At CKWA, I Have Found my Own Pace


An Exclusive Interview on Fledging Crane Scholarship Winner Sophia Li

Sophia Li, CKWA G9 student, is the fledgling crane scholarship winner of 2019-2020 academic year. Since joining CKWA in 2017, Sophia Li has demonstrated outstanding learning ability in the past two years. In the academic year of 2018 to 2019, she has achieved B1 (37) in CEPT, 149 in Math; in the second semester of the academic year, she got 8 As or A above.



Just as CV can only be used as a tool to show oneself to the labor market, the introduction as above can only tell that Sophia Li is an excellent kid. But the process of growth is not only the accumulation of scores, and education is not only the pile-up of knowledge. To really understand a kid, we should not only stay on the surface of the judgement. Our interview with Sophia Li starts from the issue of “good or bad” judgement.


From public school to international school——Escape from simple judgement


Sophia’s experience to walk on the international school path is a bit unusual. Coming to CKWA is not her parents’ idea. “The whole family believed that it was ok to read in public school from primary to secondary, and to local university”. However, when it comes to Grade 6, Sophia found that it wasn’t what she wanted.


“From day-to-day endless exercise papers, from foreseeable future life of GaoKao preparation——I feel this is no longer about accumulating and applying knowledge flexibly, but a mechanic and repetitive drill.” Sophia believes that if she continues to go down this path, “it will surely cultivate one’s competitive attitude and capacity with various constraints. But if there is room for choice, I would like to get closer to the essence of knowledge.”


“My primary school is a public school. At that time, achieving high score equals to high intelligence and great efforts; but after coming to CKWA, I gradually realize that learning is neither about how many scores you can achieve in mid-term exam or finals, nor about whether you can be the class leaders or awarded students. Using these simple standards to judge us, to draw the conclusion whether we are good or bad, usually makes the rich and multi-dimensional growth look superficial.



“At CKWA, the assessment on students is built on individual progress, creative thinking, learning attitude, language and behavior consistency, etc. At CKWA, learning is more like a life-long undertaking. This is also my biggest harvest here.”


“I have visited many international schools. I’ve had many new recognitions in the process of choosing school.” When she recalls her school-choosing experience two years ago, you can still see the excitement and subtle concerns in her eyes. “It is the first time for me to truly feel the intense competition. I find that there are so many outstanding peers just in Chaoyang District. It is shocking, and stressful.”


Thanks to her sincere learning passion and solid academic foundation, Sophia Li has successfully got the offer letters from quite a few international schools. To her, the education model of international school is a new possibility for life. Undoubtedly, CKWA has made her see the most promising and prosperous future.


“When I attended CKWA Open Day at that time, the campus hasn’t been fully established yet. But the facilities and resources were already very intriguing. My family totally supports me, and would like to believe CKWA, to give me a chance to try out this new possibility. Over the past two years, I’ve witnessed the establishment of the school, the improvement of teachers and curriculum. I feel like CKWA and me have been witnessing each other’s growth.”


Learning, more like a war of mentality


From the very beginning, learning has never been a deliberate task for me. When I was little, my family paid a lot of attention to my reading habit. We lived in Tongzhou for a long time. When it comes to weekends, my mom always brings me to the library in Xi Dan.



However, at work days, my parents are very busy, and usually come home late. At such times, I would first do homework on my own. When it comes to questions that I don’t know how to solve, I will ponder and do research on my own. If I still cannot think it out, I will write it down on a notebook, and ask teacher the next day. Although these are small habit, but the independent learning habits are formed gradually in this way.


Though Sophia is a kid whose academic performance is quite good in public primary school, she met a no small difficulties when she first came to CKWA. “There are so many things that I don’t understand in the English teaching environment, especially when it comes to specialized knowledge. I feel no difference from being blind.” Sophia said, smiling and acting out, “such a big and thick biology book, one page after another, I need to look up for almost every word except prepositions.”


There was a semester when 9 exams would take place in four days. At that time, Sophia would study till 3 to 4 am in the morning, and only slept for two to three hours. She would even fall asleep on school bus.



“It is too difficult. When I am too tired, I would think if I am still in public school, and do not need to communicate in English, and do not need to arrange my learning, would everything become much easier?” But after the test, I wouldn’t be so frustrated. “I would reflect: what reason made me spend more time than other people? I would analyze, and finally I found the root cause was my mentality.”


“I am desperate to do everything well. This motivation is ok. But if I crave for it too much, it will bring many negative influences. In the process of learning, especially in the preparation of standardized test, the key is to adjust the mentality. For me, most of the time, the experience of mentality adjustment is even more important than the final score.”


