First Day in School：2nd Septermber 2013
The following is Catherine Xia's Interview
Thank you Catherine for the opportunity to interview you. First of all, we’d like to congratulate you on getting an offer from the Wheaton College and Depauw College. Wheaton offered you a $22,000 scholarship per year, and Depauw offered you a $18,000 scholarship per year.Good job Catherine! As I know, you got our CAIS scholarship 3 years ago, which means no tuition fees in CAIS for 3 years. Now, tell us, why did you want to come to CAIS?
My middle school class was very special, and my classmates were talented, or you can call them Straight A students. They are winners of either International Mathematics or Physics Olympiad!! You might say I was lucky, or I was not lucky at all to join this class.
I was a “different” student in my class, as I never went to any tutorial class till now! But my classmates were immersed into many kinds of tutorial classes, and they were trained to be winners! After one year of study, I told my mom that I didn’t feel happy in this class, because I realized it made no sense to go to the good high school and torment myself to learn the boring things! At the meantime, I found my future plan was quite different from my classmates. I was lucky because my parents understood me. I came up with my idea to study abroad. They supported me, and I really appreciate that. Their respect and encouragement shaped me to be a strong-minded person. Just at that time, someone told me there was an International School in Changchun. Although I was accepted by a California high school, I still wanted to have a try in CAIS scholarship competition! I was very lucky to get the reward.
Group photo of Catherine, her mom and the School Board after Scholarship rewarded
Do you still remember your scholarship test?
I was very relaxed, and I thought it was just a small test! Other than the normal examinations, the scholarship test also included PE, Talents and Equipment Assembly. The most interesting part was the face-to-face interview by 4 teachers. The questions were out of imagination: You needed to think out of box, which really impressed me!! That was not the end. You had to answer the questions in English, be quick and be accurate! In my opinion, the scholarship examination was to find the students who had overall and comprehensive knowledge.
2013 Scholarship Examination (Catherine 2nd Right)
Gold always glitters no matter where it is. When you came to CAIS, what impressed you the most about our school? What are the differences between your previous school and CAIS?
The way my classmates and I learned, and the way our teachers taught at CAIS are totally different from what I was used to. In my previous school, students sat in desks that were arranged in a standardized way. Lectures were also presented in standardized ways as students dutifully took notes. We accepted the fact that teachers were like robots.
It is a lot different at CAIS. Teachers are more relaxed; they even joke around with students. The seats are not arranged in uniform fashion, and students don’t sit in normal “siting positions”. Even more, students aren’t required to be examination machines, and exams are different from my previous school. There are no “standard answers”.
During class, teachers may raise a question for you to elaborate on, study and conduct further research to answer. These self-inquiring skills allow students to be more knowledgeable and independent.
MYP 5 has 10 required subjects in addition to the six rigorous subjects required of the DP program. This exposes students to diverse subjects, some of which they may enjoy immensely.
The multiple subjects I sweated and toiled through, and the multiple teaching methods I experienced have shaped me to be a highly accomplished woman with diverse interests! Yes, that is me, and this is the school life that I want!
2015 CAIS Sports Day(3rd Right Catherine Xia)
CAIS Christmas Market Catherine and her DP classmates(2nd Left)
Have you talked with anyone from your previous school? How did you feel about it?
I have. My former middle school classmates are all straight A students and now almost all of them have signed contracts with a local high school (which is a very good school in Changchun).
Even though we are still good friends, I found that our conversations about school were quite different. The day before our conversation was their whole-school examination day. All of them talked about the exam. I felt they were so tired.
These past two years of DP life was more difficult than MYP. How did you balance your life between school and a personal life?
In short: I suffered with joyfulness. DP was truly difficult, but I really appreciated that IB has CAS (Creativity, Action and Service), which allowed me to have a more balanced school life, and it reduced my academic pressure. I think all DP students appreciate it.
Catherine and her CAIS DP classmates(3rd Left)
CAIS encourages DP students to take part in more activities. Which one impressed you the most?
