Core Values / Perseverance

Planting Seeds Instead of Creating Finished Products

Young Wei Qian learning to ride
I was the slowest bicycling learner in my neighborhood, struggling to let go of the training wheels when I was 5 years old.

In our weekly Education Leadership Team (ELT) meetings, we usually open the collaborative working time by connecting and sharing experiences outside our roles at CAIS. Several times recently, the team activities have encouraged us to look back and reflect on our childhoods and our experiences as students. I’ve been amazed how sharing such memories has helped me gain a better understanding of how I became the person I am now, as well as appreciating what has shaped each of my team members to be the person they are. Because of these activities, my memories occasionally come flooding in as I recall conversations and moments from my years at high school and college, bringing me back to the numerous breezy summer nights I spend strolling tirelessly on the Su Causeway around West Lake at Hangzhou. I have been nostalgic and even laughed a few times as I remembered those things that were so normal or so important back then yet which seem so luxurious or so trivial now. In some ways, I can be envious of that person whose naive and limited perspective allowed her to enjoy a much simpler world.

This experience struck a chord in me as it became clear that my reflection was more than just a few old memories; it was a reminder about what we do as educators. I was reminded that our students will never be finished products in our hands. They are constantly in the process of learning, searching, discovering, loving, failing, listening, and experiencing a world that will continue to shape the person they are becoming. Our job at CAIS is not to create finished products, our job is to plant seeds of CAIS’s core values of curiosity, inclusion, kindness, perseverance, and courage in our Firedragons that one day will grow and thrive. The seeds we plant today may take years to bear fruit.

I shared this reminder with our teachers and now I am sharing it with you parents as well. I remind you, please be patient with children. Be confident that what they are learning and experiencing now is working to create a person who will live a life of meaning and purpose. In addition to patience, I remind you to be hopeful and, more imperative, to cultivate hope in our Firedragons. Brene Brown shared that “Hope is a function of struggle.” When we don’t allow our children to experience struggle, failure, and disappointment, we take away their hope. The hope that when they fail, they can try again and succeed. The hope that when they feel disappointed, there is always a chance to experience success. The hope that no matter what happens in life, our Firedragons are driven by the CAIS core values and are determined to overcome the struggle.

Lastly, I would like to share a quote from 苏轼( Su Shi—poet, essayist, and calligrapher in the Song Dynasty, also the leader in building the Su Causeway for West Lake at Hongzhou) that has been in my notebook as a reminder for myself: “博观而去约,厚积而薄发” (Widely reading cultivates comprehensive perspectives; profound accumulation leads steady progress.)