Opinion editorials, reviews and personal essays
By Grace Deng
Dear Prospective College Student,
Thank you for your purported interest in a school you’ve never heard of!
This is an ominous warning that time is running out, and you really should only be thinking about colleges from now on because high school seniors aren’t stressed quite enough already. To lighten the mood here’s something snappy to seem quirky and different, along with a picture of students of every shade to show we’re a diverse community! If that doesn’t interest you, here’s a couple of “humble brag” statistics: we’re number one in something you probably aren’t interested in, we have millions of majors, and we award thousands of scholarships a year —none of which you qualify for!
We’re sending this email to tell you that you, like every college senior we could find on Collegeboard with an SAT score over 1200, are invited to attend the next event where we advertise ourselves. We’re looking forward to meeting you, then pretending to remember you when you email us the next day! At this event, you will spend two hours listening to the same thing you’ve heard at every other school.
If you’re an international student, the event probably takes place halfway across the world. We don’t expect you to fly in, however—join our Webinar sessions, which take place while you’re in class because we work on Eastern Time!
Don’t forget to follow us on social media, where you can see students in staged photos pretending to have fun! And don’t forget to check out our website, where half the links won’t work!
By Adeena Liang and Jessica Wu
To kick-off the new school year, the new dress code is fully implemented. No midriffs and no undergarments should be visible. Sounds simple, right? However, a deeper look at what this change will mean for different members of the high school student body offers food for thought.
One perspective is from the girls of our community. Many express their dismay, as their wardrobes consisting primarily of midriff-baring shirts are now against dress code and cannot be employed to their fullest potential. They express that by no means should they be prohibited from wearing their attire of choice for this season, especially in the muggy and humid Shanghai summer weather. Additionally, it remains an unchangeable fact that there are some shirts that do go past the belly button, and yet expose the top undergarment or bra because of their design and structure. A concern arises that questions the justifiability of counting the unintentional exposure of a top undergarment because of the style or cut of a shirt as a violation of dress code.
Another perspective is from athletes of both sexes. Both boys and girls on the cross-country team have things to say about the dress code and its relation to athletes. Boys sometimes remove their shirts during cross-country practice.
Sean Yuan, a member of the team, said, “shirts are heavy and suffocating; if you take them off, you can feel some actual wind”.
A question is raised if such shirt removal constitutes as exposure of midriffs, and thus a violation of dress code. Something to consider further is that girls are not allowed to run without a shirt in just their sports bra; however, “the new dress code doesn’t really affect the girl runners because [they] were never allowed to run without a shirt even before the update anyway,” said Archana Velauthapillai. Sean describes a possible option to reconcile the whole controversy by having “a dress code that pertains specifically to athletes because the athletic environment is so different from a typical school environment”.
From both perspectives, we see potential disparities between how the new dress code affects girls versus how it affects boys. Because of anatomical features, girls are responsible for covering up two undergarments versus the boys’ one; because of gender, girls are prohibited from baring midriffs, while boys can essentially avoid consequence even when they bare everything from the waist up. Although the new dress code certainly marks a significant improvement from the requirements of previous years, some further clarification may be in order to make it a code for all, and not just a code for a particular gender.
By Cynthia Wang
Why would you ever want to play an instrument?
First of all, craning your neck over a violin 24/7 will surely perpetrate some severe spinal disease. Also, blowing into a tube is just a waste of time and saliva. Those band students must be constantly oxygen-deprived - their lifespan no doubt shortening significantly. Every time I pass by those jail cells called "Music Rooms," my ears implode. The blood-curdling screeches echoing down the choir hallway, accompanied by the twig-waving terrorist's screams of bloody murder, just serve to ruin my day and shatter my youthful glee. Don't even mention dance or theatre: I swear, those ritualistic Satanists with their flailing limbs and gaping mouths are in some coveted cult; they must be!
So why should we ever properly recognize APAC performing arts?
