VAIL — Vail Mountain School’s Leela Greenberg has a double degree in Chinese and Spanish, spent a year in Spain as a Fulbright scholar and studied abroad in China and Taiwan. When VMS decided to start an international program, she got the nod.
She’s now the school’s international program coordinator, and next year, VMS will host up to 10 students from Asia and Europe, with a goal of up to 30 in the near future.
Greenberg just returned from a tour of Chinese schools with New Oasis International Education, where she met Vail Mountain School’s first official international student, Li Dongling, from Chengdu, China.
“As political and cultural walls continue to open, many students have a genuine appetite for cultural exchange and exploration,” Greenberg said.
She said a 13-year-old boy she met in Beijing sums it up perfectly.
“I know I will learn so much from American friends in a U.S. school. The more we make friends, the more America and China will get along in the future. This is very important.”
The majority of VMS’ international students will come from China. They’re scheduled to stay for one academic year with the option of staying through graduation.
The long term vision for the program includes partnerships with schools in Asia, Europe and South America, student and faculty exchanges around the globe, an array of study abroad trips and dual degree programs with foreign high schools.
Local families will host the international students. The host family must live near VMS and must provide meals, transportation and a private bedroom. There is some compensation for host families, and they’ll be screened by New Oasis.
In each of the four cities Greenberg visited, she interviewed students who had selected Vail Mountain School as one of their top choice schools. She said they were interested in academic programs such as the Harvard Leadership Institute, as well as school traditions including Ski Friday.
“Generally, students in China are familiar with New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, but few had heard of Colorado before they were introduced to VMS,” Greenberg said. “These students come from urban areas with populations between 14 million to 28 million, so it’s hard for them to conceptualize a place like Vail.”
New Oasis International Education is pleased to welcome the addition of 4 new student bloggers from Cape Henry Collegiate – Tianyi “Jonathan Cui, Zi’ang “Jason” Ren, Zhouwei “David” Li and Peixuan “Steven” Huang.
Tianyi “Jonathan” Cui
It’s such a pleasure to be here introducing myself and sharing my experience since I have come to study in America. My real name is Tianyi Cui or you can call me, Jonathan. I am from Shenzhen, one of the most famous metropolitan cities in China, right next to Hong Kong. I am currently a sophomore, 11th grade student, in Cape Henry Collegiate School, Virginia Beach, VA.
While living with a host family, the students who come in the first time might be either worried about or afraid of speaking out for their requests to the host. It’s common, but also unnecessary. If you really meet any problem and have a hard time dealing with it, I believe your host mom or dad will try to help you out as possible as they can. Sometimes, a truly harmonious environment will have troublesome atmosphere everywhere. Once you build up a strong relationship with them, they will turn to be your most powerful backup. Be honest, stay true. Nevertheless, don’t do whatever you want as what you do in your real home in China. Always remind yourself to be polite and be generous to say thank you to others; it does not cost you anything.
In fact, coming to America alone won’t improve anything intrinsic in your personality. If a student does not work hard and never thinks in others’ perspectives, then he/she will still be like who he/she is in China. But try to concentrate more on the questions, “who you are & what makes you to be you today.” Find your purpose of being here, and, ultimately, you can achieve it. America can never be the gate of heaven in your life term. At least in my opinion, it’s a tool to actualize my own values far beyond a high GPA, a certification from a top university or a well-paid job. Last but not the least, just have fun in your rest of year in high school; enjoy your time hanging out with friends and developing your interests. There’s nothing better than that.
Zi’ang “Jason” Ren
If you want me to recall the first moment I met my family in United States. I can easily remember it like I am thinking what I ate for dinner yesterday. My host dad, Nick, wearing a blue collar shirt with a big Italian logo, gave me a big huge like we have been friends for ten years. In his blue mustang, we could not stop talking. I was nervous. It happened so fast that when I looked at him, There was a sound in my head: Oh my Gosh! This is the family I am going to stay with! That is it!!
I can also remember the first moment I met Lisa, my host mom. She was cooking chicken enchiladas in a pink t-shirt when I came home; and my two little angels: Luke and Kiki, were drawing smiley faces on a sheet of paper. I picked them up. They were curious about the big boy with dark hair and dark eyes.
