YCIS Pudong Community Gets into the Christmas Spirit

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…at YCIS Pudong! Last Friday evening, students, families, and school staff gathered for the 5thAnnual Christmas Tree Lighting event at the school’s Century Park Campus.

At the event, guests were treated to festive musical performances by students from Year 2 through Year 13. From a medley of Christmas tunes by the Senior Jazz Band and Piano Ensemble to skillful vocal and instrumental performances by the Junior Choir, Orchestra, and ‘Sinfonia’ and ‘Voices’ groups, attendees were dazzled by the students’ talents. The evening also showcased the tremendous abilities of the Stage & Show Band, spirited rock bands, and the always-popular YCIS Pudong Parent Band.

Students and families enjoyed perusing the various stalls of the Christmas market organised by the Parent Organization Pudong (POP) and supported by Parent Volunteers. Local vendors, charity organisations, community groups, and students showcased a fantastic selection of arts, crafts, and gifts, as well as a wide range of delicious foods.

The festive atmosphere continued with fun activities organised by, and for children! The Girl Scouts sold cookies, Christmas decorations, and jewelleryto raise money for the charity organisation Heart to Heart. There was also a face painting booth, art and science activities, as well as a ‘Buy and Sell’ corner, all run by parents. Year 13 students organized a charity auction for bamboo bicycles they had built as well as a clothing drive for the Renewal Centre, in support of people in need. And the Primary Student Council designed and distributed their Christmas Card wishes to attendees, adding to the holiday spirit.

Finally, for the youngest members of the YCIS community, there was a toy exchange, a Santa Photo Booth, a Kids’ Corner, and a Lego Building stall among the many other fun activities they could enjoy at this year’s Christmas event.

Holiday events like the Christmas Tree Lighting celebrations at YCIS Pudong bring the entire YCIS family together, spreading a joyful Christmas spirit within the community.

Cambridge Learner Awards for YCIS Pudong Students

The China Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards ceremony takes place each year and serves to recognise the students in China who attained the highest marks in the country and around the world in examinations through Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), which is part of the world-renowned and prestigious Cambridge University in England.

Earlier this school year, the YCIS Pudong community were ecstatic to learn that two YCIS Pudong students were due to receive awards at the 2019 ceremony. Year 12 student Alexandra (Alex) and YCIS Pudong IGCSE Coordinator Mr Ian Lee, as well as YCIS Pudong Co-Principals Mr Damien Hehir and Ms Mary Yu, went to the event held in Shanghai to represent the school and to collect the awards.

Not only did Alex receive an award for the highest mark in China for IGCSE Design and Technology, but she was also given the honour by Cambridge of giving the keynote speech to Cambridge representatives, her peers from schools across the city, and all of the educators and family members in attendance. “Being invited to speak at the Cambridge awards ceremony was an honour I’ll never forget, and I was thrilled to receive my ‘Top in China’ award in recognition of my hard work,” said Alex.

Mr Lee also took to the stage to receive an award on behalf of former YCIS Pudong student, Armand, who relocated this past summer to Europe with his family. Armand spent eight successful years at YCIS Shanghai, Pudong and it was a fitting tribute to his time at the school for him to be awarded a High Achievement award in China for IGCSE Foreign Language French, which Armand undertook with the support of YCIS Pudong Secondary teacher Ms Alison Walthew as part of the school’s self-taught language learning option.

Mr Lee later reflected on the awards, saying “It is an astonishing accomplishment for a student to be recognised as achieving the top exam mark in their subject in the country. We are very proud of Alex and Armand, and I would also like to offer my congratulations to the other award winners and the teachers who got them there.”

This is the 10th year in a row that YCIS Pudong students have been recognised by Cambridge at these awards as having some of the top students in China and the World. Whether moving on to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at the school or taking their learning to new countries or back home, YCIS Pudong is incredibly proud of its students. The school community can look back with admiration at a decade of excellent international academic achievements and look forward to hearing of more successes in the future.

To see more of Alex’s story and hear about the decade of Cambridge awards earned by students at YCIS Pudong, please click here.

