International high school graduations are being held throughout this month in Beijing. We’re covering one each day this week and will continue for the next two weeks. For high school students it is the highlight of their teen lives so far, and for parents, friends and siblings its also a magical moment.
WAB (Western Academy of Beijing)
The WAB graduation was held on May 28th at the Confucius Temple in a ceremony that combined western influences and traditional Chinese style. The 120 graduates from 33 different nationalities each donned a fresh take on the traditional graduation gown for the ceremony: well-fitted traditional Chinese gowns in black with yellow silk collars and buttons. Ceramic roofing with red buildings and a full orchestra surrounded by hundred-year-old trees made the scene the place to be that day. Prior to the ceremony the seniors had celebrated with their prom on April 23rd featuring a “Phantom of the Opera” theme.
For more pictures from the spectacular graduation day click here.
The WAB Confucius Scholar (equivalent of valedictorian) Zoe Zheng Zheng Lee is from Melbourne, Australia and has been living in Beijing for two years. She plans to study Japanese and International Studies at Waseda University in Japan for six months, before heading off to start her Law degree at King’s College in London in 2012. She intends to further her post-graduate studies and career in art.
This is the graduating class speech she delivered:
Teachers, parents, and family members – I am very honoured to represent my classmates here today, the graduating class of 2011. We have all completed a tremendous journey. Today, for every step and every moment that each of us has endured, we are extremely lucky to share, remember and cherish these moments, together.
Beijing itself is a fusion of the East and West. When I first came here, I was, admittedly, rather tentative to engage fully with the country. China was so obviously fully steeped in culture and history that it was all rather overwhelming. However, the apprehensiveness on my behalf is exactly what, I have come to realise, WAB has refined.
All of us know, some better than others, to foster maturity, awareness and engagement, requires a copious amount of effort. I stand here today and say that I am proud to have seen and experienced the masterpiece of WAB, a truly inspiring, international community- a painting of many different lines, patterns, shapes and colours. Together with teachers and parents, the class of 2011 also, can understand that going after dreams, setting goals, and overcoming their own challenges is nothing new. Coming from down-under Australia, I can only say that I’ve been blown away by WAB’s execution of strength and vibrancy. The evidence rests with the class of 2011.
To be honest, I find it very hard to speak for all of them, every single one a unique individual. I have been constantly amazed at the diversity and array of people, stories, dreams and journeys. The energy and individualism that I have been inspired by, I hope, is what I can humbly convey. For instance, there are people who have amazing omnipresence that I have come to know – one moment on the volleyball and basketball court, the next with me in History class whilst frantically replying to emails for student council meetings. Others who persist in what I used to think of an impossible task – a 3-day biking trip. And even Ms. Mirkin, our principal and my awesome homeroom teacher. One morning I would be there but she would be in Boston or London recruiting new teachers and the other, back again in school and watching our music concerts.
It is a sensation in itself that from all over the world, like the fine machinery that makes a clock run, we have come together and shared our lives.
Class of 2011, we are finally here, at the end of the long journey. I’m honoured to have met and have been inspired by you all. I’m sure that you’ll take pieces of each other wherever you go. This is not the end; this is the start of a new beginning. Thank you.