I enjoy every single piece of my life with my new family. Sometimes the kids will frustrate me because they do not listen. But when they asked me, “Jasoney, could you hold my hand?” with their special tone, my heart melted and all bad moods was gone. I feel like I am always a rock star. Gradually I started to know all Luke’s friends in his class. When they see me, they will tell Luke: “Hey! Your brother is here.” Then Luke will run to me and give me a big huge. When Kiki sees me after school, she always waves to me and asks me to come sit next to her. She proudly introduces her Chinese brother to all her friends and puts her head in my arm.
My life is so happy with them. You must know how funny Nick is if you really stay with him. Lisa and I can look at each other and burst into laughter when Nick does something funny. He always rolls his eyes and goes: Whatever… Last week, we just invented our “get along shirt” (kids need to stay in mama’s big shirt together)for the kids when they don’t get along with each other. That was hilarious. We laughed so hard.
Last month we went on a cruise to west Caribbean together. That was such a wonderful trip. We swam with dolphin, snorkeled and scuba dove in the ocean. But more importantly, we had fun together. Luke’s scramming in the water can reminds me my colorful childhood; and the most enjoyable time of a day was when we played the Scrabble with the salty wind on the deck. That’s the feeling of love, joy and true happiness.
I just love it.
Thank you my DiMasos! You are always my family!
Zhouwei “David” Li
Hi, I am David Li. My Chinese name is Li Zhuowei. I am from Shenzhen, China. A lot of you might not know this city. It is not as internationally famous as Beijing or Shanghai, but it is one of the biggest cities in China. There are 10 million people living in my city. My hometown is by the seaside, near Hong Kong. As my hometown is becoming more international, I have started my international journey, too.
Before I start to talk about my new American life, I would like to let all of you learn more about me.
I am a sophomore this year. My best subject is math. But my favorite ones are PE and arts. Just like all the other boys, we are always looking forward to playing basketball on the courts. It was the best time during school. I have a strong interest in the arts. I have been doing it for about 7 years. I learned Chinese painting, sketching and gouache. I played chess during my elementary school years. I like to play computer games and watch videos in my spare time.
I always maintained my good grades in China – that was one of the reasons I came to America. I wanted a better education. Also, American schools focus more on student’s interests and specialties, and student’s grades are not only determined by the final exam.
I chose to stay with a host family. I thought they could help me learn more about the local culture and improve my English. In addition, living with a host family could help me more with my daily life.
I watched a lot of Hollywood movies before. I thought all the cities in America are prosperous with skyscrapers. On the contrary, Virginia Beach was totally different from my impression of America. The air is very fresh. My host family was more welcoming than my expectation.
Cape Henry is a great school. It has a lot of high-level courses for us to choose, and there is a big club fair every year. I signed up for 5 clubs, they were all amazing. They have a strong athletic team, especially my favorite two sports, soccer and basketball. They both got TCIS champion in this year. Teachers are kind and responsible. We went to see the teachers before school started and they offered us a lot of valuable information about each course.
I have a wonderful city, a great school and a nice host family. The only thing I need to do is to be self-disciplined. I hope it will turn out to be one of my best memories in my life.
Peixuan “Steven” Huang
My name is Peixuan Huang and my English name is Steven. I am an international student from China and currently am a sophomore studying in Cape Henry.
I have a wide range of interests and hobbies. I enjoy reading, playing sports, listening to music, watching movies, playing computer and video games, etc. I like reading not only literature works but also books involving politics, history, philosophy, and science. Reading makes a person wise and mature. My favorite sport is basketball. I like to play it and watch NBA games a lot. I am fond of gentle music and my favorite genres are classic, soul, and R&B. I also like to watching movies. I like suspense, action movies, science fictions, and also some real art works. As for games, I play them for fun in my spare time.
The most important reason I come to America is to seek a better education and go to an American college. America has the world’s best education. Back in my home country, China, the schools are very busy and competitive. The biggest problem of Chinese education must be that students are expected to pay most of their attention to the knowledge in text books. They spend a huge amount of time studying, practicing, and testing in order to go to a college. In this way, the well-rounded development of students is ignored. So I came to America to learn things that I could not acquire from Chinese education, like creativity, leadership, and the ability of practice.
