My Last Hop in China (For Now)

Article by Alessandro

Mahatma Ghandi once said; “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” This philosophy has followed me to this day; it has made me take risks, experience new sensations and make new friends. It has pushed me to strive for excellence and allowed me to appreciate my international education and the fellow students that have encouraged me for so many years.

I went to Primrose School in Dallas, to Ecole Bilingue in Paris, to Marymount International School in Rome, to Dulwich College in Shanghai and now here I am in Xi’an. Despite having only been at Hanova for less than two years, I feel that it has further changed me, giving me the final memories and a newfound energy to tackle the future—to live as if I were to die tomorrow.1-1

By now, you might have figured out that I’m a student. My name’s Alessandro and this is unfortunately my last year in Xi’an and in China (at least for now), as it appears that my journey through my primary and secondary education has come to an end and Hanova will be the last international school that set me on my university path. I’ve taken part in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) for the two short years that I’ve been here, and they really flew by. This article is one of the last things I am doing for a school and a city that have given me incredible opportunities, memories and knowledge, for which I am grateful.

Personally, I found that the DP courses are very challenging, and that’s why they are the best in my opinion. Their rigour, dependence and required commitment is what sets them apart from the rest, as the focus is not only on learning, but also on facing new challenges and opportunities to take risks and to have those risks rewarded. The goal of making students better-rounded more importantly serves to develop the students, even if they are still uncertain in what they want to be or do in the future. As Oscar Wilde once said; “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” This last experience in Xi’an is my stepping stone before going back to Europe, to develop my personality and refine my traits, to further explore my strengths, address my weaknesses and improve on a mass of other skills, such as communication.

This process of the evolution, adaptation and creation of my true self has benefitted me greatly, especially with regard to universities. My goal is to study mechanical engineering, and thanks to the support I received in school (by our committed university counsellor), I was able to easily navigate the UCAS (British university application system) application and avoid all of its pitfalls and traps, allowing me to choose between offers from the likes of University College London, University of Edinburgh and Southampton University.

However, this process had begun a little rough, as I was unwilling to move to Xi’an at first, coming from Shanghai. It was a different city, with different structures, culture and history. It was a new school, a different environment and I had no friends: however, after two short days visiting the city and the school, I was warmly welcomed as a Hanova student, without having enrolled yet! This community was embracing and supportive, making me want to embrace something new, take a leap outside of the comfort zone and strive for my betterment.

Striving for my betterment meant trying new activities in these two years (of course, the cultural experiences, the extracurricular activities and the education system were important as well). Having been brought up in an enriching, international environment, I was given a background that most people dream of. The daily interaction with new students, teachers and friends from diverse cultural and historical backgrounds in Europe, North America and China has made me appreciate how intricate and unfathomable the world is. And once you’ve experienced the international community, it is difficult to see the world in a closed-minded state; you’re open to so many possibilities that you can just jump into the pool of adventure, setting challenges for yourself along the way.

In addition to training in several sports (rugby, football, basketball, swimming, tennis, golf, karting, etc.), one of the most exciting activities that I undertook was participating in Hanova’s Model United Nations (MUN) club, not just to improve my university application, but to learn creative, communication and diplomacy skills. My rewarding event was the Yale University 2016 MUN conference, at which we were under the experienced guidance of Yale teachers and students who led us through heated discussions, controversial topics and creative solutions. Being part of the NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) Committee was a memorable experience, because of the topics discussed and of the interaction with students from Yale and other schools and universities. In the end, I was given the opportunity to learn new skills and make excellent new friends, a few of whom are still dear to my heart (and only a Facebook message away). This conference also gave me my first important award, the Best Delegate Award, leaving me something to remember my time at Hanova’s MUN club.1-2

So, lastly I leave you with one last reflection of my time here in Xi’an. After two years, I now like this city (especially during the mid-seasons), I love this school (as it gave me the tools to improve myself), I appreciate the friends – all these experiences undertaken while remaining true to myself. This is my last hop in China (for now), before going to universities and embarking on my professional career. However, I am mostly grateful for these last friends and experiences that it gave me, some which are hard to come by and even more difficult to replace. Referring back to Oscar Wilde, “I’m now myself, because I know everyone else is already taken,” and I am proud of how I got there.

Alessandro is a student at Havnova International School