The COVID-19 pandemic is by far the greatest challenge this generation has faced. Will the pandemic make humanity more humble, or selfish? This is what we are still observing, yet what is undeniable is that the world is one, and that we are all impacted by the pandemic.
Junyi School of Innovation values education that nurtures the human compassion, self-discovery, an education that encourages youths to see the world and to give back to the community. This is the education that Junyi hopes for students to take-away with them when they graduate.
The majority of Junyi’s first two graduating class students chose not to follow traditional paths. Instead of taking Advanced Subjects Test, they applied for special programs that recruit based on merit, talent and performance, or continued their study overseas through the Junyi Innovative Study Abroad Program (JISAP).
For the JISAP, in two years, five students pursued study at two-year community colleges in the US, and five pursued study at United World Colleges (UWC) in Bosnia, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany and the Netherlands; of the five, three embarked on their UWC journey after completing 11th grade at Junyi. Due to the global pandemic, all students have returned to Taiwan and are continuing their education online.
The unconventional paths, designed by Chair Stanley Yen, was what led to the founding of the JISAP. Chair Yen believes that in places where youths lack the most resources, that these are the youths that need the internationalism, to have the broadened horizons to be the driving forces for their communities to have a greater chance for sustainable change and growth.
Similar happenings experienced in a familiar versus foreign environment can create unparalleled levels of growth. The teenager years are the years that when youths are put into a foreign environment, that it can speed up their growth immensely. Learning in a foreign environment overseas could nurture not only improved English language ability, but independence and a deeper understanding of self.
Umas Chou, Olympic College (Washington, USA)
“Challenging yourself is when you will discover the most outstanding part of you. I never understood this quote until now; and now, it has become my driving principle. At the start of the academic year, with the many assignments given in each class, even though I was exhausted, they provided me a deeper learning on the subjects.” – Umas Chou, 11th grade reflections.
At the beginning of Umas’ study abroad, there was a lot of fear. With time he became independent and eager to take on new challenges. In class he would notice students keen to answer questions regardless of right or wrong; when wrong, he noticed how they enjoyed discovering answers. Later he understood that it was because they weren’t afraid to make mistakes and that they had the courage and encouragement to do so. In the two-years, whenever Umas was confronted with the unfamiliar, he pushed himself to try. If he had kept the fear of making mistakes, he probably wouldn’t have grown as much as he did.
Because of Umas’ curiosity for how student clubs are run, he applied for a position in the International Club as a club Officer. In this position, he learned to proactively discover problems. He discovered that a good team is when ideas can be bounced off of one another to make the final result better. He learned the complexity of cross-cultural communication, and how several elements are needed to be considered to be a more internationalized individual.
In the Intro to Human Services class, they discussed social issues faced in the US. Through the class, Umas understood the meaning of Chair Yen’s vision that to truly help the underprivileged change their futures, that empowering and accompanying creates long-term change. This is a learning Umas will carry forward when he pursues a career in social work.
In some holidays, volunteer Margaret Hammerstad, took Umas to travel. In witnessing the 70-year old lady’s courage and passion to take on new challenges, Umas discovered it in himself. In the summer of 2019, when Umas visited Taiwan, he decided to travel for the first time in his hometown. With new lenses, he rediscovered his hometown and realized how there was much that he didn’t know.
Umas earned an Associate Degree from Olympic College. He will complete military service and embark on a new journey as an intern at Junyi while taking online courses.
Beck Hong, UWC Mostar (Mostar, Bosnia)
“Before being accepted to UWC, I had never heard of the country, Bosnia. Reflecting back to when I first started my study there, I felt like an outcast and lacked social skills. I didn’t talk to anyone, even with classmates of the same age. I didn’t want to have any connection with them.” – Beck Hong
UWC students come from all over the world. On the UWC Mostar campus, there were 200 students from 60 countries. They learned and lived in an English environment. This was not easy for Beck, but with time, he took the initiative to step outside of his comfort zone to talk with schoolmates; he went to parties and even took on the role as the school photographer. Through his courage, he discovered that each individual is unique and have their own talents.
Junyi’s Three Gifts
Before each 9th and 12th grader graduates, they are required to complete a graduation project and present to students and teachers. Through the project, Junyi’s three gifts unveil.
Gift one: Get to know oneself
The first question of the project is, “Which topic shall I choose? Who am I? What do I want to do? What am I able to do?”
Gift two: Learning to work with oneself
In preparation for the presentation, each student will be faced with challenges. Through the process they will witness their own strengths, weaknesses, and will learn to work through them with themselves.
Gift three: Bravely be oneself
The Unconventional Path
Chair Yen’s vision to found Junyi was in hopes to give opportunity to financially underprivileged youths to have the ability to change their lives and their communities. Junyi encourages students to see the world and pursue their talents. With the exposure of having two-years of study overseas, their future advantages would surpass those of Taiwan university students who are uncertain of their futures.
In the graduating class of 2018, six graduates partook in the JISAP. Among them, one will pursue military service followed by an internship, the other five will continue their studies overseas. Of them, two have received scholarships from universities in the US.
In 2019, Daniel Chiu, completed his study at the South Seattle College and was accepted to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University starting in the sophomore year. Daniel said, “If I didn’t take the unconventional path, I would have still just been an astronaut fan rather than pursuing the dream of becoming one.”
After the end of the global pandemic, will humanity be humble, or selfish? The pandemic reminds us all to love the world more – its many cultures and races, and to get to know and understand them on a deeper level. Nurturing youths to find their positions in the world, and for Huatung to have internationalism and talents is what Junyi hopes to give to next generation.