Dear Pao School Community,
After speaking to 36,000 students at Ningbo University in October, I felt inspired. The occasion was the school’s 30th anniversary celebration. Ningbo University was established in 1986 with the donation of my father, Sir YK Pao. Ningbo University has historical significance because it was funded by an overseas Chinese and was the first school of its kind: the first ‘home-spun’ university when China opened up to the world in the early 1980s. My father had the foresight to ‘invest in’ the training of human capital as China took steps to modernise. The notion that ‘教育强国’ (‘To strengthen education is to strengthen a country’) was Sir YK Pao’s mission when he established Ningbo University. This mission is continued at YK Pao School, which Philip Sohmen and I established in 2007 with the vision of ‘Building a School for Tomorrow's China’.
As the Honorary Chairman and President of Ningbo University, I am full of hope. 30 years after its founding, Ningbo University now offers doctorate degrees, and is recognised as one of the top five universities in Zhejiang province. It has merged with two other schools to become a comprehensive university, offering programmes in material science, computer science and technology, fisheries science, marine biology, and English, to name a few. Alumni have achieved success in various fields including architecture, IT, civil service, science, engineering and more. Impressively, alumni also raised RMB100 million in donations to celebrate the school’s 30th anniversary. The culture of giving back to society has certainly taken root at Ningbo University.
As we reach Pao School's 10th anniversary, we can be proud of having achieved the first milestones in our mission for whole-person education. As we strive for school-wide accreditation through CIS and WASC, we seek higher rigour in our academic pursuits. We have engaged luminaries in physics to speak at our school, such as Zhang Jie, President of Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The talk he gave to our students was inspirational, fortifying the need to be innovative and focused in one's academic endeavours. We look forward to joining hands with Jiao Tong University in preparing Pao students for university life.
It is with great pride that we note the publication of the 40,000-word historical fiction work ‘The Book of Light and Darkness’, written by Year 8 students David Xi and Horace Ding. This book was awarded with distinction by the magazine 'China Campus Literature' on 24 May. ‘The Book of Light and Darkness’ tells the story of two soldiers during the Franco-Prussian War, a subject that is not covered by our European history lessons. The publication of this book is a quintessential example of how Pao students excel beyond the classroom. Well done, David and Horace! In the Pao community, we look beyond satisfying examination needs; we instil a desire to discover the joy in the pursuit of knowledge. And we always go a step further, pushing our boundaries.
Looking back over the past ten years, we have won many athletic championships. ‘A sound mind and a sound body’ is very much part of our mission. It was especially touching that the 2012 Olympic sailing champion Xu Lijia visited Pao School, and shared with us her arduous path to success. With great perseverance, she overcame sight and hearing impairments to triumph in the Olympics. She sets a sterling example for us all.
Our endeavours to become a world-class school are further illustrated by the engagement of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, which held a weeklong learning lab at Pao School in October, helping our teachers to incorporate the arts into their lessons, and be more creative in teaching. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
As we are poised to send our students to universities, we strive to brand our school name abroad. We were pleased to be invited to the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai to meet Dr John B. King Jr, the U.S. Secretary of Education. Philip Sohmen, as the moderator of the forum, led six Pao students to participate in a discussion about education in the United States and China. Slowly but surely, Pao School is appearing on the radar screen in the United States as a noteworthy Chinese school.
To kick off our 10th anniversary celebrations, Pao School organised a Character Education Summit on 4 and 5 November. Pao School aspires to be a front runner in character education by bringing together some of the field’s foremost experts.
We look back on our first ten years with pride. Like Xu Lijia, we had to overcome many challenges. Like President Zhang Jie, we grow up in an environment of certain pre-conceived ideas, and we have to forge our own distinct path. As pioneers in education, we need to persevere. Like Ningbo University, it will take us 30 years before we can reap the fruits of our labour.
Prof. Anna Pao Sohmen
Chairman of the Board and Founder