was started by YCIS Pudong Upper Secondary students five years ago and involves YCIS students, parents, teachers, and staff running, walking, scootering, cycling, or even rollerblading around a 5km course near the YCIS Pudong ECE and Primary campus. Rather than being a competitive race, the MAD Run is a community event that gets people together for a good cause: raising awareness of cancer and partnering with a local charity to which the funds raised will be donated. For the 2019 MAD Run, the beneficiary charity group was More Than Aware, a healthy lifestyle support group based in Shanghai that empowers women to be proactive in the prevention of and recovery from breast cancer. For the 2020 MAD Run, Ann, Alexandra and Mary will be assuming the organising duties from current Year 12 students Nathan, Oi In, Stanley, and Vicky, who did a tremendous job organising this year’s run.


As part of their Community Action Service (CAS) learning which is a component of their studies in the Secondary programme at YCIS Pudong, students work on many communityservice projects. Mary recently shared her thoughts about being part of a school that values supporting those in need, saying “We do a lot of charity events at our school, and I think it’s imperative for us to understand that we are fortunate to be able to study at a school that values helping others.”

This year, Ann, Alexandra and Mary were also involved in service projects outside of Shanghai and even China, including a Seeds of Hope trip to South East Asia in the first semester. Ann shared highlights about the impact of this trip, saying “This year, we went to the Philippines to help with the construction of a new secondary school. We also helped at a maternity clinic, distributed food in villages, and we helped to build a wall. It involved much heavy lifting and was a very new experience. After we came back, we realised how lucky we are, and we were very grateful for our lives here because we know that other people don’t have the same opportunities that we do and we want to continue to help others in need.”

Both Ann and Mary also noted how participating in and overseeing service projects can help build students’ skills. “By applying for these grants, for example, we developed our organisational skills, and this is important not just now but also for our future,” said Mary. “Organizing a big event like the MAD Run will also help us in developing our communication skills,” added Ann.

From coordinating with sponsors, recruiting volunteers, and working with their teachers, planning for the 2020 MAD Run will start early, at the beginning of next school year. The students noted that they are looking forward to working with their CAS Coordinator, Mr Dudley Stuurman, on the event, with Ann saying “I think Mr Stuurman will provide us with fantastic guidance and help in organising the event because he already has so much prior knowledge. We truly appreciated his support when we first decided to apply for an ACAMIS grant because he helped share a number of important considerations, and I think this was instrumental in writing our successful application.”


It is clear to see that, with the help of the school, their families, and the generosity of associations and organisations such as ACAMIS, students can truly impact the lives of others during their time at YCIS Pudong. We look forward to hearing about the students’ success during the next school year as they oversee the 2019 Shoebox Appeal and the 2020 MAD Run, putting these significant grants to use to help others in need, and the many other community service projects that happen continuously at YCIS Pudong – a true hallmark of the school.

MUN: Changing Our World and Ourselves

Written by Janelle Garrett, Lower Secondary Coordinator

From March 13-17, YCIS Pudong students joined students from 60 different countries and schools from around the world representing Algeria as delegates at the 26thannual Beijing Model United Nations (BEIMUN) conference. With the theme, “Security, Sovereignty, and Sustainability: Pre-emptive Measures in a Changing World” students collaborated, debated and negotiated to try to build consensus around innovative solutions to complex global problems.  These world issues included: deforestation of the Amazon,  preventing cyberterrorism, establishing frameworks against corruption and asking new questions on human rights like reconciling cyber sovereignty with internet freedom.

Model United Nations (MUN) is a simulation in which students take on the roles of ambassadors to the United Nations, engaging in debate on real issues from the perspective of their assigned national identities, representing that country’s unique positions and values. Students learn to think critically about global issues as they try to come up with policies that are feasible, can get support, and can actually address the problems at hand. It is great training for life.

