As the school year starts up and buckles down, we want to encourage students and teachers with a heart-warming story about the many who come and go from Beijing.
Meredith Chen started reception at the International Montessori School of Beijing (MSB) and left for the United States for grade 3. She came back for grade 5 at the International School of Beijing (ISB) and eventually moved on to study Elementary Education at Emmanuel College in Boston.
“I wanted to go into education remembering those teachers who were more mentors than just teachers.”
Her own education journey was not without its troubles, as she recalls herself as “not a good student” but the teachers she encountered along the way who made her feel like there was no struggle made the journey enjoyable and memorable.
Chen came back to MSB for an internship, gladly accepting a position with her first year reception teacher, Elaine Kinlough, who also taught Chen in her first year of teaching.
Similarly to Chen, Kinlough says, “I first came to Beijing in 1997. I have left twice; however, I keep coming back. I’ve noticed many dramatic changes in this city over the past 20 years.”
When asked about Chen coming back to intern at MSB, Elaine responded, “I was extremely excited for [Chen] to come back to MSB and work in the classroom with me. I wanted to see if she was still the bubbly, outgoing student that I remembered. Almost 20 years later, she retains so much of the child I knew all those years ago. She has brought infectious enthusiasm and joy to her work with us, and it’s been a huge pleasure to see her return.”
Kinlough mentioned that with social media, it’s far easier for her to stay in touch with former students, though MSB graduates seem to find their way back.
“It’s wonderful when students come back to work at the school. It’s like our lives have come full circle. It’s also exciting and inspiring for the students in my class to know that [Chen] is a previous student of mine. It links them to the 26-year history of the school in a concrete way,” Kinlough said.
In a moment of sentimentalism, we wondered how Kinlough felt about Chen leaving again.
“[Chen] and other MSB students never leave. They always come back to visit us. Like me, they can’t stay away!”