By Colin Jun
SMICMUN V was held at SMIC Private School on October 27th from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Under the theme “Unraveled Tapestry”, veterans, beginners and middle school delegates from various international school discussed eight topics. Since its establishment, SMICMUN has consistently emphasized the importance of giving delegates more practice in the Security Council; therefore 6 out of 8 issues were addressed in Security Councils and the Historical Security Council. The two other topics discussed in newly created middle school committees are the Environmental Commission and UNESCO. The issues in middle school committees (Global Waste Trade, Technology) were both on social matters instead of political issues so the delegates could have a smoother introduction into the MUN program.
Among all the delegates and chairs who participated in the conference, SASPD was one of the most significant contributors. 8 chairs and 20 delegates attended SMICMUN V. Many SASPD delegates became main submitters of resolutions discussed in their committee. At the end of SMICMUN V, our high school and middle school delegates received a majority of Best Delegate Awards and Outstanding Delegate Awards.
Mr. Jordan Finch, one of Pudong’s MUN Directors, said, “[SASPD delegates] were incredible. Everybody was positive and proactively involved. SMICMUN is perceived as the beginning conference. I was impressed with the quality and the passion of our team. Everybody was cheering and clapping – it was great to watch.”
Many of the delegates and chairs also had positive feedbacks towards the conference. A middle school delegate, Irene, described her experience at SMICMUN as “really great.”
“No one had like huge egos, and it made me felt comfortable to speak more and present my ideas because for some reason I feel like no one is going to ask me to mean POIs,” Irene said. “Everyone was collaborative.”
Chairs also had good feedback on the conference and each committee. Angela Dai, deputy chair of Environmental Commission from SMIC said, “It was my first time charing, and I was afraid that, as EC was a middle school conference, the discussion would be stagnant. It wasn’t, though, and it was really interesting to see their thinking processes reflected in the speeches, POIs and amendments they contributed and how they tried to work around restrictions UN had regarding power and sovereignty.”
By Colin Jun
PD Day was planned on Friday, but nobody expected we would have the two-day break on November 5th and November 6th. The announcement of November Break became official on October 15th through the school email sent to the parents. Our school is not the only institution subject to this break. All schools, offices and firms in Shanghai will also have the days off. The decision was made by the Shanghai Municipal Office, as the China International Import Expo is scheduled to happen from November 5th to November 10th. According to Shanghai Journal, the Shanghai Municipal Office explained November Break would allow citizens to be less impacted by expo or traffic caused by the exhibition. The arrival of President of China also contributed to this change in schedule. President Xi is arriving in Shanghai on November 5th to attend the first China International Import Expo.
The response of students about November Break was positive as it provides a break time or revision time to the students before the huge assignments (such as the extended essay).
Min Jun Kim, in 12th grade, expressed his feelings towards November Break, saying “yahoo! It is so exciting.”
Max Cho, a 9th grader, said, “I like it. Although it is sad, I have to stay in Shanghai.”
Some people are already planning how they will use their sudden holiday.
Brian Kim in 12th grade said, “I will use this time to write my statements as the due date is coming. I will also focus revising on HL subjects.”
Of course, not all people are welcoming this change in schedule and November Break.
“Your normal life pattern is distracted,” one teacher said. “I don’t think this is great for us. For local people, this change in schedule will be good as it provides time for them to take a look at the expo. But for the teachers, the changed schedule does not provide time to take a look at this expo.” (According to Shanghai Journal, China International Import Expo is open to the citizens only on November 9th and 10th.)
SAS decided to make November 5th an official holiday (moving PD Day to Saturday) and November 6th as the virtual learning day. On November 6th, the students are supposed to study their class materials through Schoology or other online platform assigned by the teachers.
For IB students, the due date for Extended Essay is still November 7th. Therefore, students may use the break to finish up the extended essay. For seniors, the due date for some university applications, such as universities in Hong Kong and the University of California, will come soon after November Break so some students might use the break to catch up on applications.
By Cynthia Wang
OCTOBER 16th - A new club managing position has been filled by high school social studies teacher Matthew Clapp.
