As a first of many for WAB Alumni, our Alumni Office hosted the inaugural WAB Alumni Breakfast Reunion in the High School's Wild Ginger Cafe. Twenty-five early bird alumni joined current staff as the sun rose over the campus. Attendees caught up over some coffee and a traditional Chinese breakfast. Cathy Jones, High School Assistant Principal, gave the warm welcome remarks saying, "Even if you have left WAB, you are a member of the WAB community forever and alumni gatherings are a wonderful opportunity for our community to remain connected.
The breakfast reunion was followed by a one-hour video recording session with Mr. Greg MacIsaac, who has been gathering testimonials from our Alumni Graduates beginning with the Class of 2009. These videos are being compiled for WAB's 20th anniversary video, so alumni should make sure to contact the alumni office when making their next visit to WAB!
The annual Personal Social Education (PSE) Panel received a fabulously overwhelming response from WAB alumni willing to participate, unfortunately far too many for a workable panel discussion, so the HS counselors had to select one dozen alumni to appear on the Panel.
This year's Grade 12 students at WAB had the pleasure of welcoming back the twelve recent WAB graduates for a discussion about life after WAB. The panel consisted of three alumni from the Class of 2010 and nine from the Class of 2011. The young group represented, in true WAB fashion, many countries of origin: Australia, Brazil. Canada, Germany, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. Eight of the panelists are currently enrolled in University: six in the US, one in Canada, and one in Sweden. These "Uni" students were on midyear break and so able to visit Beijing and WAB. The other four panelists are either taking a gap year, for instance one is studying at Beida in China for a year, or are enlisted in national service and are planning on attending University following their current engagements. Those now attending University are pursuing studies in an impressively wide-range of programs and majors, including acting, business, electrical engineering, film, medicine, and political science.
The panel was seated in the High School amphitheater to the standing-room only crowd of Grade 12 students and teachers. HS Counselor Bernie Longboy began the discussion with a few prompting question for the visitors, gathered ahead of time based on student feedback.
"Do you feel your courses at WAB prepared you for University?"
"WAB beyond prepared me for my film studies," reported Renee Mao (WAB '11) who is attending the New York University (NYU)'s Tisch Film School in the US. "I found much of this year easy." For Tom Wang (WAB '11) attending the University of Southern California in the US and majoring in business, "The American system is quite different. It took me a while to adjust to college essay writing versus IB writing." However, Tiffany Lam (WAB '11), now studying at McGill University in Canada was happy to inform our current students that, "IB Writing is top notch. If IB did anything really well, it was preparing us for writing" and the other panelists readily agreed.
"Have you experienced any challenges living by yourself, perhaps for the first time?"
"There is so much: cleaning, dishes, public transportation. I love it. As much as it was good to have parents push you, you learn independence. You really have to learn to manage your time yourself," said Gabriela Reichart (WAB '11), who then summarized with, "Living alone is awesome; it is a good time."
"What do you wish you had known a year or two ago that would have helped you now?"
The answers for this were universally practical life skills ranging from "how to budget better" to "how to wash clothes and cook," with very specific words of wisdom from Sam Stevenson-Wang (WAB '10) who is studying film production and is also at NYU's Tisch Film School, "There is this place called Enzo's Pizza. Don't eat there."
"What do you like most about your College or University?"
"I am in New York," Sam answered with a big smile, "and that is pretty cool. There is no real campus [at NYU] and I live in the East Village. There is a lot of fun stuff there," adding quickly, "Legal stuff."
Grade 12 students continued the discussions with questions about handling "Senior-itis" (the common teenager disease of losing all motivation once university applications are submitted), college roommates, and what to pack. Our panelists were honest and engaging, giving our next class of graduates an early glimpse into their future. Soon enough our student audience will be returning to WAB with their own tidbits of advice! We all look forward to that.