We reached out to schools in Beijing to ask who was making an impact on their school communities. Our terms were loose, as we were curious about individuals who made a difference in leadership, community, and charity. We don’t feel like someone necessarily has to contribute to charity to be a community star, as sometimes a great, reliable friend in a school community can make just as much of an impact. Each of these stories is special, and we’re so proud to have had the chance to talk with these students and teachers.
Stephanie An, Grade 5 Student at Beijing International Bilingual Academy
For Stephanie An, president of the Elementary Student Council at Beijing International Bilingual Academy (BIBA), leadership comes easily. An helped shape the group and start projects, which included presenting in Chinese and English in front of crowds of over 200 parents at BIBA’s open days. She is willing to take on leadership roles but doesn’t equate that to being in the spotlight for her own sake. James Helbringer, Elementary Principal at BIBA, said of her, “She is well respected among staff and her peers and the Grade 3 and 4 students in her building look up to her as a leader.”
An is an all-star talented student, having qualified in Johns Hopkins University’s CTY Talent Search in both Math and Verbal Reasoning, being passionate about art (we saw one of her meticulously drawn posters while with her – it was impressive), writing, IT, science, literature, Taekwondo, and charity. But leadership isn’t complicated to her. “I think I am a leader naturally. I just took up the position of a leader. I hear what others have to say, contribute, and organize. Everyone can be a leader.”
An says parents and teachers are incredibly supportive in what she does, and through the experience of student council and their support, she’s grown as a leader. She said it was important to “hear other people’s opinions because everyone has different opinions and views of life.” Once she got those opinions, she would “face the facts” and decide “which opinion is best, which doesn’t have supportive ideas.”
While on student council, her favorite project was a lemonade stand where they raised RMB 4,000 and bought books to give to migrant children schools. Giving the books to the children personally was a memorable experience for her. To get the opportunity to be on student council, she said, “Work hard on your application. It’s plenty easy to get it in. Write out your feelings and go for it.”
Photo: Uni You
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