At Wellington College International Hangzhou, we aspire to create a caring, international community that develops well-rounded individuals with strong values and the skills and identity to thrive within an ever-changing world. In fact, this is our vision statement. Community is at the centre of all we do at Wellington, and we continuously strive to work together with our parents, staff and pupils to develop that strong sense of community that makes international schools unique. In this series of ‘We Are Wellington’ articles, we aim to tell the stories of those families and highlight the special contributions they make to our community.
This week’s article in the series is from the mother of Ethan (Year 3), who shares her reflections on being both a founding parent and Chair of the Friends of Wellington (FOW), as well as discussing how her son Ethan has changed and grown during his time here.
The importance of parent involvement
Thanks to the trust and support of the school and our beloved parents, the FOW have played an active role in supporting a range of events since the founding year of Wellington College International Hangzhou. In my opinion, the most exciting and impressive events held in our community over the past year included the Summer Carnival, the Festival of Education, and the Christmas celebrations, including tree lighting ceremonies at five star hotels in Hangzhou.
In the founding year, most events were organized by the school’s academic and non-academic teams, with FOW playing more of a “supporting” role. Our FOW members, for example, have helped publicize school events in parent WeChat groups and on personal social media accounts. In this new academic year, the FOW continue to gain experience in taking on more “active” roles as we organize community events ourselves.
It is not an easy job for FOW members to juggle their many responsibilities, and often we find ourselves worrying that we will not receive the expected number of parents at our events. Fortunately, though, the Wellington community is so passionate and united by our shared values that the FOW always receives the support and encouragement needed to make each event a success. Working with such a group of dedicated and warm-hearted parents, especially as they used their personal time after work to contact sponsors for our annual FOW gala, has given me a stronger sense of belonging to the community.
Our goal is to create a vibrant international community in Hangzhou. To make this goal a reality, our children not only follow the English National Curriculum, but also learn about the diverse cultures and lifestyles of this globalised world by interacting with parents and community members at our FOW events.
As a founding parent, I am proud to have witnessed the growth of our community. I believe that parent involvement in children’s school life is a significant part of their education as we ourselves learn more about how they grow and develop over time.
Changes in personality and discovering new interests
My husband and I chose Wellington College International Hangzhou for our son Ethan because the Wellington values and identities are in line with our expectations for our child. I expect him to grow into a man with a well-rounded personality, strong interpersonal skills and interests in different academic and non-academic fields.
The school not only provides world-class education and campus facilities to its pupils, but also incorporates the well-rounded development of pupils within its curriculum, manifested in the school’s pastoral system and wellbeing programme. For these reasons, we chose Wellington College International Hangzhou without hesitation.
I did not expect for Ethan’s personality or academic performance to change so noticeably after only one year of study at Wellington, but my husband and I have seen how he has, in fact, changed, in many positive ways.
One obvious change is his personality. He used to be a boy who accepted and followed along with other people’s opinions, while now he shares his own ideas on his life and studies. He constantly tells me what he wants and what he dislikes.
Ethan has also become more inclusive. Studying and living in a multinational environment, he has had to learn how to adapt to different cultures, languages and practices. At first, I was a bit worried as to how he would get along with the other pupils and teachers, but to my surprise, he not only made friends with pupils in his class, but those in other years. Through these experiences, he has become more comfortable – and even confident – when talking to strangers, rather than shy and hesitant as he used to be. Such an inclusive personality, and the ability to talk to people of all identities and backgrounds, are crucial to his future development as both a pupil and global citizen.
In addition to these positive changes in his character, Ethan’s one year of study at Wellington has allowed him to find and explore his passions for language learning and drama. Ethan loves reading English books at home and even writes in English in his spare time. After attending his first drama class, moreover, he discovered his passion for this subject, practicing as much as he could on stage and drafting scripts at home.
This personal and academic growth would not have occurred without the guidance and encouragement of his teachers. I have always been impressed by the level of attention and care that Wellington teachers invest in each of their pupils. They carefully observe each pupil’s reactions both inside and outside the classroom, evaluating their command of the curriculum, their emotional development, physical and mental wellbeing, personality and co-curricular skills. By observing each pupil’s strengths and weaknesses, the teachers are able to provide individualised guidance to different pupils, ensuring they can fulfill their potential and become well-rounded individuals.