Charlotte Cheung

My greatest takeaway from ISF is that: the people surrounding you shapes who you are.

I remember how supportive, kind, and knowledgeable mentors guided me to flourish in my passions within an academic environment. Mr. Zhang Yulong (張玉龍老師), my teacher of 6 years, imparted a foundational understanding and appreciation of the Chinese classics. More importantly, he unconditionally supported me in all endeavors regarding the Chinese language and culture. Because of him, I have developed insightful and sensitive interpretations of Chinese texts.

This has borne tangible achievements, like publishing the essay I wrote in my Grade 10 Shuyuan Chinese Classics course in Bauhinia’s Issue 7. Moreover, I am a proud co-author of the first and third editions of《梧桐》, which are beautifully-bound anthologies of Chinese creative student writing stemming from Chinese historical texts.

The intangible changes are equally important, if not more important. Learning Chinese classics has developed a pair of eyes that discovers beauty in the everyday. Just like how the poet Tao Yuanming wrote: “I pick fence-side asters at will; Carefree I see the southern hill.” (Drinking Wine 5) As such, Mr. Zhang Yulong’s guidance has developed a lifelong learner of Chinese culture within me.

Continuing the train of thought on literature, my DP literature teachers, Mr. Sun (孫老師) and Mr. Hoye, have opened my eyes to a new depth of textual interpretation. Their guidance has undoubtedly enriched how I perceive literature, and will aid my experience of further academic learning.

Mr. Sun’s teaching has allowed me to experience copious amounts of brilliant literary analysis supported by knowledge of unfathomable breadth and depth. I’ve attempted to imitate and incorporate his distinct style as my own, with limited success.

Intimate and enlightening discussions have characterized my English classes with Mr. Hoye, reigniting how learning is, first and foremost, fun and stimulating. I have also learned to appreciate how diverse perspectives simultaneously complement and contrast each other, creating an abundance of rich insights. Our English classes allowed me to realize the power of collaboration, and reminded me to always be humble and appreciate the unexpected.

I fondly reminisce about the fun and quirky memories our LIT English class made. The friendships forged in this school, no matter how big or small, will positively influence the next chapter of my life. In university, I look forward to practicing my core values. Connecting and having fun with people from different walks of life, beliefs, cultures, and personalities. Embracing activities that stimulate my creative spirit and pose challenges. Building solid and genuine connections with new and established friends, and my close family, who are the foundation of my support system.

In all honesty, the journey has been demanding at times – more than a few miserable tears were shed. ISF has provided such an excellent environment to smoothen the process and allow fruitful learning to take place. This comes in the form of invaluable teachers, Shuyuan Program, and the UGC team, to name but a few.

I’d like to thank my teachers in Primary for creating and accompanying me throughout numerous happy times, as well as supporting a little girl during troubled times. I’m also extremely grateful to my teachers in MYP for encouraging and understanding a birdbrained child whose head is often in the clouds. Although I am not an ‘academically excellent’ student, my teachers have continuously encouraged my simple curiosity towards learning and engagement within the classroom. This has allowed me to enjoy learning, and build a solid relationship of trust with my teachers.

Lastly, I gratefully acknowledge the organized and effective manner in which our school has guided us through CAS, TOK, and EE, enabling us to develop the critical thinking and reflexivity the IB has envisioned. Shoutout to Ms. Osann (my MYP VA teacher, EE supervisor, tutor, and TOK coordinator) for being so kind and aptly strict.

“A community that is supportive and helps you improve yourself is a good community.” (Wesley Chui, 2023)

I’ve had the great fortune of having the opportunity to realize my best self, in no small part due to how supportive ISF has been. To say that my time in ISF was invaluable is, with no exaggeration, an understatement.