Tsinghua International School (THIS) is one of the many international schools in Beijing. Like most other schools, Tsinghua has its own sense of school spirit and culture and a big part of that is internationalism.
Despite Tsinghua’s reputation as a division of the local high school attached Tsinghua University, many people accuse Tsinghua of being more tri-national, as the student body is primarily made up of American, Canadian, and Chinese nationals. While most of the students at THIS are one of the three, what’s makes Tsinghua as “international” as any other school, is its faculty. THIS faculty is comprised of teachers from the US, Canada, China, Japan, Greece, Hungary, Finland, Mexico, France, in addition to many more countries. These educators offer an array of vibrant languages, cultures, knowledge, and teaching styles. Every teacher brings pieces of different education styles to our school, forming an education system that is, in the most fundamental sense, international. A diverse student body and faculty is what defines Tsinghua as “international” rather than “Tsinghua American.”
In terms of curriculum, THIS offers American Advanced Placement (AP) courses, but does not strictly follow the American curriculum. While fostering advanced programs in language arts, social studies, and science, Tsinghua keeps up a rigorous Chinese course at the same level, if not higher, than its local school counterpart. This combination of native-level English and Chinese raises its students to be bilingual in a way that many international schools around the world strive to achieve. We are able to understand both modern and classic literature and ancient Chinese poems at a deeper level than most bi-cultural people as Tsinghua teaches these courses throughout its secondary school Chinese course. It is through examining classic poets from Shakespeare to Li Bi that Tsinghua students are truly bilingual, surely a quality which will aid us in our further studies.
While most bilingual students have a good grasp of language, Singaporean studies show that it is more difficult for their bilingual students to understand the essence of classical literature and ancient Chinese poems in one of the two languages. Steven Owen, a famous East Asian studies professor at Harvard, has written several works about Tang dynasty literature. He says: “The understanding of [any]classical literature serves great purpose in the early years before launching into a professional career; [school]is the best time to become more worldly, knowledgeable people.”
On the outside, THIS may seem to be a “99 percent Asian school,” as people have been known to say, but inside the walls of Tsinghua is an energetic mix of cultures from different countries, shaping the future of global citizens that will become leaders on a global stage.
Rhea Jiang is a junior at Tsinghua International School, an international campus affiliated with Tsinghua High School. He is the co-editor-in-chief for the school newspaper, the Spartan Times, and co-president of the debate club. Through her blog posts, Rhea hopes to share her unique thoughts and experiences at Tsinghua International School.
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