What are you up to right now?
Currently, I am working in an international bilingual school in Beijing, which was founded 20 years ago, as an Executive Assistant to the Deputy Head of school. My role here is to fulfill a diverse range of duties and special functions for the foreign school leadership. I am integrated into every element of the school and program, and deal with a range of sensitive and often urgent matters. Highlights in my work life would be project management of school events and activities, school and community relationship management, and leading community service.
Can you tell us more about your current role and what made you decide to take on this role?
During my four years back in Beijing, I have worked in multiple international schools, and also worked in a team that built up a school. Some roles I’ve held include Administration Manager, Operation Manager, and PA (Personal Assistant) to the Associate Director. The reason I decided to take on my current role this year, is that this position offers me lots of opportunities to be involved in the lives of students. I love interacting with students, as well as challenging myself to deal with school-parents communications.
If you could highlight one memorable experience in your working experience so far, what would that be?
It is hard to just pick one, since there are a lot. If had to, it would be when I had a co-presentation with my principal in “How to build a sustainable community service program with authentic links to the UN global goals” in a ManageBac conference as the Community Service Coordinator in 2017. That was my first experience making a speech in an education conference, while also spreading the ideas of what we were doing in community services.
What are some of the lessons learned or challenges faced at your current role?
The workplace is where miscommunication and misunderstanding happens the most. Keep it simple and just be sincere; telling the truth and being willing to help always works. In my current role, there is lots of communication happening between the school and parents, such as dealing with questions and even complaints.
There was a mum who called in and yelled over the phone due to a case left over from last year before I came. She was very upset and angry, but I listened to her for hours, helped her solved the case, and called back to follow up on her. We became friends after that. It is the same for lots of other parents. Over the years, even though I changed roles, I eventually found out that the most efficient approach is just to be sincere.
How do you feel studying at the Singapore campus of James Cook University has helped you? What do you miss the most about your time at JCU?
Almost 6 years of studying and working in JCU is the most valuable experience in my life. It encourages me and motivates me when I am stuck in a rut. How has JCU helped me? My confidence, my kindness, my strong body, and my passion to the education industry.
What I miss the most is that 2 years working in student services after I graduated. I served as an Executive in Student Services. That is one of the most special things that JCU offers to students – the career opportunity.
I started my education career in JCU. It helped me grow from an international student to a truly international citizen, where I got to learn how to work in a cross-culture environment. When I came back to China, the reason I chose to work in a school was because I can work well in the international environment, and I have fallen in love with this job.
What would be your advice for current students?
Be brave – Language could be a barrier, but it is only temporary. If you don’t know how to express yourself, then smile more. Build connections with people using sincerity; people will feel it.
Be optimistic – Believe in your goals, it will happen in one day.
Be strong – Keep exercising, and keep fit. Motivation comes and goes, discipline keeps you going when you’re feeling low.
Be passionate – Keep an open-mind, try as much as you can.
What's the next step for you?
In life, my next step is to become a mum. My husband is also a JCU graduate, and we have been together for 14 years. In my career, I will try to venture into more areas in International Education that I have not yet known to challenge myself with, especially in helping parents with their preparations before they decide on an international school for their children.
Lastly, JCU's strategic intent is ‘Creating a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide through graduates and discoveries that make a difference’. How do you think you have made (or are making) a difference?
- I joined the Toastmasters Club when I was a student in JCU. After I came back to China, I also joined a local Toastmasters Club. Till now, I have been in Toastmasters for 10 years. Through numerous contests and speeches, it not only widened my connections with society, but also built up confidence in my leadership abilities, that I can lead my team and serve students and parents better. I am keen to set up a youth Toastmasters Club in my school.
- I was surrounded by lots of professional and caring teachers/colleagues when I was studying in JCU and working in student services. It made me want to be a caring person like them. So, after I came back to China, I started doing community services. Last year, with a few friends, we founded and launched the first International Optimist Club in Beijing, and helped more children to have a better and brighter future. So far, we are focusing on building audiobook libraries for rural kids.
- The last one I would like to share is my first hike was in the Hiking Club, and my first run was with my colleagues in JCU in the “Run For Purpose” event. I remembered both of those experience was a nightmare to me and really disastrous. However, I eventually made it through to the finish line for all of them. That experience made me want to be a runner, so during these years, I kept running. Till now, I have run 400 km, including my first half marathon and first trail mountain marathon. I also formed a football team to keep other people running together.
JCU has made a huge difference in my life, and I believe it continues to make a huge difference in lots of students’ lives. As a former student, a former staff, and alumni, I wish our university all the best, and hope that we will make you proud of us too.