On Friday, May 25, 2012 at the Twenty-First Century Hotel, the Beijing World Youth Academy Class (BWYA) of 2012 of 51 members graduated. Graduates dressed in dark green caps and gowns. The ceremony began with flag bearers, carrying flags of various countries, representing the nationalities of fellow graduates. The sound of Pachelbel’s Canon was in the air. Pat Martin Seehusen Principal of the IB School welcomed both graduates and parents.
Then Headmistress Wang Hong greeted fellow students, parents, and teachers. Rachel Jin introduced the faculty speaker Mr. Columba Moore, a biology teacher and the head of the Science Department.
Graduates will be attending the University of California Los Angeles, University of Southern California, George Washington University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Boston University, Fordham University, Pennsylvania State University, McGill University, Exeter University, Oxford Brookes University, University of Edinburgh, and Hong Kong University among others.
Chinese section graduate Almas Turdyakyn highlighted his experience of learning Chinese and gave a warm thank you to all the teachers who had helped him along the way. Almas is from Kazakhstan and has lived in Beijing for six years. He received a full scholarship to attend Beihang University (previously known as the Beijing University for Aeronautics and Astronautics).
Cynthia Yang was the International Baccalaureate (IB English) section graduate speaker. Cynthia is Canadian and and has been living in Beijing for six years, she will be studying Commerce at the University of Toronto this fall. She spoke on behalf of all her fellow IB graduates. “We finished out Extended Essays, our Internal Assessments, and finally nailed the IB exams.” She described her graduation class as a very close group, as closely knit as a pack of wolves. Yang went on to use the Chinese proverb, “There is no never-ending banquet under the sky” to describe how all good things must come to an end, including their time spent together as classmates. She urged all her fellow graduates to “cherish every moment (they have spent together) with fondness." For her full speech, see below.
Parent speaker Dr. Zicai Liang told the graduates that only when one is able to make responsible decisions that will affect themselves and the whole of society will they become adults.
After the speeches, students were awarded for their hard work and charisma. The Award for Intellectual Curiosity was awarded to Emily Yu. She was described by Mr. Moore with an Emily Dickinson quote: as having “[a]brain is wider than the sky." The Award for Principled Character was awarded to Angela Chan. And the Award for Intercultural Understanding was awarded to Laura Lu Zi. Last but not least, the Outstanding Student Award was awarded to Connie (Khi Dong) Kim.
The graduates received their diplomas and the Class of 2012 was proudly presented, tossing their caps into the air. Graduates rejoiced that their IB Exams were finally over and that a new school or new place was waiting for them. Later that night, graduates, students, and teachers spent the night at the BWYA Prom at Marriot Wangjing. Girls dressed in long flowing gowns and boys dressed in tuxedos with ties for the formal affair.
For more pictures from the event, check out our online gallery here
Below is Cynthia Yang’s speech in full:
"Good afternoon. My name is Cynthia Yang. As a part of Beijing World Youth Academy’s graduating class of 2012, I’d like to begin by expressing a warm welcome and our sincere thanks to you for being here to share our joy on this meaningful day. Today, on the day of our matriculation from high school, we would like to tell you a story.
Once upon a time, in a land filled with hutongs and zhajiangmian, there was a group of hopeful young people. These girls and boys were a jumble of colours, shapes and sizes.
But such a collection of individuals, while different apart, were together one and the same. United by a determination to conquer the famed International Baccalaureate (known simply as IB to most), this team of aspiring youths set out to achieve their goal. With the help of teachers and mentors, as well as their faithful sidekicks the Graphic Display Calculator and the fantastic tie of destiny, they began the long and winding road of IB.
Though the group of young men and women had high hopes, their journey was not without obstruction. Their path was laden with difficulties that held them back. They met challenges such as the Extended Essay, CAS, and the mighty Theory of Knowledge. Why me? they despaired. How will I ever succeed? Faced with such daunting opponents, many were overcome with pressure. The beasts of plagiarism and procrastination stared them in the eye. Several times, they came close to giving up hope.
But that didn’t happen. With the support of their mentors and peers, they neither gave up nor gave in. On the darkest nights, while students of AP and A-levels were deep asleep, they relentlessly fought on.
After many trials and tribulations, these young men and women achieved their goal. They confronted 6 different Internal Assessments; they completed the Extended Essay; they tackled TOK Presentations and the TOK essay and finally, nailed the IB written exams.
Looking back at the past 2 years, however, many in this group of individuals accomplished more than they expected. Some of them learned to be caring, others became knowledgeable, some of them grew into risk-takers – but, most of all, everyone understood the value of teamwork and togetherness. I hope we all remember the Group 4 Project, Model United Nations, the school plays, the Mayfair, the December Talent Show. No single person made these happen alone. We are a team; a family; a pack of wolves. We are together.
Whether you, in our audience, are here to celebrate the graduation of your child, your sibling, your student or a friend, we would like to express a huge thank you for being part of the remarkable experience that has been the last 2 years. As the Chinese idiom goes, every feast must come to an end. So ends the feast for BWYA’s graduating class of 2012, but as it does, we’ll always cherish every memory with fondness."