“Putting yourself in the position of actual diplomats helps you realize how difficult it is to really forge consensus and collaborate with other people. You meet a lot of people, learn a lot about teamwork and learn that as important as the topics are, so are relationships if you want to actually get things done.” Sam Lewis, Year 10

“At school, we’re constantly expected to memorize things to spit back out on tests, but life can’t be carefully planned and crammed for. MUN helps me develop the crucial ability to think on my feet and form cohesive arguments as I take in information. It’s hard because you don’t know exactly what is coming, but the more you do it, the better you get.” Isabelle Chang, Year 10

Jeffrey Tu, Year 9, appreciates meeting and spending time collaborating with older, brilliant students and getting mentored. He loves being part of the MUN community worldwide and making friends from different conferences. He also credits MUN with helping him with his public speaking and learning to be confident in his own voice.

“I like learning about what’s really going on in the world and not just what’s on the news, but what the underlying issues are and what we can actually do to solve these issues. I also like talking to different brilliant people who have interesting ideas and want to gain a greater understanding and look creatively at an issue from different perspectives. It makes me a better global citizen.” Jonathan Lim, Year 9

The keynote speakers, the Q & A session with the US Ambassador, and sessions with other guest speakers who are leaders in their fields from leading intellectuals, engineers, environmentalists, journalists, and activists really made the conversations and ideas at this MUN conference better, shared Jeffrey and Jonathan.

All in all, it was a fantastic learning experience for all involved, as expressed by Mr. Zaid Saleh (Year 6 Co-Teacher), who accompanied our YCIS Pudong delegation to Beijing, “the quality of debate was truly outstanding with each and every one of our students displaying excellent skills in writing and delivering speeches, to breathtaking rebuttal against a range of complex global issues, holding their own against older, highly experienced MUN delegates from schools right across the globe.”

This year students at YCIS Pudong will participate in five MUN conferences—each of these valuable and fun experiences that build confidence, speaking and leadership skills, develop a stronger awareness of global issues, and offer our students the chance be part of an incredible global community inspired to change the world.

Seeds of Hope Eyeglasses

Officially launched in 2011, Yew Chung Education Foundation’s (YCEF) Seeds of Hope service project plays an important part in YCEF schools’ commitment to character education, providing students at YCIS Shanghai with multiple opportunities to “align with love and charity” throughout the school year. Seeds of Hope projects include various school fundraisers in Shanghai, as well as trips across China and beyond, such as helping to fund schools in rural China to improve the lives of the students and volunteering at a medical clinic, helping to build a wall, and meeting students from a local school in a rural community of the Philippines.

A recent Seeds of Hope initiative has been to help raise funds and provide support for eye testing clinics and suitable optical medical treatment for children in Seeds of Hope schools across rural China. In coordination with Mifan Mama – a charity which aims to make ‘a real difference to real lives’ of children in China – Seeds of Hope representatives, Mr Chris Perks and Mr Leo Lazo from YCIS Shanghai, visited schools in Qufu, Xiuning, and Lixian, where over 600 students had their eyes tested.  As a result of the testing, 150 students will receive follow-up treatment, and spectacles will be given to those children who need them. Several children may also need to receive surgical treatment on their eyes, which will also be covered by the funds raised.

Without these tests, the students could have faced prolonged suffering and potentially long-term damage tot heir eyes. Mr Perks expressed his gratitude to all of the YCIS Shanghai community who had worked hard to raise funds for such a worthwhile cause: “Thank you for your valuable support and contributions to Seeds of Hope, which enables us to make a difference in the lives of students at the Seeds of Hope schools.”

Music for Change – YCEF Seeds of Hope Charity Concert 2019

Written by Nick Adgemis, Performing Arts Director

Can music change the world?  Among the performers and patrons of this year’s annual YCEF Seeds of Hope Charity Concert, there was no doubting the impact of the outstanding musical prowess on display and the elation of having the opportunity to make a difference with music.

The Seeds of Hope Charity Concert offers an elite selection of our music students a very unique opportunity; one that we were delighted to offer to fourteen YCIS Pudong students for 2019.  We were also proud to say that this number of student participants from YCIS Pudong made up the largest cohort of students from a single mainland China YCIS school at this year’s gathering.

The concert itself, this year hosted by YWIES Tongxiang on March 9, was the product of months of preparation and hard work from many students and teachers.  “This is the hardest music I’ve had to play,” exclaimed one of our orchestra participants, who exceeded their own expectations to complete an outstanding performance.   The concert was also performed in front of the largest audience of any Seeds of Hope concert in the past.

