In January 2020, Gilmour welcomed two new Chinese exchange students. Sam Luan (’24) and Jerry Zhu (’24) began their “explosion trip” in 8th grade. The “explosion trip” allows international students to expand their learning by exploring different cultures. Luan and Zhu are happy to study in America.
Before their arrival, there were 19 Chinese students at Gilmour in different grades. With 21 Chinese students total, 57% are from Beijing, the capital of China; 24 % are from the north of China; the remaining 19% are from the south. Halfway through this semester, Luan and Zhu reflect that they are pleased about studying at Gilmour. Luan said, “Hockey is the love of my life. And I can practice at the ice rink as long as I want. My classmates are warm-hearted. My teachers are super nice.”
Since Gilmour is a Catholic school, students are encouraged to accept other cultures from different countries and show inclusiveness. That’s why these two Chinese students came to Gilmour. They are eager to blend into new and interesting cultural backgrounds.
Zhu said, “Playing Varsity A basketball is my dream. I’m struggling with that. I think the one problem I have to face now is communicating with others. It challenges my speaking ability.” He feels he is right. People have a period to adapt to a new environment. When international students get over this difficulty, they appear to be able to handle later studies easily. According to some surveys, Chinese students think art subjects such as history, are the most difficult for them. Zhu said, “Religion is hard for me because I had never taken religion before and knew very little about Catholicism in China. So studying this is definitely a fresh experience.”
Luan explained the reason Chinese students study so hard is they want to come through for their parents. Luan said, “My parents always work very hard in China, and I don’t want to let them down.”
Generally, these Chinese students have continuing substantial support to afford a more expensive tuition in a foreign school. Therefore, the parents of Chinese students often feel a lot of stress. These hard-working parents cannot get away from their busy work and sometimes even need to work overtime. While Chinese students may enjoy living in the dorms, Luan and Zhu appreciate their time at Gilmour and the sacrifices their parents make to send them to the Academy.