Building Relationships with Learning Communities in ECE

Written by: Suzanne Vert & Debbie Pedraza, ECE Co-Teachers

At YCIS, there is a large focus on community, how we learn and grow together and creating many opportunities for all students to build meaningful relationships with shared learning experiences.  In the ECE, K2, K3, and K4 students come together once a week in an open, safe space to share valuable experiences and to engage with one another during vertical learning communities.  A learning community provides our young children the opportunity to work in collaboration and to learn from each other through open-ended and meaningful play. For example, older students may set up an obstacle course outside using a variety of ramps, which the younger students may then use to experiment with rolling different sized balls.


This activity has the potential to allow the older children to model problem-solving strategies as they readjust and modify the ramps in the obstacle course for the benefit of all of the participants. Prior to each learning community time, a team of six K2, K3 and K4 teachers work together to plan which resources and activities will be available in each indoor and outdoor play space to develop language, meaningful relationships, creativity, collaboration and problem solving.  For example, in the construction area, wooden blocks, magnetic shapes, and toy animals may be available so children can work together to create a large world using the resources.

During this learning experience, children have the opportunity to practice their language and social skills by encouraging their peers to join the play by handing them resources and by sharing their ideas.  When ECE Learning Community time is over for the day, all of the children take responsibility and work together by tidying up the resources into the proper areas and containers, so that the space is ready for the next group of K2, K3 and K4 learning community members.


‘Season’s Readings’ from the Library

Written by: Tania Jordan, YCIS Pudong Teacher Librarian

January 1 is quickly approaching, bringing with it the opportunity to make New Year’s resolutions for 2020. What better resolution than to read more often with your child and if your child is older, to encourage your child to read more often by themselves?

Online Reading: Tumblebooklibrary.com

Travelling during the holiday brings with it the challenge of finding a book to either enjoy again and again or finding one book that will last the whole break. Online reading is another way to tackle the challenge of reading while away on holidays.

Take a look at tumblebooklibrary.com by either accessing the website version or downloading the app on your phone or iPad. The database has tabs to choose from, such as Story Books (these are animated picture books), Read Alongs (chapter books for developing readers) and E-books (full length chapter books for Year 5 and up).

For younger readers, do a Tumblesearch at the site/app using these titles to look for these seasonal picture books:

  • Mia’s Nutcracker Ballet
  • Olive the Other Reindeer
  • ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Tumble Book Login details

Username: ycispudong
Password: reads

E-book recommendations on the Tumble Book Library database

Kate DiCamillo: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Year 3-5)

Edward is a stuffed toy that travels through generations of owners, sometimes loved and sometimes neglected. His difficult journey teaches him important lessons and eventually he travels full-circle.

Kathleen Cherry’s Everyday Hero and Robin Stevenson’s Impossible Things
(Year 6 and up)

Both these books feature main characters who are struggling with friendships at school. In Everyday Hero, the main character has Asperger’s syndrome and she is used to finding it difficult to fit in. In Impossible Things, the main character is so desperate for a friend that she is willing to believe the impossible.

Print books in the libraries

For those not travelling, take a look at these reading recommendations to start your child’s year of reading in 2020:

From the ECE Librarian:

  • Can I tell you a secret? by Anna Kang

The endearing secret of a frog (spoiler alert) who can’t swim!

  • A Creature was Stirring, by Clement Moore

The classic Christmas poem in rhyming couplets.

From the Primary Teacher Librarian:

  • The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt (Year 1-3)

The hilarious sequel to The Day the Crayons Quit, which parents should enjoy just as much as kids.

  • Ada Lace, by Emily Calandrelli and S.W.I.T.C.H, by Ali Sparkes (Year 3-4)

Fast-paced chapter books that will have young readers glued to the page.

  • Small Spaces, by Katherine Arden (Year 5 and up)

For those older kids who are thrilled but not scared by spooky stories.

Wishing all families a happy (reading) holiday!

My Experience of Unique YCIS

Written by: TSE Man Shun Daniel, Y10 student

One of the unique things about YCIS is its focus on bilingualism. In YCIS Pudong, we emphasise English as well as Mandarin. All primary to lower secondary students have the opportunity to discover about Chinese culture through Chinese Studies and have the privilege to learn Mandarin. When I first arrived here in 2010, the only language I knew was Cantonese. Thankfully, my teachers and classmates helped me adapt. I have grown over the last few years as a good communicator and linguist, having studied English, Chinese and Spanish. Today, I am studying First Language English and First Language Chinese for my IGCSE courses. It is a great challenge, but I believe the school will support me in my learning.