The entire YCIS Pudong community would like to congratulate every member of the school’s music teaching team and especially every one of our student performers for their contribution to this year’s Seeds of Hope event.  The concert raised money for the KIM project in which we are raising funds for the construction of a new secondary school in the Philippines.

YCEF Combined Choir 2019 – YCIS Pudong Representatives

Sophia Mille               Y10
Sarah Pan                    Y9
Daphne Cheng           Y7
Zoey Du                      Y7
Judy Feng                   Y7
Lily Kent                     Y6
Wendi Wu                   Y6

YCEF Combined Orchestra 2019 – YCIS Pudong Representatives

Hui Shing Chong       Y11
Hui Wen Chong         Y11
Ann Huang                 Y11
Hei In Lin                    Y9
Joseph Margolis        Y5
Noella Shin                 Y5
Matthew Margolis     Y4

Parent Initiatives and Support for the School Community

Written by Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer

As the African proverb says: “It takes a village to raise a child”. At YCIS we believe that our students’ learning should come from many different sources not just the classroom. One of the most important of these sources is from parents and the school community. Therefore, YCIS greatly values and appreciates input and contributions from our parents to support and work together to improve life within our school community.

Three examples of new parent initiatives to better our school community have really stood out this school year:

Lost and Found items: Improving the organization and maintenance of lost and found cupboards at both of our campuses

YCIS parents are always hoping that the students can become responsible for their own belongings and if they lose their things at school, we want them to find them by themselves. A group of parents from different countries worked together to observe how the lost and found box was utilized and organized. They discussed options to improve the lost and found box with the Parent Organization Pudong (POP) and Parent Relations staff. After trialing different home-organization systems to see how user friendly they were for students, an appropriate process was finalized and now with the support of the ayis, lost items are sorted by types, clothes are hung, and students can find lost things easily.

It was a good opportunity for parents to collaborate with the school and contribute to the improvement of our students’ school life.  The parents were able to bring their knowledge and skills to improve an existing school system originally established by the cleaning support staff.

Primary Creation Station: Providing an indoor activity during recess for Primary students

YCIS parents are always hoping that the students can develop their friendship circles, self-confidence, and creative skills at school. That is what led one parent whose child was new to school and a bit introverted to suggest hosting an arts & craft activity during recess time.  This had been a successful program at her child’s previous school.  After reaching out to the Parent Relations staff, her draft proposal was then taken to the Primary Leadership Team who examined the details and feasibility and suggested the parent leader to first run a pilot test during the Year 4 and 5 recess.  After several trials, great interest from the students, and support of parent volunteers (set-up/clean-up), it was then carried out through the other year level recess time on Wednesdays.

This initiative has enriched the weekly lives of our students. However, it is sustainable only if parents continue to volunteer an hour of their time to host it each week.

Chinese Painting, Sewing Clothes for ECE Dolls, and Chinese Tea

YCIS Parents and Guardians are always happy to support the school and school community. This is why after her 3rd year at YCIS, Chong Lao Lao (also known as Grandma) has been helping with three different projects:

  • She introduced her husband, Mou Yue who kindly offered his skills as Professor of Chinese Painting to our community by providing workshops to ECE children and to YCIS parents. In the month of April and May, a Chinese Painting club has been created with the support of two parent volunteers.
  • She is currently helping with a sewing project that was suggested by ECEcCoordinators to create clothes for ECE dolls that were initially purchased to support the ECE Life Skills programme.  Since last year, Grandma has shown her advanced skills for sewing by supporting the Seeds of Hope Upcycling Uniform project, parents had expressed an interest in learning how to use sewing machines. This was a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. This project still needs learners or helpers to finish up the 20 set of clothes for the dolls, so that ECE children can play with them. Another project sprouting is the upcycling uniform project. Volunteers are welcome and needed!
  • Before Qingming Festival Holidays, she kindly introduced us to a parent in the community who is knowledgeable in Chinese tea. Two sessions were already held in K4 classes and we are in the process of planning a workshop for parents, as well.

We welcome parents who want to get involved in the school by volunteering at one of our many events or by bringing new ideas to make a positive impact on the community.

Did you know about these existing services created by parents to support the school community?

