Andy (Jeonghyeon) Park, an XLIS student, receives an offer from Yonsei University, a SKY University in Korea.
Our XLIS Secondary Team are overjoyed to hear that Andy (Jeonghyeon) Park gained acceptance to one of Korea’s three most elite (SKY)) universities. The SKY universities are the Ivy League Universities of Korea and include Seoul, Korea, and Yonsei Universities. Admission to these schools is highly competitive, and only the brightest academic students gain acceptance. Andy will read Chemical Biomolecular Engineering at Yonsei, which is a highly selective major. Andy will consider possible alternative options to study Bio-Medical Science at Hong Kong University or Singapore National University after the release of the IB Diploma Programme results in July. The future looks very bright for this young XLIS graduate who is guaranteed a position at one of Asia’s top universities.
This acceptance at Yonsei is impressive, and a source of pride for our IB Diploma Programme (DP) teachers and all of our secondary teachers and students as Andy has studied with us for his entire high school career. I intended to interview Andy for an article before hearing this news about his prestigious university acceptance. The subject of my writing was not about academic success but international-mindedness. Recently, I had the incredible pleasure to supervise the DP Week-Without-Walls trip to the QIngling Mountains. The trip took place after Andy and the other members of the class of 2021 graduated. My big take-away from the trip was about how impressively internationally-minded our DP students are. As a leader, I was impressed by how Andy embraced local culture, cuisine, and dialect and led other students to demonstrate open-mindedness in embracing culture. Andy is at a high level of Chinese speaking, reading, writing, and not only does he converse in fluent (textbook) Chinese, but he recognizes and embraces local dialects, as was the case in Foping. The locals were highly impressed by Andy’s risk-taking and willingness to try communicating in their dialect. Andy demonstrates curiosity and the traits of a life-long learner.
Recently, I sat down with Andy and asked him how he developed this international outlook, and I asked him if he had always embraced the Chinese language and culture. Andy said that he had been an international student for a long time and learned to adjust and love the cultures and subcultures of China. He spent grade 3 in Suzhou at one international school and grade 4 -7 in Shanghai at another international school and grade 7 and 8 in the Manila, Philippines and his third international school. Finally, he spent his whole high school career from MYP 4 (grade 9) to DP 1 (grade 12) at XLIS, the premier international school in Xian. So global life was not just a short stint for Andy and his family but rather, a lifestyle. Along with the global lifestyle came the skills of adopting a learner’s mindset. He said that the Week-Without-Walls trip with his classmates earlier this month was about cherishing every moment before leaving China, leaving friends, and heading to University. When asked if he would return to China someday, Andy replied, “Absolutely and hopefully soon for travel. After that, who knows what the future holds.”
As well as receiving academic awards and accolades, Andy was the recipient of the 2021 XLIS International Mindedness and the Student Council Leader Awards. As the Secondary Principal, I am the high school and middle school student councils supervisor and have worked with Andy as he played a lead role on the student council every semester for four years. Andy has been an essential voice as an advocate for inclusivity and furthering the connections of all students through language. In addition, he has supported and led significant fundraising activities and independently-run Extra-Curricular Activities (ECAs) as part of his MYP Service and Action and DP Creativity Activity Service. Andy is a generous leader who listens to others’ voices and models inclusion. He believes in the IB Mission “People with their differences can also be right,” and this attitude has been pervasive on our student council.
As a successful XLIS graduate who will be attending the University of his dreams, I asked Andy, recognized as a leader, who embodies the traits of our mission and vision (internationally-minded and community-focused), what advice do you have for other XLIS students?
He encourages them to take advantage of the fact that students are appreciated and enabled to initiate activities at XLIS. Andy said that student agency and student-led action are encouraged at XLIS, unlike other schools and systems. The most motivating activities Andy has experienced have been student-led, and he has had opportunities to contact other schools and help co-lead events, initiate ideas, and make purpose-driven decisions. These activities have been powerful and confidence-building for him. He has been able to lead younger children through a fitness and boxing ECA. He led tutoring and science club and led some action, independently attending Little Fish NGO with friends and classmates.
After four years as a resident in Xi’an, Andy has headed back to his native Korea. I asked him what he will miss most about Xi’an and XLIS: “I have thought about this a lot recently, and I know what I will miss. I will miss the people. I have met good people here. I haven’t done anything extraordinary, but people are extra nice to me, and I don’t even know why. I haven’t done so much to deserve their care and fondness.” said Andy. His words express the humility that we have come to expect from Andy. He added that he had loved his service involvement and “I will continue with service, and wherever I go, I will look for opportunities to serve.”
Every year we celebrate our graduates with heavy hearts. We are proud of them, we love them, and we will miss them. Wishing Andy Jeonghyeon Park all the success in the world as he embarks on his university journey.
Author: Daun Yorke (Secondary Principal)