We've already established that they are simply unworthy of team uniforms: what's a couple dozen years of cultish practice, blackened fingertips, strained vocal chords, and crusty lips compared to our blood, toil, tears, and sweat out on our oh-so-glorious field? Such repugnant tyrants should not be allowed to reign over our school anymore. They must be quarantined and suppressed, for their revolting noises must be confined to a minimum in order to allow the ultimate complete, authoritarian rule of sports over all activities. We must preserve whatever purity we have left in our sanctum of a school; we cannot tolerate the fostering of such deceitful, wicked crafts!
Not to mention the internal turmoil going on between those duplicitous Puritan worshippers of "music." Those four-stringed instruments of ear-hemorrhage-induced-death are not afraid to lynch their spit-infested, plastic-tube-blowing counterparts on crosses of mucilaginous, inedible tree sap; those bonfire-worshippers with their hoots and screams will gladly scorch their fellow spine-tingling screamers and present them as human sacrifices, sandwiched between the secretions of their prey. Look at us athletes, ever so peaceful with absolutely zero tolerance for any sort of drama (except for the baseball players, of course: who could ever look at them, clamped in their inappropriate ballet tights, and not smirk in pity?).
For all of the unconditionally reasonable arguments presented, APAC performing arts should not be mentioned at all during community meetings, nor should they be supported in any way shape or form. To all those who say that APAC performing arts deserve more recognition: I say that they most certainly do not! They obviously contaminate our shrine of honorary sports, and they are unquestionably lesser in all means when compared our righteously lionized athletic programs. Hell, why do our lovely Activities admin still tolerate the effort of incorporating slides of recognition for those scandalous so-called "celebrations of aesthetics" when they could clearly simply substitute time wasted on such revolting activities for more high-quality iMovie rugby propaganda? Why not have classes on basketball, volleyball, and badminton and make better use of the lovely air-conditioned suites that such undeserving, ghastly undertakings currently occupy? Let us join arms and rebel against the tyranny of the arts!
By Grace Deng
Chinese propaganda regularly cites America as a hotspot for gun violence.
In this case, Chinese propaganda isn’t wrong: there have been 154 mass shootings in America since the start of 2018. While the Chinese government does not release official gun violence numbers, a rare independent study found a total number of four mass shootings from 2000 to 2014—in a country where a fifth of the world’s population lives. America loses credibility as a world leader in human rights—namely, the right to being alive—when their gun control policy is more destructive than authoritarian China’s.
Gun policy in China is simple: private citizens can’t own guns. While there are a few exceptions, many SAS students say they’ve never even seen police with guns other than bank security. Meanwhile, Americans own half of the world’s guns despite being 5% of the world’s population.
Last month, the Chinese Embassy in Washington issued a notice warning Chinese tourists of “frequent shootings.” One in 315 Americans will die by gun assault (not including mass shootings). According to the National Safety Council and the National Center for Health Statistics data, guns kill Americans at a faster rate than car accidents, fire, and “any force of nature.”
Gun enthusiasts point to the proliferation of knife attacks in China, saying the violence will always move somewhere else. They cite the Kunming massacre of 2014, a terrorist attack driven by knife-wielding assailants at a railway station in China. But a lone man with a knife can not kill fifty people at a concert in Las Vegas.
Gun control in America is unlikely to change anytime soon. The NRA has a stranglehold on the GOP, and the chances of Democratic control over the Senate this year is bleak, despite recent optimism over flipping the House. All Americans can do is express dissent, a liberty Chinese citizens don’t get.
Recently, the Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times stated in an editorial that Americans should put the right to life above the right to gun ownership. When China can lord over America’s human rights abuses, it’s time to listen to reason.
By Ryan Strong
Why Liberalism Failed (Politics and Culture)
By Patrick J. Deneen
248 pp. Yale University Press.