Another one of the unique things about YCIS is the class sizes here are relatively small. Due to the small class sizes, the teachers here are able to nurture and help individual students. Studying here is not like a public school where teachers have to deal with 40 students; it is more like being inside a tutor group. For numerous times, I received help from my teachers. I had the privilege of meeting up with teachers and having one-on-one tutor lessons on anything that I did not understand. If I studied at a school with bigger class sizes, I believe that teachers would not spend as much time helping me.

I really appreciate that YCIS cares a lot for its students.YCIS has not only nurtured my academic abilities, but also my interests. Since I was exposed to a wide range of Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs), I was able to develop my interests. Today, I participate in 5 different CCAs, all of which I am passionate about. YCIS Pudong has recently renovated the Learning Communities in Century Park Campus. This is an area that is very comfortable for primary and IB students to study in. The school also has a child-safety team, consisting of several teachers that are responsible for the wellbeing and safety of students.

It has definitely been a pleasure studying here at YCIS for the past few years. I had the privilege of experiencing the school improve and change. I believe that YCIS is a truly unique school, and I am grateful for the opportunities provided here.

Every Small Action Matters

Written by: Roseline Yang, Parent Relations Officer

In the last Newsletter we talked about first sprouts. Three months have passed since we set our wish for the 2019-2020 school year …To engage everyone and to build a community where everyone finds their place of comfort, regardless of our origins, gender, age, experience, life-style and language.

Looking back now, it seems that our seeds of hope have taken shape and actually some of our million dreams have already taken place, without even noticing. This could be due to the fact that I was just a simple participant/liaison or because it wasn’t a first-time experience; but, I truly feel that this is because there was a shared vision towards which we have been driven:

  • The Wellbeing Theme of ECE & Primary Book Week felt like a real success where even students and parents of Secondary were included and joined the sessions with author Julia Cook. There was even a rap composer and book author that came that week just for our Secondary students.

  • The two very engaging Parent Coffee Morning at CP and RP. One was about the Life Skills Programme in Secondary School where parents got to practice self-defense skills, and the other one involved testimonials of two parents for the topic of Celebrating the Differences in our Children during Autism Awareness Week.

  • The Parent/Child Seeds of Hope Trip to the Bo Ai school in a rural area of Shanxi Province was unforgettable and breathtaking – it has definitely left each of the participants with a profound and inexplicable bond with one another and that place.
  • The three Parent Talks in Chinese (where I had to consider translation in English) were very well attended because the guest speakers were introduced by our YCIS parents themselves: One was a one-day training about Relationship Education, another was a morning about Chinese Learning and Reading Strategies and the most recent one was the sharing of an awarded Chinese Tea teacher.

  • The Parent Art Workshops Series on Wednesday for Parent Helpers this semester
  • Two Parent Potlucks, one for parents to connect and socialize and another for farewells

  • A meeting for Parents of Class Representatives took place with our ECE & Primary Vice Principal to further develop the partnership between school and parents in term of communication.
  • Three internal trainings for Parents Volunteers also took place to build technological, interpersonal and cross-cultural communication skills that are essential for leading or working in teams in our multicultural environment setting.
  • School committee meetings involving Parent Experts & Volunteers e.g. food service, service learning and CIS accreditation (upcoming)

What was noticeable for me was the execution of The Christmas Tree Lighting and Giving Tree that recently took place, because they were bigger scale projects, which involved a wider range of people: Community Partners, POP (Parent Organization Pudong) and Parent Volunteers, YCIS Girl Scouts as well as the Academic Teams such as the Performing Arts Department, Class Teachers, Student Council and CAS Coordinators .

Every individual who has joined a group is starting to get a better understanding of the group they are part of and get a sense of its contribution to the bigger picture.

When each cell is marked with a common intention, each member moves towards a common direction, as a result the whole body flows in a more harmonious way and it moves faster in the water. This is a representation of how our Parent Organization Pudong has been evolving thanks to each of its members.  No matter what you do or think of, this has an impact on the whole organization and each member of our school community.

We are now in the busy period of Christmas celebrations and the multitude of elves that are YCIS parents and staff from the school’s Support Division have industriously helped behind the scene with the set-up of Christmas trees and Christmas decorations for the classrooms, as well as, for the outside alleys at Century Park campus for the Christmas Tree Lighting! Not to mention the parent elves that helped with the backdrop of the theatre and the costumes for the Primary Christmas Concert performances. These elves are now busy working to support the class teachers to organize the Christmas parties for the ECE & Primary classes. And all of these associated efforts are aiming at one common goal: The happy learning environment of our children, for them to be inspired and flourish.