  • School Uniforms: Donating, re-using and recycling school uniforms (a small team of parent volunteers have set-up a process for donations, sorting and recycling)
  • Second-Hand Books: Donating and buying second-hand books to raise money for charity (this is usually held during big school events or Parent Teacher Interviews at Regency Park Campus)
  • Second-hand items Wechat Platform: Creating a WeChat platform for selling second-hand objects
  • Moms that Care: A support group for the school community (parents who gather on a monthly basis throughout the year)
  • Girl Scouts:Gathering and providing learning opportunities for students to enhance their character education, leadership and cooperation skills (parent volunteers who lead small troops on a monthly or bi-weekly basis throughout the year)
  • Class Parent Representatives: to improve the flow of communication from teachers to parents and within each classrooms’ parent community.
  • Parent Organization Pudong: A group of parents who set-up major school community events with the support of parent volunteers

Remember that when you show care to others and to the environment you live in, you inspire people around you to do the same, and this improves the quality of the place where you are living or where your children are studying.

If you have any questions or would like to get involved in some of the groups above, feel free to email: rpcp.parentrelations@sh.ycef.com

What do we really understand about Gender Equality?

Written by Joey Wan and Zachary Ong, Head Prefects

Rosalind Franklin had a huge impact on scientific development, but as she helped to discover the double helix structure of DNA, she went largely unrecognised. Why? Because she was a woman. Over the course of the last month, we have sought to amplify the stories of some of the many, like Franklin, who have been undervalued in the course of history, with the goal that the women in our own community will be keener to stand up for things they are passionate about, and be valued for doing so. After all, if women are half, or maybe more than half the sky, then we really all need to live this out in our day-to-day.

As a Prefect body we put up posters supporting gender equality and held a hugely successful bake sale. The fundraising was one aspect of this success, but perhaps the most crucial element was the dialogue created by the pledge cards and photo booth, where our student body wrote promises to challenge stereotypes and bias. It was a fun activity, but underpinned a serious message.


The proceeds from our Bake Sale went to Days for Girls, an NGO that works to increase teenagers’ access to sanitary kits which empower over 1 million girls worldwide to go to school or work, rather than stay home because of the stigma attached to their period. Days for Girls works towards the delivery of quality menstrual care solutions, health education, and income-generation opportunities in needy communities. Their motto states that ‘when we mobilize girls and women, their communities and our world grow stronger.’ As prefects we believe that this was a very fitting direction for the proceeds generated in activities working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality and our Learner Profile Trait of Open-mindedness.

How to Talk to Your Child About Art

 Written by Anita Dai, Primary Art Teacher (Year 1 and 2)

The last week of March saw the red courtyard transformed into a magical and colourful gallery showcasing the artwork of the YCIS Pudong Primary students based at Regency Park Campus. Thank you to all the parents who came and supported the Art Show! We hope everyone enjoyed looking at all the delightfully creative pieces.  Also, an enormous and heartfelt THANK YOU to all the parents who volunteered their time to help with the mounting, set-up, and take-down of the Art Show. With your help, what seemed an arduous and ominous amount of work was easily and happily completed!

On the Wednesday of the Art Show, many students had the chance to show off their artwork to their parents after their Student Led Conferences.  Of course, most parents happily expressed how impressed they were and there were many proud photos taken.  Thank you to all for your enthusiasm!  In fact, this is a very special opportunity, not just to give positive feedback, but to help your child develop a healthy attitude towards learning and problem solving. How? When you engage your child in conversation about Art, the opportunities for extension are endless.

One of the best ways to begin a conversation about your child’s artwork is to ask about HOW he or she made the piece. This allows the child to go through a fairly neutral process of recall, which is a great way for your child to retain the learned skill. Take for example the Year 2 Secret Shadow Portraits.  The portraits were displayed on a rotating cylinder and were only visible some of the time.  Most students and even some teachers had no idea how it worked. Because the Year 2 students made the artwork, they could explain how the drawings were done on a transparent sheet, and they only appeared when the light inside the cylinder shone through and cast a shadow on the white paper in front of it. Challenging your child to explain that will truly imprint in their minds how light and shadow can be used to make Art.