Having joined SAS Pudong just last year, Mr. Clapp is excited to take on this position, citing several club-related positions that he has held in the previous schools he worked in. "I've always been involved in other schools that I've worked in," he said, "whether as a club advisor or [a manager] for a group of clubs.
So far, Mr. Clapp has hosted one meeting during break last Friday with representatives from all clubs. He introduced a spreadsheet where club executives can fill in their club name, executive officers' names, faculty advisor name, and regular meeting location. They also can categorize their club as a service, charitable, or interest club - a new procedure that Mr. Clapp believes would assist in organizing existing clubs and making the system more sustainable.
"Just trying to help make sure that we have a vibrant, rich club program," Clapp said, "but at the same time, one that is sustainable, one that's going to last for current students involved."
Clapp also confirmed that plans are underway for a new club approval system as to avoid overlap and club sustainability, specifically pertaining to the issue of clubs dying off as senior executives graduate.
"That's my hope for the second half of the year," he said, "just trying to figure out how we can make this program sustainable so that clubs continue and that we don't have ten clubs doing the same thing. We want to eliminate some of the overlap, consolidate clubs if that’s needed, while at the same time allowing kids to really find what they are interested in and have a club that they could call their own."
Clapp says that he is "excited about the position, excited to see the ideas that students bring to the table," and is hopeful that "a better sense of community [can be built] through the club work."
By Cynthia Wang
OCTOBER 6th 2018 – At around 8:15 AM, the doors to the big gym opened as Mrs. Barinni swept out, quickly sorting through students and designating test takers to their respective rooms.
The vast majority of students were taking the SAT with Essay in the big gym, while students taking SAT Subject Tests were allocated to the side gym, leaving the SAT without Essay students to Ms. Betzabeth’s room in the Spanish hallway.
As students entered the gym, many were anxious, more of them cold. Junior Grace Chen said that she could only think about how the gym was “so cold.”
Senior Steven Shi said, “I really hope I do well,” echoing the prayers of all test-takers as they began their tests.
“I felt quite anxious,” says Junior Karen Hu, “and I repeatedly questioned myself: Will it be hard? I think I’m going to fail.”
When asked about his feelings after the test, Shi said, “I felt nothing. Being in the midst of college application season, I have become numb to all these “challenges.” The SAT is not a beast and if you start early and put in some effort you can finish in a few months with a score you desire.”
Shi advises sophomores and juniors to begin preparing early, warning them against procrastination, matching the words of Hu. She said, “The only way to be prepared is to be patient. Do a bunch of SAT practice tests and make sure you persist in your practice for a long period of time.”
Juniors Deborah Chiao and Grace Chen say that they will definitely retake the SAT with Essay, both setting their eyes upon the upcoming March SAT. Shi, on the other hand, is fairly satisfied with his scores.
“It was a box I had to check, and I did. I’m moving on to the next step: college essays."
By Grace Deng
At the start of the new school year, three SAS students launched SA Share, an essay database allowing students to upload and download past work. Currently, SA Share’s database has around 60 files.
Ally Zhu, who founded SA Share along with senior Jason Xu and SAS alumni Jony Liu, said she first thought of the idea in junior year, after using another person’s IB math independent assessment to help her write her own.
“This is a platform that could bridge the gap and make student work more accessible for everybody, without making it reliant on connections or whether you have friends in the upperclassmen years,” said Zhu, a freshman at Brown University this year.
Senior Rena Jiang, who uploaded English papers and chemistry labs to SAshare, believes the service is a good idea.
“I like the idea of it,” Jiang said in a direct message, calling it “very wholesome.” She added she feels people would “like uploading” because it lets “people publish the stuff they’re proud of,” allowing other people to use it as references.
However, Jiang believes the cost of the service may be a “turn-off” and a reason students won’t use the service.
If students wish to download an essay from SA Share’s website, they pay a fee of 5 RMB.
Uploaders receive 2 RMB every time someone downloads their work. Transactions are all done through WeChat.
A senior who wished to remain unnamed as some of his friends are involved in SA Share said he disapproves of the required fee.
“I personally hate the idea because I don’t have enough disposable income for that,” he said through a direct message. “This stops peer collaboration because everyone’s gonna be going for the money, and honestly I think it’s just morally somewhat sketchy.”