The seeds and the sprouts have become plants and I cannot wait to see how the garden looks at the end of this school year in June.

If you read Daniel Coyle’s Culture Code about the Secrets of highly successful groups, you can quickly identify that by being committed and engaged, we as parents partnering with the school are creating this environment where innovation flourishes, problems got solved and expectations are exceeded.

Remember that you are always welcome to join and dive in (contact: poppd@sh.ycef.com).  The upcoming events where parent involvement, support and participation is needed are:

  • Friday, January 17 – Parent Performance during Chinese New Year Celebration
  • Wednesday, March 18 – Staff Appreciation Day
  • Saturday, April 25 – Spring Charity Event
  • Saturday, May 23 – Global Child Day including International Food Days provided by Eurest (Greece in January, Arabic in March, and Thai in May)

What is Dressember?

Written by: Anna Gavine, Year 2 Co-teacher

What is Dressember?  That’s what I asked the first time I heard about it. Then a very good friend of mine explained: It’s a way that thousands of women (and men) are advocating around the world to speak up against the injustice of modern-day slavery.

Basically, each year people sign up to wear a dress or tie for the 31 days of December. How does that help? Good question. It mainly serves as a way to start a conversation about the issues that are going on in our world today, such as forced child labour. For someone like me, who is completely out of her comfort zone wearing a dress, I would hope that people would notice and want to know more about why. By starting the conversation, and having it at a time of year where giving is on people’s minds, we hope that it will inspire and ignite others to join in and donate to help fight to free the millions of people who are trapped in modern slavery.

We are the ones who can speak up for the voiceless, and raise awareness of this appalling issue that is affecting women, children and men across the globe. Dressember is changing people’s lives by having programs for the prevention, rescue and aftercare of victims in this industry.

The main vision: A World Without Slavery.

Our motto here in Shanghai: Until All Are Free.

If you would like to know more about Dressember, visit https://www.dressember.org.

Some of our teachers have decided this year to be advocates for the cause; to step out of our comfort zones and comfy pants and wear a dress everyday. If you see one of us, let’s have a conversation. We believe that together, we can change the world by changing the way we dress.

A Journey Into Another Dimension

Written by: Roseline Yang, Parent Relations Officer

In November, our two Seeds of Hope Coordinators, Chris Perks and Leo Lazo took 17 families (including 17 parents, 19 children Primary and Secondary children) and me, Parent Relations Officer, on a Seeds of Hope Trip to Shanxi Province for 4 days. It consisted of staying at a school located in the village of Feng Cun for 3 days and one night in the Ancient City of Pingyao, a city that belongs to the World Heritage of the UNESCO.

This was the first time YCIS Pudong families visited this location but this will surely not be the last time because the story shared by Christine, the founder of the BoAi school touched the heart of every single participant, young and old. And according to the letter sent by the director shows this was reciprocal.

This picture makes me smile as this is a snapshot of a moment that reflects how close and supportive of each other we have become: Joshua coming to help Joey reading and translating the long Thank you letter to Chris who does not understand a word of Chinese. – Roseline Yang, Parent Relations

The whole school environment created by Ms. CHEN. She is a very respectful lady who had dedicated 14 years in such a remote place. The kids and teachers were very active in embracing new things, which is also very impressive. – Janice

 What impacted me the most is Christine’s educational ideas was changing the village students lives.- Vivian

 The way BoAi school operates and manages is very impressive. It differs a lot from the so-called Hope School. –  Karen

So much of the world, happiness is everywhere.– Pansy

Below are key points that help give a snapshot of this Journey into Another Dimension.

  • The values of the school were lived by the students and teachers at the school and our YCIS families also got to experience living in their positive culture.

I feel so lucky having the opportunity to join a SoH trip every time returning from one, arguably each time more so than the last. The BoAi school and students are truly unique. Once again, I’m very impressed by the manners and friendliness of the BoAi students and school, and am very much aspired by Christine’s story.  I think the elements of doing chores (sweeping floor, washing dishes) was a very good practice to follow.  Lastly I think Chris’ repeated emphasis of being flexible was the most self-proofing advise. – Michael

I am impressed with the school culturethe high quality of school faculty team and students. -Tracy

  • The bonding among participants through the involvement, preparation and participation during the classes:Before the trip, parent participants met several times and gathered as a team of 3/4 families to prepare lessons and activities that would be delivered on site. During the trip, 5 groups interacted with 6-7 different classes with various activities featuring rhyme and songs, arts and crafts, science project, math and fun PE lessons where every student had an active role during the classes.