Though the title seems to suggest that this book would be a conservative polemic against those on the left, it is in fact anything but. This book, in fact, is a sweeping critique of modern political theory and practice, particularly within the American context. Furthermore, Deneen, a professor of political science at Notre Dame, indicts both sides in the political debate as being opposite sides of the same coin of classical liberalism, which is the main target of his short polemic.
Classical liberalism is the first term that needs to be defined. Classical liberalism is one of the three “great” Enlightenment ideologies: fascism and communism being the other two. It is associated with such luminaries as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Rosseau. It is generally associated in the public imagination with features such as written constitutions, civil liberties, and democratic elections.
Now, as far as it can be seen, Deneen is not particularly opposed to the ideas listed above. However, he argues that classical liberalism, rather than simply being a pragmatic political arrangement, actually has a fundamental view of human flourishing, human nature, and the good that discreetly shape the policies of most liberal democracies. Thus, arguably the center of Deneen’s book is a criticism of the state of nature. The state of nature is an idea that tries to imagine human beings in a period without culture or society. Deneen argues that this idea is fundamentally wrong-headed, as no humans in any point in history live without culture or society; humans are tribal animals, after all. Furthermore, the book argues that the essential project of liberalism is to return man to the imagined state of nature. In other words, classical liberalism wants to liberate man from all constraints that could be placed on him by community, family, and society.
As a result, the book argues that the massive amount of social isolation, collapse in community engagement, and social problems that currently afflict the United States are actually a direct result of classical liberal ideology, an ideology that he argues permeates both political parties. Thus, he argues that it is essential for alternatives to classical liberalism to be developed in order to allow these problems to be resolved.
To begin, the book definitely is one of the most fascinating books I have read all year. Its thesis is totally original, and Deneen is obviously a capable political scientist. In particular, I enjoyed his reading of John Locke, as he describes how Locke actually supported the creation a new elite to replace the aristocracy of the Ancient Regime; I never knew about the anti-egalitarian thread of liberalism.
Perhaps my main reason for being skeptical of Deneen revolves around his sense of doom and gloom. After all, there have been pundits in late modernity who have been constantly predicting the end of the world, and surprise; the world is still spinning. Another possible area of criticism is whether or not philosophy really drives history to the degree that Deneen seems to think that it does. However, it seems to me that material circumstances drive acceptance of ideas as much as ideas drive material circumstances. Thus, perhaps the problems that Deneen sees in the United States are not solely attributable to classical liberalism.
In the final analysis though, "Why Liberalism Failed" deserves to be widely read for the sheer boldness of its thesis and its willingness to cut against the grain of modern society. If nothing else, "Why Liberalism Failed" is certainly more profound and thoughtful than most of what passes as political discourse in modern society. I also think that it is particularly relevant for SAS students who often have a more Western outlook, but live in a country such as China. It perhaps challenges what can sometimes be our complacency about the superiority of Western, liberal democracy and force us to consider if other systems have benefits. As a result, I strongly recommend all students, especially those who like politics, to read it and consider its merits.
By Ryan Strong
If I had to sum up this review in one sentence, it would be this: Stanley Kubrick is a genius. Full stop. Even 50 years after its release, 2001: A Space Odyssey is still as revolutionary as it was in 1968. It has a constant feeling of freshness; moreover, it has a constant feeling of a transcendent experience, perhaps unmatched by any director since.
So, where to begin? The logical point would seem to be the plot and narrative, but that is a bit complicated with 2001 (more on that later). Anyway, the superficial plot is that mankind (well, actually members of the American government) discovers a mysterious, black monolith on the surface on the moon. As a result, a manned mission is sent to Jupiter where another monolith is believed to be. There are five members of the mission, three of which are in hibernation. Did I mention the computer? Ah, yes, the HAL 9000 computer that runs the ship, who is “foolproof and incapable of error.” Naturally, of course, things go disastrously wrong when HAL messes up, the crew members decide to deactivate him, and so he decides to kill them all. After some action (Spoiler: people die), the mission makes it to Jupiter and the mind-blowing final act begins.