I have been in America for nearly eight months. I can still remember the first time I landed on America. I was excited and eager to see more about this new country. Since I am not in an urban area, I do not see many high buildings. The community is quiet. I can see many plants and trees and birds and squirrels playing. The air is fresh and the temperature is mild. Life seems to be cozy here. I can have a chance to try different food here and fortunately I like most of them. The school is beautiful and modern. The building is well decorated and it has everything one expects to find.
It takes time to fully get used to the new life here. The schoolwork is also busier than I expected. This is a new life, new experience, and new challenge for me. Coming to America is my choice so I am willing to take the challenge. There are problems and difficulties. But I am working hard and improving myself to solve them. Now I am on the right track. Every day is a new day; every day is better than the last day.
Hi! This is Xiaoou Chen. So happy to talk to you guys again. Previously, I have made a brief introduction to the big picture about how American high school works and a reminder to student about how to get along with host family and protect who you are. This time I want to talk about part of my experience as a test taker and how to get yourself prepared and ready to confront the barrage of tests.
Generally speaking, TOEFL and SAT are the two most important standardized tests that we must take in order to get into a good college. They are interconnected, but each of them has its own unique features.
Since I can say goodbye to TOEFL at the moment, (I will probably pursue a higher score in TOEFL later) and I am currently preparing for the SAT exam, I have more confidence in talking about my experience with the TOEFL test.
It’s true that TOEFL, with a duration of roughly four hours, is definitely a time consuming “activity.” It is divided into four parts—reading, listening, speaking and writing. For each of the sections, there are certain ways to succeed. But if you are a prospective American high school student, the most important skill, I think, you need to be proficient in, is reading. As it is, reading is the ability to collect and gather information; it is to convert what you see into what you can conceive and understand. If you have a hard time with gaining proficiency in reading, no doubt you will have difficultywith the other three sections. For listening, there are hard words in each very long and “tedious” parts. It requires you to have a good amount of vocabulary and you must be able to comprehend the general picture and acquire detailed information from either conversations or lectures. If you cannot read, there is no possibility you will be adept at listening. As for speaking and writing, if you cannot read, that must be because you have not read enough. If you have not read enough, there is no way, i.e., you have no source in your mind, for you to speak and write. I am not saying that the other three sections are less important than reading, but actually in some degree they are at a higher level of comprehension for an English leaner, and all those are dependent on good reading skills.
“Reading” is not just a simple word. It embodies complexity. To be able to read, the first thing you need to do is have the ability to command a decent amount of vocabulary. As you find and read an article written in English (absolutely not from your Chinese English Textbook, they are way too easy, compared to TOEFL.), if you find you can hardly read without looking up words in a dictionary and even after knowing all the meanings of each word, you still have no idea what the passage is talking about, now it is time for you to sit down and grab a vocabulary book and study it everyday! It is not very important what kind of book you can use (usually most of the vocabulary books on the market are good enough), but it is important for you to have the persistence in memorizing words everyday. I am saying everyday! If you do not review your vocabulary book every day, you will find that you forget what you remembered two days ago. After a long period of time, even if you reach the end of the book, without reviewing daily, you will remember virtually nothing. All the effort you paid, in some degree, would be wasted and in vain. This condition absolutely highlights the KING PRINCIPLE in vocabulary studying. It is periodically reviewing. The words you memorized today, have to be reviewed on the next day. But that’s not it. You have to review them again and again after every two days or three days. There are many methods where you can find online for memorizing words. But the key of all of them is to review persistently.
For memorizing words, I think there are generally two ways which are efficient. The first is to memorize a large amount of them in a short period of time with reviewing in high intensity. For example, if you decide to memorize three thousand words in a month, you at least have to memorize one hundred of them per day. Virtually you also have to review all of the previous words everyday in order to retain them in your mind. The other is to memorize certain amounts of word in a long period of time, such as memorizing three thousand words in half of a year, along with reading. You don’t have to memorize a lot of them everyday, but still have to review them periodically. However, the time left is very good for you to gain proficiency in reading. After memorizing, let’s say, thirty words everyday, you need to find something to read—essays, papers, novels, whatever you like (but at least you find it not very easy to read). Don’t worry if you cannot understand it. Just read, but still you need to try your best. It is to foster your aptitude in comprehension. I guarantee that you will improve your English skills if you do this.
Please remember persistence is always the soul of studying. I think that’s it for this post. I will complete the introduction for how to prepare for other standardized tests in the next several posts. As always please feel free to leave comments, I will try to respond to you at my earliest convenience.