I had a chance to teach the kids and to be a good teacher. -Year 4 Annie  

The major responsibilities for kids and parents in this trip were taking lead in teaching ECE and primary students. They were fully immersed in the local school life other than just visiting. I have been looking forward to take part of Seeds of Hope Trip and I was glad my son was old enough to join this year. – Karen 

I enjoyed interacting with the Bo Ai students in small groups. When we did the math activity, the kids broke up into groups of four and I stayed with just one small group to help them. I felt that I was able to get to know them and they were able to get to know me. – Anita

I learned so much and really bonded with Micah. – George

A remarkable family trip for us, thank you! – Janice

I learned a lot about the culture and history of the region and I taught some children at the SoH school. My goal was to make some new friends and learn about the lives and history of people in Shanxi. – Year 8, Daphne

Daphne was great. She showed a lot of leadership, she led all of the lessons and the rest of the boys were there helping. She didn’t give up when things didn’t go according to plan. And she was friendly with everyone including my daughter. She’s absolutely wonderful in every way. – Amy Chu

  • The stay at the school included the visit of the different classes, dormitories of students and teachers as well as the walk through the village to see how the local people live, including those living in caves.

The school is really great. The kids are smart and warm. They clean their school, dorms and dining room themselves. The teachers are so great. And the dean and her husband are so kind. We respect them so much! – Qiang

 The food over there was great! – All kids and parents agree

My favorite moments were when we went to sweep the tennis court and when I played outdoor games with the kids of BoAi school but also with YCIS students who made me run and laugh a lot.  – Roseline Yang, Parent Relations

  • The one night stay in the Ancient City of Pingyao included the Youjian Pingyao Show, a 5D approach of theatre and live performances as well as the exploration of the ancient city the next morning.

I find the SoH  trips always very meaningful for myself and my child. We enjoy interacting with the kids at school, understanding their school environment. The proactivity and positivity of the kids impressed us. Having a day at a famous tourist site at Pingyao was also nice. Thank you for the very meaningful trip! It has also been great traveling with everyone! -Gerline

I had come to Pingyao 20 years ago and it was great to see how the city has developed but at the same time some natural space has been lost. As we stayed one more day, I got to interact with the locals. They explained how lucky we got because during holiday time, the Ancient City of Pingyao is packed. – Biwei

  • What made this trip so special is definitely the positive attitude and mindset that people had when joining the trip which was cultivated further by the organizers.

My children and I cannot thank you enough for such an amazing trip. We have such a completely different experience this time compared to two years ago. A totally different perspective in some ways. Thank you for opening our eyes ! And thank you to Gerline and Alexis for taking care of Alison for me for the bulk of the time.  -Amy

 Thank you all! You all made the trip memorable! -Leo Lazo

  • The great organization and inspiring guidance from the organizer

What a wonderful experience! Thanks so much for arranging this! I truly enjoyed every moment of it, thanks again! – James

Thank you very much! You gave us such an amazing trip! – Shirley

 Very grateful to join this meaningful trip and appreciated your organization and help. -Vivian

 Thank you so much for organizing such an amazing event. Both Lucas and I learn a lot from this trip. We enjoyed it so much and cannot help attending the next trip! – Qiang

Jake and I learned so much and enjoyed ourselves immensely at both the school and in Pingyao. Thank you for organizing such a valuable experience for all of us! – Anita

This will be an unforgettable experience for us.  Thank you for all you have done for us! – Lyn, Alex 

It is only after digesting each bit of information that one can manage to understand this sentence summarizing what Seeds of Hope is:

Seeds of Hope is a service-learning co-curricular program for all Yew Chung International Schools and Yew Wah International Education Schools. The mission of Seeds of Hope is to teach compassion and charitable service, aiming to nurture our students as Servant Leaders. – YCIS website

Read more about Seeds of Hope through testimonials and articles by clicking here.

If you want to know more about Seeds of Hope trips, please contact Chris Perks, our School Chaplain at: chrisperks@sh.ycef.com.