After your child describes some of the steps for making the artwork, you might want to move on to a higher-order thinking question. “What do you think of your artwork?” It is important to allow your child to take the lead because then you will learn more about their thoughts and feelings.  If you go ahead and offer your opinion first, your child might be hesitant to point out what he or she truly thinks. Take for example the Year 4 Gustav Klimt Tree paintings. Your child may have certain parts where he or she struggled, but if you start the conversation by saying, “That’s sooo great!” he or she may not want to disappoint you by bringing attention to any weaknesses. Imagine, however, if your child felt comfortable explaining how difficult the brush technique was, how he or she had to change the pressure when using the paintbrush to make the swirls go from a wider width to one increasingly more narrow and ending with a point. He or she might show you the branches that were done first and point out to you how improved the ones that were done later.  This not only cements their learning of a new technique, it reinforces the growth mindset that is so important for all students.

Sometimes it is hard to approach these colourful and detailed paintings and not be amazed. Take for example the very professional-looking Jackson Pollock Action Paintings created by the Year 1 students.  Especially when we know it is a five-year old who created them, we are all extremely impressed. Remember, however, praising a piece of artwork as “good” or “beautiful” will not help your child develop a growth mindset. Receiving praise makes people feel so good, they become addicted to it and will be motivated to try to get more of the same. When someone makes Art in order to receive praise, it can reduce his or her creativity.  Instead of carefreely taking risks, the young artist becomes more concerned with the end product and how it will look. This leads to a copycat approach to making art. It can also end up with students drawing the same sort of thing over and over again.  Thus, instead of having the results of boosting your child’s confidence, praise actually increases insecurity and limits your child to only engaging in things in which he or she has previously experienced success. This does not mean you cannot provide positive feedback. On the contrary, positive feedback is very important.  It is general praise that is detrimental.  Specific comments are very helpful AND they make the child feel like a superstar.  For example, “The colours you chose work very well because it makes this area really POP out!”  This is the kind of useful feedback that the student can take and apply to a new piece of artwork. Alternatively, you can talk about the effect of the artwork, “When I look at this painting, it makes me feel very calm and relaxed.”  This has the potential to start an entirely new conversation about why, which colours or lines or shapes feel calm, which ones feel different and why . . . the possibilities are endless.

Sometimes when we look at Art, our first instinct is to try to find something we recognize.  As an evolutionary response, it is an automatic and natural instinct to try to identify and name what we are looking at. When looking at Art, however, it can be unhelpful and irrelevant to ask your child, “What is it?” If your child is trying to draw something representational and you do not recognize what it is, hearing that question will crush his or her soul.  If, like in the case of the Year 3 Aboriginal Art Dot Paintings, a parent asks, “What is it?” the question implies that Art is about reproducing an image so it is recognizable.  Representational Art is only one of the many ways to make Art. The dot paintings are another kind of art where the dots form different symbols which have significant meanings.  Thus, instead of limiting your child’s understanding of what constitutes art, consider asking your child, “What does this make you think of?” or “What is the history of this kind of painting?”

It is not easy to switch over to this type of reaction when looking at your child’s artwork. If you find it awkward, just make some appreciative noises, like “Oooh” and “Aaah” until you think of an appropriate question to ask.  The great thing is you can be as creative as you like when you ask the questions. Here are some examples of quirky questions that will tickle your child’s imagination.

“What would it feel like if you could climb into this painting?”
“What title would you give this painting?”
“Make a circle with your thumb and finger. Put the circle on your favourite part of this piece of Art. Explain why.”

Whatever question you choose, when you engage in a conversation about their artwork, students benefit in so many ways. They know you are interested in what they think. They have a chance to reinforce their learning.  They can extend their understanding of Art principles. And most importantly, they develop a healthy attitude towards learning where they understand that learning is a process that everyone goes through, and that the goal is not perfection, but improvement.

Staff Focus: Leo Lazo, CCDD Character Education Coordinator/Counsellor

 Written by Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer

If you drop-off and pick-up your child at school from the Primary gate of Regency Park Campus, the welcoming greeting from Mr. Leo will be familiar to you. Leo is a very well-known character among our students, especially in Primary for his entertaining and inspiring Character Education assemblies that he is leading for each year level on a monthly basis at YCIS. Among teachers, Leo is very well-known for helping with his photographing skills during school big events such as Founders Day or Sports Day.  If you have been on a Parent Seeds of Hope Trip, you might have had the chance to get to know him a bit more in-depth.