I think it would be my “A Night of Chopin” benefit concert. The reason why I wanted to organize this activity was to accomplish my dream of playing for an audience, and my musical idol is Chopin. When I grow up, I hope to host my own concert. All the musical pieces would be Chopin’s works. So, when I had the opportunity in school this year, I tried my best to plan it well. I want to share my sincere appreciation to my supportive classmates, without whose help, such a wonderful event would not have been possible.
After this activity, did you change?
I changed a lot. I became more confident! Before, I would not start to do things till I got 100% confidence! It was really a challenge to plan a solo Concert, which required many things, like preparing the showing list, and planning the music effect. For me, I think it is a kind of respect to our audience. I struggled because DP had much work to do. I was supposed not to do this, but I still insisted on playing piano every day for 1-2 months. On the Concert Day, when I saw the light shined on me, and the audience were attracted by me, at that time, I told myself, the choice was absolutely right! So, this was a big event for me!
2015 “A Night of Chopin” Concert Catherine(4th Right) and her classmates
Have you chosen the major yet? What are your DP subjects?
Chinese A SL, Math SL, English B HL, Biology HL, Psychology HL, Music SL. I haven’t chosen my major yet. I don’t even know what my future is, since I am the person who is always curious of the world. Maybe you can call me “Ms Wilful”, because the subjects I chose were full of challenges. I think I need to think harder before I can tell what my favorite subject is for sure. I had a hard time when I chose the 6 subjects, like Math. Everyone knows the Chinese are good at Math, but I wanna to break this rule. I don’t like Math actually, so I decided to choose SL for Math. For music class, although I learned music for many years, all I knew was how to play the piano. You know, the music class includes humanity, history and culture, all of which I know little about them. I don’t care if I will get a low score in the end, it doesn’t matter. The knowledge I receive is much more important.
Catherine and Biology Teacher Mr Luis
From the perspective of many Chinese parents, the world famous universities are widely acknowledged. But in fact, USA has many strong colleges. Can you tell us on what you would base your choice of college?
I was very confused when I selected my major. I think I am the person who has a very wide range of hobbies. I love to try, and I am not afraid of that. Now I cannot see clearly the way I want to go. Some parents hope their kids to choose the major ASAP, so do my parents. However I think I need to discover what I want step by step, which is also the reason why I chose my 6 IB subjects. I am young and I have the opportunity to try. For example, I applied to American colleges without a major in mind. American colleges don’t require a certain major in the 1st and 2nd year. If you only focus on one subject, you cannot get the certificate. When I told my Chinese friends, they didn’t hear this about colleges! But I think you need to find the proper school for you. Compared with Universities, colleges mainly focus on the Bachelor education, while some universities put their resources into postgraduate education. A University will employ many TAs to assist in teaching, while in college, you will have greater chances to attend the class of an experienced professor. It depends on you. For me, I would like to choose a college as I am not clear about what I want to study in the future.
Catherine with CAIS teachers and classmates(2nd Left)
After 3 years of learning in IB school, what is your biggest achievement?
IB has a very technical curriculum, which requires diverse choices. For example you cannot choose only art or science. EE(Extended Essay), TOK( Theory of Knowledge), CAS(Creativity, Action and Service) enriched my school life. EE can help develop your ability to study and write papers, which assists in being well prepared for the university. CAS helps balance your life and alerts you to find a way to release stress. TOK similar to Philosophy, which makes your brain run fast! So , as I said, I like IB, a balanced curriculum.
Can you share some experience with us?
I suggest MYP students try various fields, so you will discover what you really want. Don’t be afraid of that. Attend the activities as much as you can. That will help you quickly find a direction towards your future!
Thank you very much. I hope you can have a splendid life. Use your ”wilfulness” and insistence to explore your wonderful future.
Catherine and her classmates( 4th Left)
Changchun American International School is the first andonly international school for 3-19 year olds established in the Jilin Province.We are currently one of the 17 IB schools with DP, MYP and PYP accreditation inChina. Final approval for the opening ofCAIS was granted by the Ministry of Education June 2007. IB Diploma is widely recognized all over the world and IB students routinely gain admission to morethan 3,000 universities, including Harvard, Cambridge, Yale,Oxford, Beijing University, and the American Ivy League, etc.
We welcome aged 3-18 students, and we are looking forward to your visit.
No.2899, DongNanHu Road, ChangchunJilin Province, China 130033
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