Staff Focus: Anthony Yu

Written by: John McEnhill, Primary Coordinator

Welcome to YCIS, Anthony! I hope you have enjoyed your first Semester here. Can you tell us a little about your background, and how you have come to be at YCIS Shanghai?

I was born in King William’s Town in South Africa. We later moved to Cape Town where I spent most of my childhood. Life there was very simple: rugby, braais (BBQs) and books. After completing my first degree at the University of Cape Town, I wanted to travel. I began touring several countries and landed in Shanghai. An expat friend who worked at a language school called in sick one day and asked me to help. That’s where my passion for teaching began: in a classroom full of screaming kids. From there I progressed my teaching at universities around Shanghai. I then decided to return to school and went to Edinburgh University where I received my PGCE. I returned to Shanghai again and taught a few more years at universities. After settling down with a family, I decided to move into high school teaching and taught at a bilingual school for several years before joining YCIS this year.

As an English teacher, you must be passionate about all things language and literature? Why do you think the study of these is still relevant and important in the 21st Century?

I believe that reading is the greatest form of luxury in the 21stcentury. At least that’s what I keep telling my students. I’m truly blessed that I’m working at a school where students are given time and encouraged to read, and more importantly this is cherished by the students and faculty alike. There is immeasurable power in reading literature. An enthused reader develops a keener sense of the world. A strong grasp of language allows readers to develop a sensitivity for interpreting ideas into knowledge by means of communication. So yes, it’s rather important for our kids to see value in language and literature.

You have made quite an impact coaching the senior basketball team, who are top seeds for the upcoming cross-river tournament, and recently beat local rivals Concordia. What is the secret to your success?

We are the number 1 seed from Pudong and based on scouting reports the German School DSS is the strongest contender from Puxi. The secret to our team’s overall success is that we are not complacent over our wins. We treat every school as a contender, and that’s what makes our team hustle and play hard.

I take little credit for my role as the coach. The team members all stepped up and worked hard to make it happen. We established that we wanted to go for number 1 and knew the price of admission. The players all had to reaffirm their priorities with time management and studies to make time for basketball. Some were willing to give extra playing time to others in order to secure wins. Some arrived early to school to practice on their fundamentals. We all contributed. No one was complacent.

Of course, none of this would happen without the support of the school and parents. The nameless MVPs who set up our venues, transport and organized referees. The teachers who gave up extra time to work with our student-athletes, or words of encouragement the day after a match – regardless of win/loss. The ayis who stayed late to clean the gym after late practice sessions. Not forgetting the parents who came out to games to support our players. The team and I are grateful for all the support, and that drives us to work harder.

Your son, Jonathan, is at YCIS Pudong, in Year 1. How are you finding YCIS Pudong from a parents’ point of view?

I joined YCIS at a very interesting time in my career. Jonathan and I were both joining a brand new environment. Iris (my wife) was out of the country ready to give birth to our new baby, Bryan. The transition to Pudong in her absence was pressurizing to say the least. However we have been supported by very enthusiastic and caring colleagues. In particular Jonathan’s teachers at RP were all aware of the situation and they helped make the transition for him as painless as possible. There were times where both his teachers took a motherly role in Iris’ absence which made him feel welcomed and cared for in his class. The communication was always clear and as a parent I felt that I could let go but at the same time feel involved as part of his growth. The POP moms also were supportive all the way. I feel blessed that Jonathan is studying in this nurturing environment. He is still waking at 6:00 in the morning eager to go to school.

As we come to the end of the first semester, can you share with us your first impressions of the school and especially the students?

I think this is the safest and most professional school I’ve worked at. My first impression is the high standard to which I am held accountable. I am very pleased to be working under supported pressure to constantly improve myself professionally to ensure that the students are supported and learning. The facilities here are phenomenal, the new football pitch and IB learning community are amazing. Not to mention the unbelievable library we have.

The students are very well-behaved and polite. Even the ones I don’t teach know my name and greet me when we meet in the hallways. I’m very glad the school is at a size that allows me to build strong rapports with almost all the students.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like working out and exercising whenever time permits. But it’s always family first so it’s about prioritizing them with my hobbies. Traveling is something we do every year.