Leo is a manof many talents and so is his story withseveral different layers. Let’s meet and discover Leo together!

Leo, the focus is on you for this staff article, because I happened to overhear a keyword in a discussion you were having with some students in the corridor near the photocopy machine. It was at lunch time just after Chinese New Year holidays, you were sharing that you had been in the local newspaper! Can you tell me a bit more?

Well, I have been invited by my friends of the bus line 69, because my wife Melissa and I have been giving them a present for Chinese New Year over the years to show our appreciation for their work. You know public transportation is a thankless job. This is a service industry: people just expect bus drivers to do their job and bring them to their destination. Our family has been taking this line every day since 1999, so it’s a very long-term relationship (he laughs). For us, it is normal to give a little something when we can. Let’s say it is a bit like the Staff Appreciation Day that POP organizes every year with the help of YCIS parents to express their gratitude to all the staff of the school: from teachers to all support staff like ayis, bus drivers and security guards.

Hmm…I see. I just wonder how you figured out what they would appreciate. It’s already difficult to think of a birthday present for a friend or a colleague…

(smile) We listen, we talk with people. When we started to take the bus, we would just say hello, smile and say thank you. Little by little, with time, we started to have small talks. People like to discuss and share about their daily life or what surrounds them, just like children talk about their toys and friends or parents about their jobs and hobbies.

Also, you know giving tips is not part of the culture in China. Even when I was saying thank you, the drivers were answering: “it’s my duty”: people here are used to not expecting things. At the beginning, I was a bit annoyed by this answer, because in my language a common answer would be: “you’re welcome” or “it’s my pleasure”. I had to get used to this response and instead of being negative about this, I went with the flow. (smile)

However, when they open up, we seize the opportunity to help and give. For example, once we found out that one of the bus drivers had an accident and was paralyzed, that is why his wife was doing double shifts to earn more money. The next time we saw her we presented her with a Hong Bao with some money. As you can imagine, she refused at first but we are good at persuading people. She was very grateful for the gift. That is how we see when there is an area where we can help. I guess that food is always appreciated in any culture, especially during important festivals such as Chinese New Year or Christmas. We started with baked food where every driver and dispatcher had at least 2 pieces of cookies or cakes. Another year we gave a roasted duck to each of the staff of our bus line. It is normal for us as they are part of the community where we live.

Thank you for sharing, Leo. So, how many years exactly have you been working at YCIS?  Are you the oldest staff at YCIS? When did you start working for YCIS?

It’s difficult to say as I left and came back.  I’m definitely not the oldest staff YCIS has had. There’s another colleague at Puxi who started the same year as I did and we actually might finish at the same time. I started in Gubei campus in 1995 when it first opened. 1993 was the year the first YCIS campus in Shanghai opened, in Hongqiao.

Thus, the celebration of YCIS Shanghai 25thAnniversary this year! What roles or positions have you occupied? Have you always had a role of Character Education Coordinator / Counsellor? Why did you stay so long with YCIS?

Well, well. That’s a lot to answer in a row (laughs). I have been with Yew Chung all this time because the school has always been good to me. They have given me everything I needed and asked for. For example, I first took the position of a teaching assistant in Gubei even when I had been an English teacher at the university previously. Since the teacher I was assisting had allergies, I ended-up actually being in the role of the main teacher. So, when I later asked to become a proper teacher and I had my own EAL students for several years. At that time, since Gubei was not fully a high school yet, I later became a homeroom teacher and I got to teach computer science for Primary and Lower Secondary (laughs). This was in the early years when people did not have computer skills and I always have been interested by technology. I also had the opportunity to be sent for apsychology training: TOK (Theory of Knowledge), because the school was working on their accreditation for IB. At that time, I was the only teacher with a psychology degree and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counselling I had done in US South Carolina. Therefore, I got to teach theIB Psychology class. I then had to leave in 2005 to follow my elder son for his studies at the university, but I came back in 2009 and a new position was created for me under the CMED (Christian Moral Education Department, now called CCDD). The creation of Seeds of Hope came along at that time and that’s how I have been on board with the coordination of Seeds of Hope Trips around China as well as continuing with my role of teaching and developing the Character Education Program with the team.

