We make Yew Chung proud! YCIS graduates carrying on the school legacy.
Graduation season is upon us. May and June is a time of excitement and graduation ceremonies. We are covering graduation blog posts every weekday — see earlier posts here. Next week we continue our coverage on Monday. Graduations are such a happy and emotional event they even make strangers cry!
YCIS (Yew Chung International School)
YCIS Beijing held its graduation on June 1 with 31 graduates from 12 different countries and regions — Australia, USA, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Korea, Hungary, Canada, HK, Belgium, Taiwan and the UK. The graduating class is the largest in YCIS’s 15-year history in Beijing and featured 3 students — Benjamin Lau, Steven Sheng, and Jefferson Kung — who have each spent more than 13 years as students at YCIS. Dressed in black gowns with blue and red ribbons and black caps, one by one the graduates gladly took their diplomas and smiled for the cameras.
After the ceremony the graduates took pictures outside the school at the picturesque Honglingjin Park amidst a backdrop of greenery, a stone bridge, and clear green lake. The Graduation Dance took place at the Renaissance Hotel Shuangjing for students and teachers, where they celebrated their accomplishments.
Some of the more memorable moments from the graduation are in our gallery here.
Valedictorian Helen Leung spoke on behalf of the class of 2011. Originally from Australia Helen has been in Beijing for 5 years. She plans on studying at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
Here is a copy of her speech:
Good morning. We are very privileged today as Deputy Director Rev Choy and Superintendent Mr. Ulmet are here with us to celebrate our graduation.
Co-principals, teachers, students, friends, and fellow graduates,
Two weeks ago, I completed my last IB exam along with all the year 13 students. I cleaned out my locker, returned my textbooks, and threw away all my used notebooks. You would think that it must have felt good, and it did. But at the same time, a sense of emptiness washed over me because it felt like I was throwing away a part of me. It broke my heart because the pages represented every class that I took and the countless hours of hard work including the weekends and fun that I sacrificed to fill in the lines on these pages. I was scared that without my textbooks and notebooks, I would forget everything that I had learned, and it was frightening to realize that all I had left of IB was what I could remember off the top of my head! Only at that moment did I realize the true meaning of schooling. The value of our education lies within what we take with us, and what has already become a part of us, wherever we go and whatever we do in life.
As a child, I went to school and did what I was supposed to do because I was told that it was the right thing to do. And then I went to school for a few more years after that and did well just to prove to other people that I can be just as smart as my sister. But over the years, I gradually realized that my education did not belong to anyone else but myself, so I stopped studying for other people, and started taking responsibility and control over my own education.
So what have we learned over the years? I have to admit that I do not remember what any of my exams in 6th grade were about. But remember that kindergarten teacher who insisted that you copy your ABCs over and over again until they were perfect? Or how nervous you were when you delivered your first oral presentation in front of the whole class? Or how touched you were when everyone sang Happy Birthday to you? Through our every little experience in school, we piece together the lessons of responsibility, care, respect, integrity and teamwork.
Perhaps what is more important than the content of our class work is our perception in the meaning of education and the attitude we take when approaching our tasks. As Mark Twain said, “Never let your schooling get into the way of your education.” Ultimately, what we take with us as we leave high school is what we chose to learn over the years both inside and outside school. In the end, what we really learned are not the facts that we memorized for the sake of exams, but the knowledge and skills that interested us, touched us, mattered to us – and have become a part of us. Remember that it was the class that we chose to listen to, the lessons that we chose to learn from, the challenges that we chose to tackle, the mistakes that we were brave enough to make, and the obstacles that we faced in life that have allowed us to grow into stronger and better people. May you continue to explore your interests and passion regardless of what they are, and have the courage and open-mindedness to learn new things.
There are times when we ask ourselves why we are so much luckier than the millions out there who cannot afford an education and will remain illiterate for the rest of their lives. We question why they are less privileged than we are, and whether we deserve to be so advantaged. I have no answer to this question, but I do know that because life has presented us with so many opportunities, it is now our responsibility to use what we have learned and make the most out of our lives.
But of course, none of our achievements would have been possible without the infallible support of our families, teachers, and friends.
We thank our families for loving and accepting us, for showing us the way in life and for always being there to catch us when we fall.
Teachers, we are constantly touched by the passion and enthusiasm you bring into your work. Thank you for your patience, guidance and love. Thank you for leading by example and inspiring us to strive for our best. Thank you for helping us build our future.
Finally, thank you to all our fellow graduates. We have all laughed and cried through the highs and lows of our IB journey together. Today, there isn’t just one, but thirty one valedictorians in front of you because each and every one of us is unique and special in our own ways. We all came a long way and struggled through our own personal battles to reach where we are today. This is an important milestone to every one of us. In the end, know that it is not our grades or awards that matter, but more importantly it is the lessons that we have learned and the people that we have become that deserve our true celebration.
Today, we walk away from high school not knowing what the future holds, but the one thing we do know is that we will grow on.
Thank you and congratulations.