Now, Sophia would deliberately improve her learning mode. While maintaining good learning habits, it is necessary to have broader exchange with the world. “By the way, the school also has quite established mental health class and psychological counselors. Teacher Niu has taught me a lot of experience on time management and mentality adjustment, which has helped me a lot.”


After keeping up with the study, there are also difficulties on English context. People living on two different sides of the earth, despite the use of the same language, have much different understanding to many questions. “But now I gradually understand that as a world citizen, what CKWA cultivates is not simply the choice of east or west, but inclusiveness.”


Inclusiveness does not equal to tolerance. Inclusiveness is the result of empathetic understanding. CKWA stresses adaptability, that is, in such a multi-cultural and challenging environment, teach students how to analyze different subjects, cultivate students to be adaptable and enable to meet the challenges of future life.


Love drama, Love versatile Kaiwen more


The first sight of Sophia easily leaves people an impression that she is a gentle, quiet, and academically excellent girl. But when she vividly and passionately talks about her beloved drama, the interviewer began to feel surprised. Two years spent in Kaiwen perhaps may have really helped her achieve her original goal——escaping the simple judgement and finding her true calling.


Before coming to CKWA, Sophia had some sporadic experience in learning drama. “I love the feeling of a group of people striving together for the same goal and relying on each other for the seamless cooperation.” Sophia smiled and told us, looking at the floor, “but what I learnt before was not professional. I didn’t dare to speak or perform.”



At CKWA, in G7, arts, music and drama are compulsory class. “I like Omar very much from the first beginning. After getting to know each child’s foundation and their understanding of drama, he will give targeted guidance, lead us into the world of drama step by step, and let us notice our own progress. We will become bolder with the class moving forward. We will master the right way to voice and gain confidence gradually.”


Mr Omar (the third one from the right) and Sophia Li (the first from the right)


In the CKWA annual drama Once Upon a Stormy Night, Sophia played the role of the old witch, and successfully scared little kids into crying when she came on the stage. “I was wanting to play the little red riding hood, or maybe her grandma. I wanted to play a positive character.”


After knowing that she was assigned to play the role of the witch, she was not happy. “But I finally convinced myself. No matter it is a good guy or a bad guy, it is not easy to impress the audience. There are quite a few scenes for the role of witch, which is a challenge for myself, so I’d better take the role.” Apparently, she made it success.


You are not wrong. This is also Sophia Li.


About drama, she has her own thoughts. She believes that drama is an organic integrity. Therefore, all actors or actresses on the stage are closely connected, no matter it is prince, princess or the cart driver. Everyone plays a role, and that means everyone takes the same responsibility in ruining a drama or making it a success.


“The positive or negative characters I cared about earlier are actually the two parties that constitute the dramatic conflict of a drama. Constant rehearsal for me is gradually becoming a process to witness the balance of the two parties.”


Sophia Li and her drama partners


In the process of digging out her interests, Sophia is also digging out herself. “Instinctively, I want to be the best in any competitive events”, sometimes she will shoulder more responsibility for her competitiveness.


In the school, she directed the mid-term drama project “The new clothes of the Emperor”; she has also led the charity project for Giant Panda in Chongqing despite that she is not the eldest student in the group. “When the project is accomplished, and I went back home, I felt like a long time passed. I suddenly remembered that I was only 13 years old, where did I get the bravery to manage others. Thinking about this, I would feel a bit thrilled and amazed.”


“The new Clothes of the Emperor” Drama Group led by Sophia Li


About the past and the future, She says


“China has a very long history. It is not easy for China’s culture of several thousand years old to pass down till now. Technology is always pushing people to look forward, so we are always moving forward. But sometimes it is best to look back and learn from the ancient wisdom of China. The school is also advocating the philosophy of deep-rooted education. I believe Principal Xu is right. If you want to walk a long way steadfastly, you need to grasp the origin firmly.”



About the future:


“I am only fifteen. There are still a lot of things that I want to try. There is no need to set any limit. I hope to walk step by step.”


It is not only me, but a lot of friends around me, even most of the society, who will be stuck into the trap of constant comparison with others. I always feel that there are too many people who are more excellent than me. On the one hand, this recognition pushes me to make progress; on the other side, it also puts me into anxiety.


What I try to achieve is to alleviate my anxiety and try to learn how to be content and satisfied, and treasure what I have now. Everyone is making judgement and do things based on one’s own experience and ideas. The most important thing is to believe in yourself and find your own pace.”



“At CKWA, I feel I am gradually finding my own pace.” said Sophia Li.