Wow! Yes, that was a lot. Not easy to summarize. Thank you for all your time. That’s what we call the waves of life, right? It’s so interesting how your natural care of others, your passion for photography, your interest in travellingin China, as well as this aspect of charity and love through your Christian faith came altogether in this last position.

Actually, I’m grateful that I’m being blessed to have met and known the Chinese community during my student life in Houston in the US. They are the ones who taught me about faith and what it means as many of them were disowned for giving up their family religion. Although I was the only Caucasian, they accepted me as a member of their community and gave me the opportunity to do something when I had very little. And they never asked anything in return. I believe that is why my heart has always been towards the Chinese community and that I feel like this is my call here in China: finding ways to help and give back.

I have been blessed, not to keep for myself. Thus, everywhere I go I have these questions in my mind: “How can I help? What can I do?”

There’s so much more I would like to ask you: your involvement with Huge Grace orphanage, the special bond you have developed over the years with the students and families from Seeds of Hope schools, your other artistic talents, your views and experience in China, your life before joining YCIS, your studies, your origins from Cuba, but I’ll leave it to the people who are interested to know more to continue their discovery!

Is there anything you would like to share with the students, parents, teachers, community?

Parents: Let the kids be kids. Let them have fun. They have enough pressure. Enjoy them. Love them to death because there will be a time when they won’t be around. Make memories now.

If you listen to the lyrics of the song Cats in the Cradle from Harry Chapman, it says it all: Make time for your kids, whenever you can. Enjoy and do something that will build shared memories for you and them.

Students: Learn to appreciate what you have, because as you are grateful, you are going to be happy. You know, it’s hard to be grateful and unhappy at the same time.

So, if there is one message I’d like you to remember is: be grateful. Being grateful changes the heart. Being grateful changes perspectives.

Teachers: Every school has room for improvements.

I have worked with every Gubei Co-Principal. Some were great at starting Gubei but then it was harder for them to keep developing it. Every individual has their specialty.

As teachers, we need to build our network into the community. When we are part of the community, we develop common roots. If you don’t find roots, you are skimming along. Find a network of people outside of the school. Be able to follow your passion so that your work will thrive.

Thank you so much again, Leo. It has been my very great pleasure to interview you and I am so grateful that I was able to finish my “career as reporter” for YCIS Pudong Newsletter Staff Focus with you by discovering more in-depth the heart of Yew Chung and the meaning of YCIS Motto – Aligns with Love and Charity.

Student Focus: Rosanna Xu

Written by: Andrea Griego, Student Support & Wellbeing Coordinator


Year 5 student Rosanna Xu has established a routine here at YCIS since she began in Y2. She walks though the gates each morning greeting teachers, leaders, and students with a “Good Morning” and shy smile. She then continues with tremendous focus and a little fun throughout the day doing her best on her school work. Mr. Kitts says, “Rosanna is one of the most studious students that I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. She works exceptionally hard, listens attentively, and can produce exactly what you want of her (and more) the first time, every time.”Rosanna, being a top student, says her favorite school subject is Mathematics so you would never know she is also an extremely talented artist.

Rosanna says she began drawing when she was two and has continued with drawing and painting since. One of Rosanna’s artwork pieces was selected in a contest and she went to Japan to receive the prize. Rosanna’s mother says, “I have just been supporting Rosanna with developing her interest in art, but never really pushed her to take part in any competition.” She also said that because her daughter was so passionate about art, she just provided a space for her to develop her interest.

Like a true artist, Rosanna is somewhat of a perfectionist and employs a Growth Mindset to remind herself that it’s okay to make mistakes and have a ‘work-in-progress’. She loves to produce ‘the final product’ and strives for it to be the best it can possibly be. This attitude contributes to her talent as an artist, creator, designer and student in general. For Rosanna’s last birthday party, she decidedto have her very own Art Exhibition. This included painting and drawings from throughout her life. During the party, her friends were given the opportunity to explore their passion for art as well.