My colleagues and I have just returned from China having met with a number of current families who have chosen St. Margaret’s as the place for their daughters to continue their education abroad. It seems rather strange that we traveled over 9000 km (12 hours) West to get to the Far East!! While travelling through Shanghai, Nanchang and Beijing, there was a blend of profound heritage with modern charisma; architecture reflective of global cultures; an abundance of cars, bicycles, rickshaws and people all trying to navigate the congested roadways; trendy fashion malls adjacent to traditional open-stall markets; and intermixed among the domestic signage were the familiar Apple, Nike, McDonalds and yes, Starbucks logos reminding you the world is smaller than you think. Although not so comfortable with the language, the people were extraordinarily helpful and gracious as we attempted to say wei (hello), and xie xie (thank you).
We also had the opportunity to visit a comprehensive high school in Nanchang (4500 students from grades 10 – 12) on a very large and beautiful campus. I was impressed with the purposeful focus of the students and was honoured that my visit was broadcasted in neon lights at the front of the school (where else would a Head of School be greeted as a movie star with lots of photo ops!!). In chatting with the teachers, it was clear that they recognized the importance of providing every student with a foundation for life-long development including a strong work ethic. It was a pleasant surprise to see the following values posted throughout the school (none of which are dissimilar to what we want to achieve at SMS):
• To promote multiple-intelligence development to allow students to develop their own individual talents;
• To promote individualized attention and guidance to meet the need and to develop the potential of individual students;
• To integrate high technology sciences and the arts to allow students to adjust well in a competitive global society;
• To organize significant social service to let students experience real life;
• To encourage the development of a good character and healthy personality.
All in all, I and the SMS team (Kathy Charleson - Director of Admissions and Gregg Wiltshire -Development Coordinator) had a fabulous and most productive trip to China. A special thank you to Mr. Frank Zhu - father of Garbo who acted as our translator and provided guidance, wisdom and some needed humour regarding cultural nuances. I would also like to extend my appreciation to the many families who welcomed us with open hearts. We feel privileged that you have entrusted your daughters to St. Margaret's.