Shenzhen Strong: Woodstock grads inspire Bath underclassmen

By Laura Gauld, Head of School and Executive Director, Boarding Schools

June 14, 2013–Team China rolled into Shenzhen two nights ago around midnight for the final days of the trip. Last night, we hosted an admissions reception at the hotel where we had consultants, prospective families and one young “firecracker” of a boy who will be joining Hyde Woodstock this summer and the fall. Small but packing a big personality, we all were charmed by Simon and are excited to have him join Hyde this year. We made some solid connections with several agents who seem to “get” our message and Hyde students Ferina and recent grad Martin wowed the crowd with their presence and speaking skills.

Hyde Schools in Shenzhen, China: Trust Walk
The blindfold exercise

Today, twenty people came to the final FLC. There were three recent graduates from the Woodstock campus; Martin, Jing and Steve Wang along with three underclassmen from the Bath campus; Ferina, Elliot and Lawson. Also included were parents, aunts, a college-aged brother and a friend who was visiting from Boston.

From the first exercise on the five words, it was clear that people came ready to jump in and the atmosphere was deep and meaningful. Tears flowed throughout the day as parents and students shared their important relationships and defining moments. Lawson Baba talked about integrity in his life and how he had a moment when he could have traded his integrity to get ahead but decided to go out on his own and credits his success with that decision. Ferina Mama said, “I have never spoken this deeply about events in my life and to share this with my daughter is overwhelming.” Jing shared “My courage today is greater than my fear in dealing with my parents.” There was synergy in the room and each comment seem to move the group to a deeper level.

We decided that we were ready to try the blindfold exercise with this region and set up each family in a tight group of chairs. As each member of the family put on the blindfold and held hands, they shared important feelings and expressed family challenges to each other. The emotion in the room was moving to all of us and it was clear that the recent graduates took the risk with this exercise and the other students followed suit.

Finally, we heard the graduation speeches from Jing, Steve and Martin while their parents stood. It was very special as each one of these particular families had not been able to attend the Woodstock graduation. Especially moving was watching Martin talk about his Hyde experience. Three years ago, we were videotaping students for our trip to China and we found out later that instead of talking about what he was learning, Martin made an urgent appeal in Chinese, “Get me out of here!” In his own words today, he said, “I didn’t understand the Hyde education until the last few weeks of senior evaluations, but I am so glad my parents did not rescue me.” As he read his speech to his mother, he became so emotional that he had to stop several times and it was a powerful moment for everyone. In the final wrap-up, it was clear that in just a few hours, we had achieved a depth of communication that transcended language and ages.

We also introduced the senior families to the HAPA organization and they were excited to know that they could continue to have involvement in these meetings.  As Jing Baba said on the way out, “See you next time.” What an amazing day we had in Shenzhen.  LDG