Meet the teachers that make our Chinese programme outstanding

Chinese New Year is nearly here and campus is looking beautifully bright and red. As we make final preparations for our celebratory events on Thursday and Friday, we thought it the perfect opportunity to highlight some of our Chinese studies teachers. Look out for them around the College as they lead the school in the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Helena Hicks

Director of Chinese Studies


Ruya He: Coordinator for second language Chinese and teacher of Chinese

“One of my teachers changed my life… and made me want to try and do the same thing for young learners.”

Before Wellington: I got my Master’s degree in education in the US and my Bachelor’s degree in Language Arts from Shanghai International Studies University, China’s famous university for studying international language and culture.

I got into teaching because: One of my teachers changed my life. Thanks to him I went from a girl who didn’t even want to read a book, to one who became very knowledgeable about Chinese language and history. His ability to guide pupils, showing great fairness, knowledge and humour made me want to try and do the same thing for young learners.

Outside of school: I love to travel, one of my favourite places ever is Austria, because it’s so clear and beautiful. I also enjoy reading history books. Since history is often repeating itself, it is always relevant when trying to understand human society and culture. I especially like Chinese ancient history as well as British history. Whenever I visit famous places, I like to know that my knowledge of history can help me understand the importance of where I am standing.

I can’t wait for CNY at Wellington because: The Temple Fair is going to be amazing! I’m very much looking forward to the dumplings and traditional soft candies spun into shapes (I’m going to ask for a dragon).


Sarah Qian: Coordinator of beginners level Mandarin

“I think the three most important elements for a great CNY are: ‘get together’ ‘red’ and ‘a good start’.”

Before Wellington: I graduated from East China Normal University majoring in international Chinese studies. In 2012 I went to Florida, teaching Chinese as a foreign language. I loved being in the “Sunshine State”, because working in a different culture really broadened my experience as a teacher and person.

My inspiration for teaching: It’s been my dream to be a teacher since I was a little girl. My mother and many of my other relatives were teachers, so I knew from an early age what a great job it is to teach.

Outside of school: I’m a huge movie buff, I watch movies almost every weekend: to relax or explore themes and ideas about our society and human nature. I’m a fan of western movies as well as Chinese ones. I also love reading history stories because history is a mirror of our modern times that we can use to learn more about our circumstances today.

I can’t wait for CNY at Wellington because: It’s such a special time for everyone to get together. 1 billion people will be travelling to reunite with their families – the largest annual migration of people in the world! This kind of commitment to celebrating with the people who are special to you is a very important lesson for Wellington pupils to learn, especially given their international background.


Dolly Yang: Teacher of Chinese and coordinator for Pre-Prep

“Being together and celebrating our past achievements and future hopes makes Chinese New Year a wonderful time of year.”

Before Wellington: Since graduating from Nanjing Normal University in 1998, I have been teaching. I also did an exchange programme with Wellington College in the UK, which was great fun and a fantastic experience.

Teaching Chinese inspires me because: I love working with children and seeing them learn and progress. Teaching has been an essential part of my life and I think it was always a very natural path for me to take.

Chinese cultural pursuits: I enjoy Chinese literature and movies. My current favourite movie is ‘The Youth’, directed by Feng Xiaogang. It was previously banned and just released earlier this year. It’s a story of a PLA Art Troupe going through the conflicts of late 70s and middle 80s in China, which has been very emotional to watch.

I can’t wait for CNY at Wellington because: It’s such a special time for everyone in the community. Being together and celebrating our past achievements and future hopes makes Chinese New Year a wonderful time of year. I’m helping to lead the Pre-Prep CNY performance, which is a huge undertaking, but I know that the children are going to do a fantastic job.


Sherry Xiao: Coordinator of foundation level Mandarin

“Chinese New Year is such an important time for China, and whether you’re Chinese or from anywhere else in the world, we all come together to celebrate.”

Before Wellington: I graduated from East China Normal University and worked in another international school for 10 years before joining Wellington Shanghai in 2014.

I got into teaching because: My mum was a big inspiration for me; she was a primary school teacher for almost 40 years before she retired. I still remember when I used white chalk to pretend to teach like her by writing on the walls and the floor! I love the challenge of engaging young minds and watching the light bulb come on when a new idea clicks for them.

My Chinese cultural pursuits: Chinese language and culture are very closely linked, which is why I love reading Chinese books. My favourite is ‘1587, A Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline’ by Ray Huang, published in 1981. It’s quite old but when I first read it the style of writing was very new in China. It’s a fascinating account of how a number of seemingly insignificant events in 1587 might have caused the downfall of the Ming dynasty.

I can’t wait for CNY at Wellington because: The school becomes so beautiful and colourful, and everyone always has a lot of fun! We’ve been practising calligraphy, making CNY decorations and learning how to make delicious dumplings.


Caroline Zhang: Coordinator for native level Chinese

“We all have differences in background and culture, but if we listen to each other more, we can understand each other better.”

Before Wellington: I’ve worked in different international and local schools in Shanghai for the past 23 years.

I chose to teach because: I’ve always enjoyed working with children and helping them understand and express themselves. Chinese is a very difficult and subtle language but it’s very good for helping young people share their thoughts and experiences with others intelligently. We publish a Chinese magazine and as the Editor-in Chief I hope to give pupils a platform to share whatever is on their mind.

Chinese cultural favourites: I’m a history fan so I’d have to say that my favourite piece of Chinese culture would be the Shiji, the grand historical records of Sima Qian, who was essentially one of the first creators of imperial China. It’s an incredible book that dates back to 94 BC and tells the story of China’s foundation and development over 2500 years. Don’t try and read it in one sitting!

I can’t wait for CNY at Wellington because: It’s an amazing time for having fun while learning about Chinese culture. My classes have been busy learning about Chinese celebrations, comparing them with western ones. It’s so important for children to understand that even though we all have differences in background and culture, we should always be respectful and come together to celebrate and transcend those differences.


Annie Wang: Deputy Director of Chinese Studies

“Language is a key that anyone can use to unlock a different culture.”

Before Wellington: I have always loved experimenting with language, as well as, reading and writing so I chose to major in language studies and applied linguistics at university. I’ve been teaching in different international schools for the last 16 years.

I love teaching languages because: Language is an adventure and a key that anyone can use to unlock a different culture. I help pupils find these keys for themselves and unlock their own personal adventures, exploring the many cultures of our world.

The importance of language in Chinese culture: I love the novels by Qian Zhong Shu, and my favourite female author is Bing Xin. The language in her books is very beautiful. These two writers represent just how expressive and moving the Chinese language can be. It’s a vital part of our culture and heritage, as the poetry, novels, histories and legends play a huge part in forming the language we use today.

I can’t wait for CNY at Wellington because: The whole campus turns bright red! I’ll have organised many of the decorations in the classrooms, corridors, the trees outside, everywhere. I also can’t wait to hold the opening for the Pre-Prep stage performance together with Miss Yang, the audience will love what our pupils have prepared, I’m sure.