SA Share’s website says the money not given to uploaders is funneled into maintaining the website, and co-founder Jason Xu believes “SAshare is as morally sketchy as sample work you receive.” (Xu no longer works for SAshare because he initially joined due to his interest in code, but has lately felt like he has too much going on).
“If you can’t pay for five kuai, how can you pay for Shanghai American School?” Zhu said.
Other concerns raised by students include plagiarism and lack of originality.
While Zhu said plagiarism concerns are being discussed with Dr. Lee, Dr. Lee said in an email that Zhu had not discussed SAshare with him other than a “brief conversation” about what he said Zhu called “just an idea.”
“I’ve reached out to the SAshare folks and hope to hear back from them,” Dr. Lee said. “Looking through their site, I see a number of reasons for concern. It is (and always has been) very easy for people who want to plagiarize to do so.”
Xu agrees with Dr. Lee that SAshare may make it easier to plagiarize, but he says SAshare still deserves to exist.
“It’s not SAshare that has malicious intent, it’s the people who choose to use it as a source of plagiarism,” said Xu. “We tried making it so that we limit plagiarism by only featuring content that is unique and difficult to replicate,” providing examples such as not uploading TOK essays, which are easy to copy because the prompt is the same for everyone.
By Cynthia Wang
SEPTEMBER 22 - From 6 AM to 10 PM last Saturday, robotics teams from SAS Pudong, SAS Puxi, and BISS Puxi attended SAS Puxi's 16 Hour Build event. Puxi advertises the event as "an opportunity for students interested in robotics to be guided through robot-building and tournament structure." Within 16 hours, students from the three schools are mixed into random teams, then guided in building a robot that will be able to accomplish a certain number of tasks, after which a mini tournament would take place.
President of the Pudong FTC team Michael Lin said Puxi "spent a lot more time designing the game" this year as opposed to the year before, citing a picture of the game objectives and scoring elements, as shown below.
Junior Ian Huang joined robotics this year and, after participating in the 16 Hour Build, gave us some of his reflections on the event. He said that the Build "gave [him] a lot of insight [in]to the nature of robotics." He recognized that robotics "is not only just about building and programming, it is a team effort where communication and collaboration are essential in achieving your team's goal."
In particular, Ian commented on the team scrambling, stating that it was "what made the experience worth it." According to Ian, team scrambling placed participants "with four of five other strangers and in the next 16 hours, [they] would have to work as a team to build, measure, program, and test the robot in order for it to be able to compete."
Michael Lin also spoke of a highlight of the competition: a bet involving a lunch date.
"If a team [filled the letter A on the game field] with scoring elements, they get a lunch date with a Puxi exec," Michael said. The teams "in the finals…[ended up] collaborating to fill the A," Michael continued, winning them a lunch date with Puxi robotics president Sammy Levin.
Although the bet took away from the competitive element of the tournament, Michael said that "it ended the event [in] a good spirit," elaborating that "collaboration at the 16 Hour Build was more valuable than winning," as the event allowed "for students from different schools to get to know each other better."
By Cynthia Wang
As online education becomes increasingly popular, it is worthwhile to address the offered online programs in Shanghai American School: VHS, Pamoja, and Global Online Academy. Currently, in grades 11 and 12, there are 16 students taking VHS, 13 in Pamoja Education, and 12 in Global Online Academy. This makes for a grand total of around 16.67% of SAS juniors and seniors enrolled in online courses. Such courses just kicked in at the beginning of September and online students were greeting their global classmates for the first time. And in the midst of preparation for these courses, some students say their expectations are far from reality.
Starting her second year in an IB Pamoja course, senior Midi Jin said she expected that the lessons would be “similar to our normal classes in SAS,” except with “a lot of videos with teachers talking." However, she said the courses only provide students “with materials and videos from YouTube," essentially creating a "self-study" course. However, junior Brandy Wen says that there are "more group work and discussion" tasks than she expected. Online courses vary in their platforms, but most emphasize self-management while incorporating group tasks throughout the curriculum.
