Chinese and English are two of the most commonly used languages in the world. Beyond this commonality they are quite different, especially when it comes to writing. Like other Western languages English uses an alphabet. Chinese on the other hand uses logograms, which are written characters that represent not only words but also entire phrases.
You might be surprised to learn that while Chinese uses a different writing system, it doesn’t require a specifically Chinese keyboard to do so. This is accomplished through the pinyin system, which was developed by linguists in the 1950s to standardize the Romanization of Chinese. This standard was adopted by the ISO (International Standards Organization) in 1982 and by the UN in 1986.
The linguists who developed pinyin likely had no idea what a big role pinyin would play in modern life. Pinyin is now the go to computer input method throughout China and Taiwan since it allows users to input Chinese writing using the Latin keyboard that comes standard on a lot of desktop and mobile devices.
Technology can have a hand in shaping culture. Pinyin played a big role in paving the way to China’s modernization by offering a standard to support intercultural communication. Likewise, technology is still shaping the Chinese language, as young people are reaching back to classical forms to fuel the modern need for speedy communication. This was explained to me recently by WLSA’s very own Myrle de Swart.
“Young people sometimes use classical Chinese expressions when texting. In modern Chinese most of the words have two syllables, two characters, but classical Chinese has one syllable so it’s shorter. They use classical phrases to type so you can say the whole sentence with four characters.” Myrle de Swart Events & Programs Coordinator at WLSA
Myrle knows a thing or two about languages since she speaks nine of them, including her native Dutch as well as English, Chinese, German, French, ancient Greek, and Latin.
We recently had a chance to catch up with Roland, a WLSA Semester Abroad participant from Uganda who is a student at the African Leadership Academy (ALA) outside Johannesburg, South Africa. Roland travelled to Shanghai as part of his exchange.
Roland had a big decision following his time at the ALA and chose to pursue a Semester Abroad at WLSA’s Fudan Academy so he could gain a wider understanding of international education.
“When I studied at the African Leadership Academy, my colleague, who is one year below me, once discussed with me about the issues that restrict our country. The major problem was the education. I was wondering what we can do to really improve the education system.”
By learning how to see things through a different perspective, Roland reflected back on the problems with education in his home country and took a solution oriented approach, focusing on devising strategies that could improve conditions for students and local education more broadly.
In doing so Roland started a project in Uganda that offers college counselling and university application help to local students.
“We were receiving lots of applications from my friends back home. They wanted to apply abroad, but they were not sure about the process about applying abroad. My project is as an intermediary between students and colleges, or the programs they want to apply to, as you have college counselling here. Local high schools in Uganda do not have strong college counselling. We are their college counsellors, we teach them about the SATs and a lot of things.”
Kudos to you Roland! What a great way to turn perspective and leadership into practice.
On the more pragmatic side of things, when we asked Roland about the differences between Shanghai and his home in Uganda, he had some observations to share about the weather:
“The temperature difference between the two countries is very big. My country is always in summer. Living here is cold.”
And (more importantly) about the food:
“I love Dumplings. I never tried them before I came here.”
WLSA offers Semester Abroad opportunities for students of our Associate Schools. Applications for the 2018 program will open soon so stay tuned.
Our Director of Operations & Partnerships Natalie Smith is visiting with member schools in the UK this week. She started the week visiting Winchester College, a school that’s been in its present location for over 600 years! It was founded in 1382 and had a curriculum based primarily on classics until the 1860s when the curriculum was modernized and now provides a broad and well rounded education to some 600 students. What an incredible background.
On Wednesday Natalie toured the grounds and facilities of Cheltenham Ladies’ College, the school where our newest Chair Eve Jardine-Young is currently Principal.
Cheltenham Ladies’ College, founded in 1853, is located on the edge of the Cotswalds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With beautifully landscaped grounds and stately buildings, Cheltenham Ladies’ College is itself outstandingly beautiful.
On Tuesday Natalie spent some time getting to know the Millfield School in the south west of England. Located in the county of Somerset, the Millfield School was founded almost a hundred years ago when a house built by the family who owned the Clarks shoe company was converted into a school for seven Indian boys, six of whom were princes. That’s quite a history. Millfield is now the largest co-educational boarding school in the UK.
Finally, to close off a busy week of learning Natalie headed to Tonbridge School, another very well established independent boarding and day school that was founded in 1553. With a very strong house system and personal attention dedicated to each student, Tonbridge certainly merits its reputation as one of the leading boarding schools in the UK. No doubt an inspiring close to a week full of affirming and enriching experiences with our member schools in the UK.
Thank you to everyone who took the time this week to make Natalie’s visits everything they could be.
While WLSA provides the support the efforts of students themselves are key to their own success. Their efforts along with the support and opportunities received at WLSA Fudan Academy helped them each earn a full scholarship to a prestigious American university.
Sunny Ma comes from Guangxi Province, the southeast of China. Sunny had dreams of experiencing the world outside of her small town. With the help of Fudan Academy she earned a full scholarship to Stanford University.
Quote from Sunny:
“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!” ——Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl
Kelly Gang will be attending Princeton University with full financial aid.
Kelly is a scholarship student from Jilin Province. She transferred to WLSA Fudan Academy in Grade 11 and has not only maintained top grades in nearly all her courses, she also co-founded an electrical engineering club, attended a macromolecular research program in Fudan University, performs in opera in her spare time, and is a table tennis maverick and mentor.
Quote from Kelly: Always be true to yourself
Timbo Shi will be attending Cornell University with full financial aid.
Timbo is an ambitious student from Guangxi. He attended Fudan Academy in 2015 after receiving a scholarship granted by WLSA. Distressed by the appalling environmental conditions and food security problems in his hometown, he determined to learn so he could one day change the situation. He’s certainly well on his way to that noble goal.
Quote from Timbo: "The reason why a great man is great is that he resolves to be a great man."
Best of luck to you Sunny, Kelly, and Timbo!
We are very happy to announce that two new associate schools will be joining the World Leading Schools Association. The Brearley School is an independent day school founded in 1884 in New York. With course offerings in Greek, Latin, and Mandarin, technology assisted learning, and many notable alumni, Brearley has carved out a well-earned reputation for excellence in education. Welcome Brearley School.
Also joining WLSA is The Emerald Heights International School, one of the top schools in India and recipient of significant international and regional acclaim and awards. Emerald Heights is a leader in education and also the first WLSA associate from India. Welcome to WLSA Emerald Heights.
We are very excited to have both these new associates on board as we enter the new year.