Last month, Cambridge Network held its 2017 ICO (In-Country Orientation) in three cities in China and one in South Korea; the two-day events took place in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Seoul. With an average attendance rate of 86% in China across all student enrollments, over 150 Chinese families attended the orientations. At the Shanghai orientation, specifically, barely anyone missed the weekend event – 95% of the attendees came back on the 2nd day for more information sessions and activities.
In-Country Orientation has been successfully held for six years and is continuously updated and adapted to the evolving needs of the parents and students. For this year’s ICOs, Cambridge Network invited American high school teachers and experienced Cambridge Network staff. In addition, several international student representatives currently studying abroad with Cambridge Network also joined in. They provided new students and parents with one-on-one sessions to answer their questions and share valuable guidance and suggestions to help the incoming students better overcome the transition from China to the United States.
Christine Lin, Cambridge Network CEO, flew to China to attend the orientations in Beijing and Shanghai. There she answered students’ and parents’ questions and provided timely information regarding studying abroad at U.S. high schools.
Every year, the event covers many relevant topics that directly address an international student’s upcoming journey: academics in the USA, international travel advice, independent living skills, planning for university, understanding their health insurance policy, an American culture primer, and more. This year featured a handful of new sessions on topics like conflict resolution, a new student assessment system, and a WeChat mini program for parents.
Students of any age or nationality may have a tough time navigating difficult conversations revolving around conflict, especially if that conversation is conducted in a language that is not their own. This workshop was designed to understand the different kinds of conflicts, ways of defusing or remedying the situation, and participating in a conflict scenario. The goal here was to have students understand a few key concepts, notably that conflict is inevitable, and ways to work towards a solution through effective communication. For example, some international students will want to change host families at the first sign of difficulty regardless of a host family’s qualification or experience. Rather than begin the stressful process of finding a completely new housing arrangement, the workshop stressed the need to communicate first before making any hasty decisions.
Another new segment of the ICO was the implementation of a student assessment system. This assessment is meant to measure a student’s current level of development in the areas of academic success, interpersonal relationships, emotional wellbeing, and global competence. The reason for this assessment is two-fold. First, Cambridge Network can see which areas a student self-identifies as their strengths, and the areas where they can improve. Once these factors are known, we are able to approach or consult with students on a personal level and offer customized solutions if applicable. Second, assessments will be given during the academic school year and students and parents will be able to see growth or changes as a student matures. This measurement is a visible representation of a young person progression in experiencing the stages of maturity that take place inside and outside a classroom.
WeChat Mini Program
In response to the widespread and rapid adoption of social media and messaging apps in East Asia, Cambridge Network launched a new platform for parents to keep track of a student’s progress through WeChat. Through the new mini program, parents can search for relevant information about their student in the system, including relevant updates about their emotional or physical well-being and academic performance. This project came about after our clientele expressed interest in having faster, more timely updates that were easily accessible. After all, their kids are thousands of miles away and it can be hard to receive continuous updates from an involved high school student. Parents can now log into the WeChat mini program with a few screen taps to see what is happening both inside and outside of the classroom.
Thrilled, excited, nervous or even a bit worried, students are starting a new chapter of their journeys. Stay tuned for our students’ success stories in the upcoming school year!