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New Oasis Student Bloggers: Jonathan, Jason, David and Steven

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

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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.

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Zi’ang “Jason” Ren 

Zi'ang Ren first day of school

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!

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Zhouwei “David” Li

Zhuowei Li and his sunglasses

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.

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Peixuan “Steven” Huang

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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.

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New Oasis students create video to help bring attention to World Language Week

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Recently, New Oasis students Jonathan Cui, Bob Xia and Sylvia Liu, along with several other students in the International Club at Cape Henry Collegiate made a video to help bring attention to World Language Week. Bob, Jonathan and Sylvia interviewed their classmates and many members of the Cape Henry faculty and asked them a simple question: “What is China?”

Says Bob Xia, “It was really interesting when we were interviewing people and asking them to pronounce Chinese sentences, describe China and pick a favorite thing about China.” Interesting responses included: “China is the panda’s motherland!” and “We love Chinese sweet and sour chick (actually NOT Chinese).”

Want to see more of the responses to this question? Click here to view the video.

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Reflections From the Head of School – Dr. Lewis

Dr. Lewis, Cape Henry Collegiate’s Head of School writes about his thoughts on the New Oasis trip to China

Originally published on Cape Henry College’s Facebook page

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If you happen to get lost walking the streets of a Chinese city and you are worried about your Asian language skills, don’t be too concerned.  Just ask a high school student for directions. You will most likely get a response in English and you’ll be safely on your way.  But, if you really want to be impressed, ask a middle school student for the directions. You will most likely get a response in English and also enjoy a conversation about Chinese culture, American food and where to find the best shops in town.  Young students in China are determined to learn and speak English and they enjoy meeting English-speaking visitors.

Earlier this month I traveled to China as a member of a small delegation of educators. Our purpose was to understand and experience the Chinese education system and culture.  During our journey, we toured some of the leading experimental schools as well as highly regarded language schools. I had the opportunity to speak with educational leaders, teach classes, and meet students, parents and teachers from the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen.  Through conversations and observations I learned about the Chinese education system and the formidable challenges presented to a fast-developing nation that values its population of 1.4 billion citizens – which amounts to 20% of the World’s population.

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The top students in China are bright, curious, inquisitive, ambitious and keenly focused on academic excellence in high school and beyond.  They study in a highly competitive environment. Throughout the entire visit, I was struck by their stalwart academic commitment.   And it appears to me, that the fundamental reason students attend school in China is to master the core curriculum. The extra-long school days and the six-day school week are normal and required for success.  A strong concentration on reading, math and science is the underpinning of the educational plan and essential for success when taking competitive (and often destiny controlling) national tests.  It also seems to me that student success in China is a product of a culture that prioritizes pure academic achievement over all other pursuits.  This success is partially due to the fact that students are engaged in the successful learning of the curriculum enhanced by carefully measured opportunities in the arts and athletics.

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When not attending a school visit or educational fair, immersion in China’s deep and unique history and ancient rituals claimed top priority.  I stood in Tiananmen Square, walked The Forbidden City, gazed at the 600 year old Temple of the Heavens – built without 1 nail, climbed the steps of The Great Wall, rode a cable car to the top of Qingcheng Mountain, photographed the Pandas, marveled at the 2000 year old Dujiang Yan Irrigation System, admired Olympic Stadium, ferried the West Lake, sampled traditional Chinese foods, drank tea, and shopped at Zhenzhu Pearl Market.  The trip was truly awe-inspiring.

During the flights back and still today, I continue to review the images and emotions from this trip.  I think about my discussions of Asian art, music, sculpture, wood-carving, calligraphy, symbolism, dance, and the engineering behind massive irrigation systems, Panda bears, family values and, of course, they many possible opportunities for CHC students and teachers.  I came home with a lasting appreciation for the Chinese people, the beauty and culture of their country and their unwavering commitment to the education of their children and their contributions to the enrichment of our world.

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