Of course, this is only the superficial plot. The actual plot takes place on the level of human evolution. The opening sequence occurs on the savannah of Africa with a tribe of apes that are human ancestors. The movie ends with another evolutionary jump for mankind. Of course, evolution is not the only theme, and those themes are extraordinarily debated. What, for example, is the meaning of the HAL computer? Or, what is the meaning of the black monolith, which is hardly explained at all? However, I actually think that this is part of what is great about the film; it never spells out completely what it means, forcing the viewer to actually wrestle with the film.
Along with a lot of the interesting questions about the themes, some of the best elements are the technical aspects of the film. In particular, the music is just astounding. Kubrick actually selected all classical pieces of music for the film, and they work marvelously. Indeed, the main theme “Thus Spake Zaruthasa” has become so intimately connected with the film, even though it was composed long before the film was made. When the monolith appears, the music makes my hair stand on end out of fear for what is coming next. However, hands down, the best part of the film is when we are first shown the spaceships, we see them waltzing in time to Strauss’s “The Blue Danube Waltz.” It is a moment of sheer genius, one of the many in this film.
Perhaps the only possible criticism I could level at it is the fact that the film is slow. I mean, really slow. Kubrick takes as much time as he wants for small, seemingly unimportant things like space flights. When watching these scenes, then, the most important thing to remember is to enjoy the cinematography which is exceptional.
In the end, 2001 is a thinking person’s film, something that resists interpretation, but at the same time is richly rewarding when delved into. For teenagers in particular, the film wrestles with existential issues that we ourselves are only beginning to wrestle with: questions of transcendence, of the unknown, and hope for the future. If you ever get bored of Marvel movies, this is definitely the film for you.
By Ryan Strong
It is my contention that the current STUCO system is without a doubt one of the greatest catastrophes to befall the school. With its simplistic use of the popular vote and its lack of complexity, there are few checks and balances and nothing to stretch the mental abilities of students. As a result, the system must be completely revamped in order to ensure that a proper political system is established, with as many complexities and nuances as possible.
We shall begin with the election of the President. The election of the president of STUCO is one of the most essential areas of reform. In fact, all other elections for STUCO executives will be abolished besides the election of the President. This will be explained in subsequent paragraphs. The simple fact is that current electoral contests are based merely on the popularity of the person, rather than on the actual qualifications. Thus, only upstanding students should be allowed to elect such a sacred position. However, the major issue that is that this situation could result in a brutal oligarchy. Thus, an electoral college will have to be formed in order to allow only those upstanding members of our school.
The way in which an electoral college will work is simple. Students will be divided up according to their common ground groups. Then, one elector would be apportioned per 10 students, with rounding instituted for decimals. Then, those students that would gain three recommendation letters from three of their teachers would work to caucus together within their common ground group to form slates of electors. These slates would be equal to the number of open elector seats, and would revolve around agreement on those pressing issues facing the school. On election day, electors would make speeches together in the thirty different common ground groups, and then voting by secret ballet would occur. That slate which won the greatest number of votes would then be selected as the electors of that common ground.
This, however, is only the beginning of the process. Regional- nay, numerical- caucuses would then be formed. Thus, six numerical caucuses from the common ground groups would be formed being: 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30. Each of these numerical caucuses, which would only include the electors who had been selected, would then select one candidate through a process of single- transferable vote with one winner per caucus. These candidates would also have to be upstanding students of the school, and would have also submitted an application to be President. It should be further noted that chairs for SHASMUN would be selected to moderate debate in each caucus. Of course, none of the chairs who would moderate debate and selection in each caucus would be a member of the specific common ground caucus that they were moderating.