Midi highlights the group projects on Pamoja, saying they "get to know people from all over the world." She puts forth an example of when she "got to know a SAS Puxi student from Pamoja," once again demonstrating the extensive reach of online classrooms and the bonding of students that might not have ever met each other otherwise. Yet, Brandy says that one must "communicate with students from all over the world” where time zones might make group project plans difficult. She suggests that students must "notify each other before in order to be successful in group projects," another key aspect of the challenging time management that online courses propose.
In dealing with time management, Midi says that if students do not "choose online courses that [they] are interested in” the course “can be tedious and it is easy to be left behind." Brandy agrees, advising students to check their online course at least "four to five times a week" and to pay attention to the teacher's general update messages "about the upcoming week" in order to "plan ahead for the hours [one] must spend and the due dates [one] must be aware of."
By Kenneth Shu
This year’s daylight savings day was marked with a special occasion at the Concordia International School: it was the day of its annual college fair. The fair, a brief 2-hour excursion, features a grand variety of universities from around the world, and an equally grand amount of students trying to look for their favorite colleges without getting lost within the maze of booths and representatives.
Spanning from the cafeteria to the gym, one could easily spot the plethora of booths and eager college representatives standing at bay. From the east coast to the west—or the rest of the world for those seeking a college beyond the US—the choices were quite numerous. There were your typical safety schools, the target schools, and the select few reach schools that dotted around the campus. The choices were many, and would have, for the average student, been a head-twisting site to behold.
Of course, as with most college fairs, there were always the few select booths that are crowded with people, and then there are those that are as barren as the Trump White House. It might be tempting to spend the entirety of 30 or so minutes waiting for that one reach school that everyone is crowding around, but in reality it’s probably best to avoid the Times-Square-esque chaos until all options have been exhausted. In such rare experiences, as Counselor McCracking stated during the Junior grade level meeting that week, “it may be best to strategize and explore some of the lesser known schools”, perhaps to pique or discover an interest that one had previously not have thought of.
For the majority of participants that came, most had already devised a list and meticulously planned out which universities they intend on visiting. By setting an agenda, this would minimize the clutter and prevent any tangential distractions.
Overall, the Concordia world college fair presented a comprehensive array of universities and options for the many international students of Shanghai to sample. Albeit not fully inclusive of the college spectrum, the fair provided a diverse opportunity for its attendees to interact with the very attendees and alumni of such schools, and provided a furthered understanding of the college lifestyle.
By Cynthia Wang
Occurring in the same time as the Taipei Track Meet and the BEIMUN conference, this year’s AMIS Honor Band and Orchestra Festival at Singapore was another celebration of music, right on the heal of the APAC music festivals. With a chamber string orchestra, a symphony orchestra, and an honor band, the 2018 festival is one of many changes to the program itself, therefore providing students with varying takeaways and experiences.
Conductor Howard Williams of the chamber strings ensemble had some comments on the program as a whole. As one of Britain’s most experienced international conductors, Mr. Williams has had plentiful opportunities to work with young musicians, stating that, “it is something I do a great deal elsewhere, mostly in the UK.” When asked about his introduction to AMIS, he admits that he was “completely overwhelmed” by the sheer amount of people involved. Though only given three days of rehearsal, Mr. Williams believed in the potential of the students. He gave the string ensemble “some music that was very demanding and very complicated and sophisticated,” and ultimately provided them with the experience of “playing together at a high standard [and] making music together as a large group,” something that the students as individuals didn’t have much of before. As the festival came to an end, Mr. Williams believes that as a conductor, he “will be taking away yet another experience of discovering what young musicians are capable of,” a reward that’s most certainly different from those of the musicians themselves.
Subsequently, we interviewed several SAS Pudong musicians from the three ensembles of varying ages and instruments, asking them for their insights on the festival.
Freshman Jessica Pu, a violist in the chamber string orchestra conducted by Howard Williams, is a veteran to AMIS festivals. Having participated in middle school AMIS, Jessica is surprised by several things in the high school AMIS festival. She stresses the difficulty of the music, saying that “the music selection was more about the music itself rather than trying to find something that’s “the perfect level” [for the students].” When asked about conductor Howard Williams and what he sought to teach the students, Jessica says that she has learned that “music is a multi-faceted thing, it’s not just trying to play as fast as possible, or being with the conductor.” With lessons learned and a brand new experience in the rigorous high school AMIS, Jessica is exhilarated and cannot wait to audition for next year’s festival at Salzburg.
