1. Could you give our readers an overview of your journey as a parent at Dulwich College Beijing (DCB)?
My children Samuel and Jacquelin both went to a local school for their early school years. When my son reached his 2nd or 3rd grade, and my daughter was in her 4th or 5th grade, we decided to move them to an international school.
After visiting a few international schools, we decided to enrol both children at Dulwich College Beijing (DCB) which was highly recommended by close friends and DCB parents. My daughter and son thus joined DCB in 2006 at the Riviera Campus, and graduated in 2015 and 2016 respectively. We had a very good experience!
As an American, I didn’t know much about British schools and I knew very little about the International Baccalaureate (IB), but I’m really happy they went through these programmes. I value the importance that DCB places on discipline and the educational side. I’m happy that they have a well-rounded programme on art, music and sport. I think it’s reflected in all the students. My children have stayed close to some of their friends, and everybody is doing well; some of them have really excelled in medical schools, sports or running tech companies. The quality of the students in this community really impresses me!
2. What are the special moments you remember about your children’s time at DCB?
I used to enjoy going to the assemblies, there was always someone presenting something interesting. I think the music programmes were superb, and so were the drama performances. When I asked my wife about her most memorable experience, she mentioned the student performances in which my son and daughter were always involved. I was very active in the sports activities, I used to travel with the students, and I really enjoyed that side of the programme as well as the sports awards.
3. How would you describe the difference between DCB and the other international schools?
There was more of a community aspect. I’m still very close to many of the parents I met at that time, and I have stayed in close contact with the Headmaster and some of the Early Years teachers who started the school.
A few outstanding teachers have particularly influenced my children’s learning experience, for example, Ms Tomaszun who is still friendly with my daughter.
4. When a child/student is successful, it is difficult to credit to one single contributor. As a parent of successful students, what is your advice to current parents about the role of the parents or the home in the student development?
Both my wife and I are more liberal in raising our children. So, we don’t think mere academics, good grades, make the students: it’s not the only factor. The kind of person they are, how honest and socially functioning they are, also matters. It’s not all about academics, but rather about being well-rounded and balanced. We live in a highly competitive world, so good grades matter but to be well-rounded and having good values is equally important.
I have a great appreciation for many of my children’s teachers at DCB who really helped them through some important points of their life. Teaching is about making a connection with students, and you need to be genuinely interested in their success. Not all students are the same, so to get a teacher to be able to understand the special nuances of the different students is really important, and I think DCB has this type of teacher who is able to connect with the students. DCB teachers have the ability and genuine interest in establishing a good connection with students.
5. One word to describe your DCB parent experience.
It is a community, with teachers and parents living in the same compound and having many opportunities to nurture this community. I was older than the Early Years teachers, but we had a common interest: soccer. We all played soccer in the same team and that created strong bonds which have lasted until today.
6. What are the main life skills have your children learnt from their DCB journey?
I liked that my children were challenged by some of the teachers. There was a good variety of teachers that cared about the students’ academics, but community service, sports and the arts were also important. Both my children participated in community service and learnt to give back. It’s important that the school conveys good and strong values so that children grow up with some discipline and a well-rounded set of skills and values such as camaraderie.
I think the way in which they help prepare the students for college. Both my kids felt they were very well prepared for college.
There were some outstanding students in both academics and sports. One child went to professional soccer now. Some children have grown into very good athletes.
My children went to good schools: Jacquelin (Class of 2015) went to University of Southern California while Samuel (Class of 2016) went to Northwestern University. They are both doing well. A child’s success surely results from the parents’ education, but also the school and the peers they went to school with. Peers’ influence also plays an important role in the growth of a child, so I appreciated the emphasis that DCB put on discipline and serious academics.
7. How has your DCB experience influenced your view about international education?
Better than I imagined. As mentioned, I didn’t know a lot about the curriculum back then, but I came to learn about it obviously. My children have a “world view” compared to most: they associate with international students who have their own identity beyond their home culture or citizenship. Going back to the USA was a bit of a culture shock for both children as they never lived there, and living on their own in college gave them a growth opportunity as they had to become responsible for themselves.