One day after the selection of the six candidates, all electors would meet in the PAC at 7:55. Promptly, they would be locked inside in order to prevent interference from the outside world. However, the election proceedings would be live streamed to the Commons in order to prevent corrupt bargains. Then, they would listen to speeches from each of the six candidates, question the candidates, and discuss among themselves. All of this would be presided over by the Secretariat of MUN. After four hours of debate, voting procedures would begin promptly at 12:00. Using single-winner single transferable vote, a winner will be selected who gains the majority of the electors votes after various transfers. The new president will then be summoned, and they will then immediately dissolve the electoral college.
After the election of the President, the election of the legislature will proceed. Each grade will be granted five senators. These senators candidates will have the same requirements to e candidates as will the president. Then, on a day chosen by the president, grade level meetings will be held to elect the five senators. Voting will be through single transferable votes with multiple winners, necessitating the distribution of fractional votes in order to ensure that full proportionality is achieved. The vote quota that will be used is (Total votes/(Number of Candidates +1))+1. After votes are counted, the senators will be declared the winners.
However, the system is still not complete! After the election of the senators by the general public, the president will summon them to a session of congress. There, he will nominate one of the senators from the senior grade in order to become Chancellor of STUCO. He will then request that the congress cast a motion of confidence in the new Chancellor. If it fails, the President will have to nominate someone else.
If it any point the Chancellor or the President displeases the Senate, the Senate may cast a motion of no-confidence in the Chancellor. If this motion passes, the Chancellor is fired and the president nominates a new Chancellor.
Finally, in order to decide on anything, “legislation” must be passed in STUCO. The President will submit the legislation , which will contain the actions required for STUCO to the senate. The Chancellor will then read it out to the Senate. After three hours of debate, the Senate will either reject or accept it by simple majority, leading to the actions either being taken or ignored.
This, of course, is merely a simplistic overview of the entire new political system that will be implemented. I made no mention of the appointment of the Commission of Public Safety or the Supreme Court. But that is a tale for another time.
Editor's Note: The views expressed in this opinion article are the author's own and are not not representative of Pudong Press' views or beliefs.
By Kenneth Shu and Grace Deng
As graduation quickly approaches for the seniors, the school is already beginning to plan graduation for the juniors. Some ideas by the administration have the junior class up in arms. In this article, two Pudong Press writers contemplate the possibility of graduation at SAS’ Performing Arts Center.
A PAC Graduation: A Brilliant Idea in the Making or A Disaster Waiting to Happen?
Well, I’m sure you’ve all heard about this news, either by physically being at the PAC when it was announced, or from your overly enthusiastic parents who are still mad at you for not accompanying them to the meeting. But, if you haven’t, then, here it is:
We might end up having our graduation ceremony in the PAC.
Now, now, hold on. It may not be that bad of an idea. Before you all start charging with pitchforks and torches, just hear me out and read this article. In the following document, I will be presenting a case both “for” and against this “PAC graduation”, how you choose to interpret the facts is your choice… entirely.
So let’s begin with the pros to a PAC graduation.
Having a PAC graduation saves money. We won’t have to pay any extra funding for the venues or catering, and everything will be conducted under the jurisdiction of the school. So yes, it would definitely reduce the costs and expenses of the graduation.
Furthermore, it’s (probably) more convenient. Consider this--our school is closer to us than Hongqiao, and we already have busing systems to the PAC. That means no more waking up at 6am to get prepared, or angry bus drivers trying to figure out how to navigate Puxi. Plus, we would have the entire venue all to ourselves, which would be pretty nice—especially if we really hate Puxi “that much”.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of cons to this plan.
First off, it’s the school that’s saving the money, not us. This isn’t much of a con more or less a fact. I know the school needs all the money it can save, which I am in support of. However, if that money is used on marketing, as the trend currently goes, then that is not okay. If the school is willing to cut spending for the graduation, and choose to reinvest that saved funding in marketing—and not on teacher’s pensions, or staff salaries, or club subsidies, or student equipment (hint, hint new couches)—than I, and perhaps the entirety of the student body, would be peeved.