Sophomore Michael Ying, a clarinetist in the honor band conducted by Travis Cross, also compares his experience in high school AMIS to his middle school AMIS years and APAC band experiences. Michael speaks of the diversity of high school AMIS, as both middle school AMIS and APAC are limited to Asia. He says that “the diverse student and adult population of this festival make it much more exciting and memorable compared to localized festivals like APAC.” When asked about his conductor Travis Cross, Michael reminiscences the conductor’s various jokes, playfully bringing up memories of Dr. Cross “mocking some social group or living in his dreams of having a “rock-hard six-pack.” However, he mentions Dr. Cross writing tips on the whiteboard, frequently working with the band in sections, and conducting singing warm-up activities, concluding that however ridiculous his jokes may be, “everyone learned something new from Dr. Cross.”
Senior Rebecca Shen, a violinist in the symphony orchestra conducted by Peter Stark, reaffirms the unforgettable “collaboration between students from all different schools” that AMIS offered. As a senior who will soon be departing for college, Rebecca believes that all the music festivals that she’s been to have allowed her to “refine [her] own skills as a musician and develop a stronger passion for music.” She animately details her two main takeaways from conductor Peter Stark: “music truly does come from the soul and to always listen.” She believes in the collaborative spirit that music instills in people, saying that being in an orchestra is “not about playing the best and the loudest but playing in a way that helps enhance the group as a whole.” We are sure that this cooperative energy that music has given her will continue to enhance her future in the best ways possible.
Lastly, conductor Howard Williams has some conducting advice for the young, aspiring musicians around our school community. He believes that the essentials for becoming a conductor include “determination, [the] ability to communicate verbally and physically, musicianship, and a little conducting technique.” Mr. Williams stresses that although the only thing that could truly be taught is technique, to “know the music better than anybody else” is what earns any musician’s respect. Finally, the conductor emphasizes “an ability to be creative within all of those aspects…Because what an orchestra or choir need and work for is somebody who gives them something different.”
We all have something that we could take away from each event that intercepts our lives. Howard Williams has provided us with a few general guidelines on what it takes to become a conductor; perhaps we as students of varying interests could implement such guidelines into our own lives.
By Ryan Strong
As anyone who lives in China knows, there are some websites that are inaccessible using regular Chinese internet. However, one of the main ways in which people-foreigners in particular- can avoid this Great Firewall is by using a VPN. A VPN essentially allows users to pretend that they are in a different area of the world, say the United Kingdom, and access any content which they wish. For some time, the Chinese government has tolerated the use of VPN’s. However, that may be coming to an end.
Currently, the government of China has a goal to clean up the internet by the end of March. One of the major ways in which this goal is meant to be achieved is by limiting the sale of VPN’s. This has led to the jailing of several distributers of VPN’s. Another example of the crackdown is the removal of VPN’s from the Apple Store due to government pressure. Allegedly, VPN’s were supposed to be banned by the end of February 2018. However, that has clearly not come to pass. Thus, it remains unclear how far the crackdown will actually go.
The motivation behind the crackdown is rather simple. First, President Xi Jinping of China has expressed a desire to assert internet sovereignty, thus allowing China to control completely what happens on its cyberspace. Second, and perhaps more fundamentally, China wishes to ensure that dissent is ultimately extremely difficult. In particular, the Chinese government is afraid of a repeat of the Arab Spring, a revolutionary movement that was ultimately organized on social media.
Several SAS students expressed strong opinions related to the crackdown on VPNS. Kenneth Shu, an 11th grader, stated his forcefully: “the only reason I still have my sanity is because of my VPN.” Other students, however, did not really want to discuss the issue. As the author had sent out his request for quotes on WeChat, several students felt that the government of China would disapprove of them expressing their opinions, as it was a politically sensitive topic.
In the final analysis, it is unclear what the future will hold for VPN’s in China. Perhaps one possibility is that VPNs for corporations and expats will still be allowed, while VPNs for ordinary Chinese citizens will be banned. Whatever the future will hold, it is clear that Xi Jinping and the Chinese government are consolidating their power.