It is readily apparent that as the new school year commences, a number of fresh faces have appeared on campus.
These sixteen and seventeen-year-old scholars have been meticulously chosen from many different schools in the United Kingdom, thanks to the 'Engage with China' Scholarship Programme orchestrated by Mr. William Vanbergen, Founder of BE Education and Chairman of the WAS Global Advisory Board, and Mrs H-J Colston-Inge, Director and Founding Trustee of Engage with China. These are gifted young individuals with a profound interest in China.
In the upcoming two years, they will become integral members of the WASCZ community, blossoming, acquiring new knowledge, and pushing their boundaries alongside our existing cohort of 1,200 students. They are gearing up for A Level examinations and university applications. At the moment, the first group of eight students has arrived, with two more set to join us shortly.
Injecting International Diversity into the WASCZ Community
The fusion of Eastern and Western cultures creates a vibrant and inspiring intellectual synergy when Eastern academic trailblazers encounter their Western counterparts.
Interacting with students from the UK provides students in China an early glimpse into the genuine societal backgrounds and cultural traditions of the UK, better equipping them for a smooth adaptation to the life overseas when they proceed to further their education at international universities in the near future.
For instance, should our students partake in the long-tradition sport of rowing at school, they can rely on a steadfast teammate from the UK — their classmate Michael. Standing tall and having dedicated numerous years to mastering rowing in the UK, Michael is a well-versed athlete and a precious asset to the team.
These scholars, who have traveled a great distance to be here, have augmented the WASCZ community with an enriched international flair. Accompanying their infusion of innovative ideas and fresh perspectives, they are poised to foster deep insights at the intersection of Eastern and Western philosophies while engaging with local students, nurturing wisdom and mutual understanding.
Ruxanda shines in the humanities and social sciences. With ambitions to forge a path in the legal sector, she is currently considering enrolling in the 'World Scholar's Cup' challenge team to delve into pressing global concerns such as climate change and poverty alleviation. She recounted that her affinity with China blossomed in Year 7, spurred by her deep reverence for Confucian culture and Chinese philosophy. Captivated by the charm of Chinese culture, she embarked on learning the Chinese language. She believes that her participation in the 'Engage with China' programme will undoubtedly mark a pivotal moment in her life journey.
Ivan highlighted China's phenomenal ascent as the world's second-largest economy, witnessing breathtaking progress over the last half-century. He was particularly struck by Changzhou's rise as a nexus for new energy, earning accolades globally. This has stoked his eagerness to deepen his understanding and exploration of China.
The academic high-achievers from the East and the West leverage their distinct learning methods and thought processes to engage in intellectual exchanges at WASCZ in Changzhou. This kind of healthy competition will foster a collective thirst and passion for knowledge.
Calista, who just came from the esteemed Mayfield Grammar School in the UK, demonstrates extraordinary prowess in both science and languages, with proficiency in Spanish and Chinese. Charlie exhibited formidable academic strength, securing 9 A** and 3 A* grades across 12 GCSE examinations. The community is keenly awaiting enriching academic dialogues and reciprocal advancements in learning.
A China-UK 'Dialogue' about Education
The Genesis of Profound Global Connection
In June of this year, the ‘Dialogue with Ambassadors’ charity fundraising dinner hosted by the British education charity Engage with China in London, attended by Chinese Ambassador to the UK Zheng Zeguang, caught the attention of William Vanbergen.
"Due to various reasons, geopolitical tensions between China and the UK are increasing. We should create opportunities for the next generation to enhance cultural exchange and mutual understanding. Only in this way can we reduce friction and misunderstandings. In the future, students will become ambassadors of friendship, bridging the diplomatic and cooperative relations between the two countries," William Vanbergen shared a similar vision with H-J Colston-Inge, Director of Engage with China, and the idea of cooperation quickly emerged. This "bold" idea transitioned from conception to fruition in a mere two months.
On September 2, 2023, the Global Services Trade Summit of the China International Fair for Trade in Services was held in Beijing, where Chinese President Xi Jinping extended his congratulations through a video message to the summit. At this summit, Ms. Sun Ling, the Chief Consultant of Wycombe Abbey School, and H-J Colston-Inge, the Director of the British charitable education organisation Engage with China, signed a formal cooperation agreement. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Chinese and British leaders, including Xia Linmao, Deputy Mayor of Beijing, Wang Dongtang, the Director-General of the Department of Trade in Services and Commercial Services at the Ministry of Commerce, Lord Dominic Johnson, the UK Minister of State for Trade, and Dame Caroline Wilson, the British Ambassador to China.
Ms. Sun noted, “the launch of the EwC scholarship programme opens up a huge door to China for a number of outstanding teenagers. Engaging in a two-year A Level programme at WASCZ, they will gain deeper insights into the Chinese culture, forging friendships with Chinese peers. I am confident that they will evolve into great ambassadors fostering China-UK relations in the years to come.”
During the ceremony, British Ambassador to China Dame Caroline Wilson highly praised the initiative and expressed admiration for its exceptional efficacy.
History predominantly unfolds through individual efforts. The robust alliance between Wycombe Abbey School and Engage with China has not only earned high praise from Lord Johnson, the Secretary of State for Investment, but also emerged as a positive story reiterated by James Cleverly, the British Minister for Foreign Development, during his recent state visit to China. It has attracted attention from numerous mainstream media outlets both domestically and internationally.
Echoing this sentiment, H-J Colston-Inge, who spearheads the charity initiative to bolster China-related knowledge in UK schools, remarked, “Engage with China stands as a unique voice in the UK educational sector, advocating the critical importance of educating the youth about China, a cornerstone for future prosperity and effective intercultural interactions. The MOU signing with BE Education, facilitating the journey of 10 British teenagers to China for their A Level education, signifies a constructive step, illustrating the tremendous possibilities when two entities unite under a shared vision for the greater good. These scholars are set to become invaluable and skilled future business leaders, potentially playing a central role in forging stronger China-UK ties.”
At WASCZ, growth is a journey marked by tangible progress and accompanied by countless exciting opportunities. We have every reason to believe that the ‘Engage with China’ programme will bring a unique experience to students from both China and the UK, as well as to the broader community.