Among tens of millions of high school students in my age, I was truly blessed to be part of this amazing school, which I found from 300+ IB boarding schools worldwide. This miraculous match brought a whole new world into my life--inspiring surroundings of mountains and lakes in Austria; small class size (4-10 students); 10 activities per week; international friends; self-discovery in arts, sports and communication; cultural, political and ideological clashes; pure pursuit of ...fun in life; individuality, confidence, even extravagance; appreciation and open-mindedness; dream and love...and of course, endless coffee shots in the school cafe and yogurts supplies to the houses. Every desired aspect of 21st century high school life school, StGIS provided me. Thank you, thank you!
Coming in the middle of G11 year, I prepared the readiness of adapting, or subjugating, to the established system. This school enabled and facilitated my growth and empowerment, resulting in the one and only "subjugation" that I conducted never to subjugate my individuality in an attempt to appeal to anyone. Whether it is the pressure from majority or authority, the social expectations or stereotypes, or simply the worthless judgements of haters, who have nothing in their brains and only gains sense of superiority by willfully engaging themselves in ridiculing others based on nothing. With so many caring people spreading positive energies and cheering me up each time I felt overwhelmed and doubted myself, StGIS empowered me, and surely will keep empowering every student, to achieve mental security and proudness by not putting others down, but by developing our own passion and talent, with numerous opportunities provided for self-discovery provided. Here, students learn to embrace themselves and appreciate each other in an amazing, meaningful, and constructive manner. Much as I appreciate and relish the opportunity to come, I will never forget all the ups and downs of the last 15 months, and I embrace my heritage and transformation. I will unrelentingly encourage other young boys and girls, with passion, love, and curiosity for the world, to embark on an unforgettable journey at StGIS. You are the composer of your life; be proactive, grasp opportunities, and have fun.
Farewell to high school, farewell to Europe.
Guodong (Thomas) Zhang, Class of 2017 Graduate Student