by Dan d’Entremont – TIS Academic Counselor
World-renowned cellist Yoyo Ma once said, “Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.” When current Grade 12 student, Vivian took the risk of moving from her local school in Macao to TIS it was clear that she had a passion for learning. Wanting to enrol in the new International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, Vivian made the difficult sacrifice of repeating Grade 11 at TIS in order to study in the two-year IB program alongside the Alberta Diploma program. Vivian recounts that “this decision was not the most popular that I have ever made, but I have never looked back. With the thought that it might not be the easiest thing for me to fit into a traditional local classroom (I talk way too much, perhaps!) and the hope of levelling up my proficiency in English and Mandarin, I was seeking for a change in my learning environment and further academic challenge.”
Vivian’s transfer to TIS has been worth the risk. Her insight and creativity of thought were no more apparent than in Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class where she earned the Most Outstanding Student Award in Grade 11. Many TIS staff think that the thrust of Vivian’s talent lies in music, but they are mistaken. Granted, Vivian has mastered her skills in musical performance and composition, but it is her unparalleled ability to synthesize different academic disciplines with great depth, that makes her unique. “The TOK course is undeniably one of the highlights in my IB experience. Taking this course has definitely shaped the way I learn as a critical thinker, who does not simply receive information but processes it with independent thought and judgment and whenever necessary, argue for a good cause, with a good cause.”
Despite the commitment required by the IB program, Vivian has still enjoyed the freedom of being active in her extra-curricular pursuits. Vivian has been involved in Model United Nations and the Swim Team. As a cast member of the Secondary Drama Spring Production, she benefitted from drop-ins of the Modern Dance Club and the Art Club during Grade 11, and is currently on the TIS Arts Council. This is all in addition to her musical pursuits. When asked about this balancing act, Vivian said, “Here at TIS, you are able to find your interests and develop your leadership skills in a myriad of ways, be it in athletics, or through participation with the Volunteer Team. Moreover, being able to go on a school trip to some very fascinating destinations (I went to Bhutan in Experience Week 2018) is not an everyday scenario in Macau. This year, I will be working as a Homeroom Helper in a kindergarten classroom during Experience Week, learning alongside some very passionate teachers as I seek my way in creating a positive impact while aspiring to work in the fields of the Arts and Education.”
Vivian’s performance has not gone unnoticed by universities. Among other impressive acceptances, she has been offered a place in the University of Oxford and attributes her move to TIS for helping to make this a reality. “Above all, I could never be more grateful to be guided by so many amazing teachers, especially the Academic Counseling Team who work day and night in the hope of leading students to paths that will serve them best. My academic counselor, Ms. Lindsey Doland, has been of great help to me throughout my academic journey at TIS, including but not limited to my university application process. From getting my course schedule sorted out to discussions about academic and career goals, from editing my personal statements to proofreading my application forms to ensure that not a single punctuation is in the wrong place, from helping me contact universities to preparing me for my university interviews, Ms. Doland has been an unbelievably resourceful consultant.” As she awaits her final university offers, it is clear that TIS and the combination of the IB and Alberta programs have created a unique opportunity for Vivian’s success.
Local Macau students might be intimidated by the prospect of moving to a truly international school like TIS, but the transition can be much easier and the experience more rewarding than anticipated. When asked about what advice she would give to other students from local schools, Vivian said, “If you are considering making a move to TIS, I strongly encourage you to take that one step forward. An education at TIS has prepared me in so many ways in becoming a better-equipped learner, a more effective communicator, and a more open-minded global citizen. It has also opened more doors for me in terms of tertiary education options.” Parents and students interested in discovering the academic options at TIS are welcome to contact the academic counseling team at firstname.lastname@example.org.