Empowered Learning: Finding My Voice and Becoming My Best Self at YCIS

Written by: Janelle Garrett (Lower Secondary Coordinator and MUN Director) and Fred Fang (Year 11)


Fred Fang is a thoughtful, friendly, fun-loving, and hard-working Year 11 YCIS student. With a maturity that belies his 15 years, Fred advocates for students taking control of their learning so that they can engage the many learning opportunities available to them at YCIS with passion and become their best selves. When 15-year-old Year 11 student Fred Fang  arrived from Toronto and joined YCIS Pudong in Year 6, like many 10-year-olds, he was used to his parents making all of the decisions around his education—from what school he would attend to what classes he took and what activities he participated in after school. Unfortunately, this meant that although he had incredible opportunities, he hadn’t stayed in a school longer than 2 years, was painfully shy and struggled to connect as a learner, and he spent a lot of time taking classes like swimming and piano, which he didn’t enjoy. At YCIS, he finally started to put down roots and eventually felt more grounded. By the time Fred was in Lower Secondary, he said, “I had forged strong friendships with classmates from all over the world, and I put my foot down, and chose activities I actually enjoyed, like chess, and tried different sports through CISSA like basketball, floor hockey, badminton and table tennis.”


Although Fred struggled with being shy and felt a bit awkward in those early adolescent years, he enjoyed his friends and his teachers and the tight knit community at YCIS that gave him the space to explore and learn. When his parents considered moving him to another international school in Shanghai for high school, Fred was adamant that he wanted to stay.  He was just starting to gain confidence to try new things, was encouraged and supported by friends and teachers here, and felt this was a place where he could become his best self.

“I think that having a choice in my education is definitely important. Our parents may have certain expectations for what we should do in the future, but I think that students should be the ones that decide ultimately what subjects or CCAs to do. After all, we have to live with the choices, so why shouldn’t it be our own? YCIS has so many different subjects and CCAs to choose from, which allowed me to explore different things and discover which things that I truly have a passion for and figure out those things that I have no interest in, which are both important life lessons.”

As Fred learned to self-advocate, he became a more empowered learner, bringing about impressive changes in the classroom and beyond. Fred continued, “Working with Tess Robinson, Priyanka and consultants at TEAM Edu supported my learning at YCIS as they encouraged my self-discovery with fresh ideas and strategies on how to be more engaged as a learner, strengthen my weaker skill areas, and push myself further beyond my comfort zone. I began to participate more meaningfully in my lessons and engage my teachers outside of the classroom and take advantage of new opportunities for learning. Math was something I used to be terrible at. But after a lot of work, I’ve really improved as a mathematician, and found joy in it. TEAM Edu also introduced me to several amazing summer camps, where I met friends that I am still in contact with.”

“I used to be a really shy kid who was barely able to ask a question in class. But from being challenged to ask one good question in each class each day in Year 9 to being encouraged by my teachers and friends to join activities like MUN (Model United Nations) and Social Enterprise, I have been forced to speak more, have come out of my shell, and gained confidence. I couldn’t have imagined speaking in front of an audience two years ago. But I’ve been to ten MUN conferences over the past 1.5 years in Shanghai, Beijing and even Singapore. At my first conference, I was only brave enough to ask one Point of Information. Now I actually love giving speeches about any topic, and earlier this month, I served as the Deputy President of the Security Council at the DISMUN conference, chairing the committee and encouraging other delegates to make their points. After joining MUN, I started to take an interest in global news, and I started reading news websites and have real informed opinions about the world around me, becoming a much more engaged global citizen. I also forged deeper bonds with my MUN teammates from YCIS as we traveled and spent time debating together and I broadened my network with incredible students from other schools around the world.


These friendships are important because they inspire me to be better, to try new things, to think differently. One of my good friends was the reason that I took Computer Science and it is now my top choice for a major in university. Another friend reintroduced me to the wonders of chess, which has bonded me even closer to him because we both had a passion for the game. Chess allowed me to considerably improve my thinking and analytical abilities. The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award offered me the opportunity to explore other different activities, all the while getting to challenge myself with outdoor hiking, cycling, camping and exploring with my friends.”

After almost 6 years in Shanghai, Fred’s family is moving back to Toronto in 2020. Fred will miss his YCIS friends deeply, is sad he won’t get a chance to participate in the Job Shadow programme next semester, go on the IB Trip to Thailand in Year 12, or graduate with his classmates. Fred is grateful for his years at YCIS—especially because he was able to choose and forge his own path towards success, with great company along the way. He is excited for and empowered to navigate his next learning adventure.