Second, trying to fit a couple hundred individuals in a crowded hall that everyone commonly gathers in on a biweekly basis, to be frank, kind of ruins the majesty of such events. A graduation event may seem like a community meeting, but it isn’t. To simply treat it as such is a bit of a let down to say the least.
Third, we won’t be able to be with our Puxi brethren. Now I know that not everybody likes Puxi—case being that they keep beating us in sports (but not in basketball or badminton) and that they keep magically getting all the Ivy League acceptances. But perhaps it may not be that bad of an idea to mix the two campuses together. It cements bonds, bridges the cross-river divide, and allows us to meet with some of our friends from The Eleven in a final kumbaya before we all leave and depart for the foreseeable future.
Graduation is supposed to be a majestic event. It is, after all, a major milestone of every individual’s lives (hopefully), and as such it deserves the utmost treatment and respect. Chances are, unless you’re Selena Gomez, you’ll only graduate once. That graduation ceremony better be the best and most memorable one possible.
We all cherish that moment on the stage before the gazing eyes of hundreds of proud and cheerful parents, teachers, and students. Standing up on that stage and receiving that hard-earned diploma is the culmination of all those years of hard work, early mornings, and late-night binge writings. Think about it.
PAC Graduation: Not a Brilliant Idea, but a Practical One
By Grace Deng
The first time Dr. Lee announced the idea of a graduation in the PAC during Junior’s Night, cheers rose from the crowd.
Those cheers were not representative of a unanimous agreement.
Immediately after Junior’s Night, my phone lit up in discontent. The Class of 2019 chat was ablaze--one student claimed they wouldn’t even go to graduation if it takes place in the PAC. Other students immediately began protesting the idea with the administration, sending emails directly to Dr. Lee himself. Even more students just laid out their complaints in the class chat, despairing over the mere idea of graduating in the Performing Arts Center. I noticed a common theme among all of these students: the ones I knew who were complaining have never gone to a public or local school before.
As someone who always thought that they would graduate in a high school gym or field like most public school students, graduating in the rather bourgeoisie Performing Arts Center seemed like a step up to me.
My friends back home don’t even have a junior prom because there isn’t enough funding. Brittany Do, a junior and friend of mine at North Creek High, was excited about the possibility of even having a graduation venue.
“It’s pathetic how out of touch our class is with the real world,” fumed junior Brent Cheung. “We pass through Shanghai, a city with extremely high inequality, every day and we still are throwing tantrums over not getting our graduation at the most extravagant and luxurious venue.”
I know this school is used to a cushy, beautiful, and frankly overly priced graduation venue. I understand that students want to graduate in the best venue possible. And students are rightly angry in that they won’t be able to graduate with their Puxi counterparts, that we might not be able to fit everyone in the PAC (which is debatable—we already know we can fit the whole high school in there with room to spare), and that we’ll have a less expensive or elegant graduation than our past counterparts.
But the truth of the matter is: a PAC graduation is a much better graduation venue than the vast majority of high schools across the world. There are benefits too. We don’t have to travel to Puxi, we don’t have to arrange transportation, and there’s something poetic about graduating at the very institution we are graduating from.
As junior Jason Kang points out: “I don’t care where we graduate. It won’t change the fact that I’m finally graduating.”
So a PAC graduation might be hectic, crowded, and cheap, but it shouldn’t matter--because graduation isn’t about the caviar or the chandeliers. It’s about celebrating the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one with the people who matter most in your life. Think about it.
By Colin Jun
During the grade meeting on March 6, 2018, every student in our school participated in a unique survey that our school students have never done. Stress Zero once conducted small research related to the stress level of the students in our school last year; however, this is the first time the school conducted a formal survey about the stress. Although many students call this survey the “stress survey,” the formal name for this survey is the Social Emotional Learning Survey. The Social Emotional Learning survey investigates the five core principles that support a student’s academic and social activity in and out of the school. (The five core principles include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.) As it investigates various aspects of our school life, it is natural for the survey to have more than 40 questions –it was long, but it was also thorough.
The fact that 97% of our students participated in this survey is a remarkable statistic to remember. However, the more impressive and essential part of this survey is analyzing the results. Let’s take a look at some of the data that is released through the Powerpoint Presentation by Dr. Lee (Source). The data (released) suggests the majority of our school students have a positive image of their school life. The majority of our students responded that taking classes and doing well in classes is a valuable experience for themselves and their future. Regarding engagement, the majority responded that they are interested in the class and are also eager to participate in the class. Regarding our school spirit – eagle spirit, these results are not surprising. We can observe it in everyday life.
Regarding school safety and sense of belonging to the students, many students (fortunately) responded that they feel comfortable with their school life and believe they belong to the school. Well, we can see many students enjoy their school life – think how many students are in Commons during break time and how many times we have community meetings! However, there are other aspects of the survey results that we have to take look at. Some people feel they do not belong to SAS and believe it is difficult for them to get help from others. This result suggests our school and students should put more effort in to ensure every student is a part of our community. The school could host more events or activities, other than community meetings, that can bring school students together and allow more students to get engaged. Of course, the most critical key to this issue is the role of students. We have to look at ourselves to ensure every student around us is a part of our community – clubs will be the best tool to engage more students in the community. We should not hesitate to help more students. With a collaborative effort of students, teachers and the school as a whole, it is not an impossible mission for us to create a school community which everyone feels a sense of belonging.
Interpreting these results, we have to understand that there is the possibility of people “trolling” (making jokes) in response or people dishonestly responding to the survey. However, in comparison with our everyday school life, many will respond the result is reasonably reliable. Column McCann, an award-winning Irish writer, stated: “People are good or half good or a quarter good, and it changes all the time- but even on the best day nobody is perfect.” As people cannot be perfect, the school, consisting of people, cannot be perfect for everyone in our school. However, there is one thing that school and our community can do – put in as much effort as possible to become perfect.
Editor's Note: While the writer of this article is a Pudong Press writer, the opinions expressed in this article are the writer's own and do not reflect the beliefs of Pudong Press.
Lee, Benjamin. PDHS Social Emotional Learning. 9 Mar. 2018. Shanghai American School Pudong Schoology, app.schoology.com/resources/group#/resources/school/655340397. Accessed 13 Mar. 2018.
By Ryan Strong
Perhaps one of the most polarizing aspects of any competition is homestay, in which competitors are forced to stay in homes that belong to families at the school they are visiting. I admit that when I first had to do this, I was really concerned about having to stay with some people who I did not know. However, after experiencing it several times, I admit to have changed my opinions entirely about homestay, and I feel that it is the optimal arrangement for competitions.
There is essentially one other option other than homestay: staying in a hotel. At first glance, this sounds far more appealing than staying in someone’s home. After all, it offers privacy, and there is no need to interact with strangers. However, I ultimately find that several factors outweigh these alleged benefits ( we’ll get back to them later).
First off, I have generally found that homestay generally offers more ability to see the city in which I am visiting. The reason for this is simple: in a hotel, there are less adults to take students. Thus, it is a lot harder to get around, while a homestay the family will generally have a means of individual transportation, allowing competitors to go out every night with ease. Furthermore, in my experience, a homestay family offers a chance to get to know people from other schools, allowing new friends to made. At the same time, despite the point about privacy made above, I have generally found that homestay families are very willing to respect your privacy, as they recognize that staying with strangers may be hard for you.
Homestay offers several possible benefits, such as allowing competitors to see more of the city which they are visiting and the possibility of making friends from different schools. This second point is especially important, as one of the major reasons for the existence of these sorts of competitions is to create relationships in between people at different schools. Thus, schools should continue the policy of homestay, rather than putting competitors into hotels.