Two Culver Academies students from China hosted a special event in Shanghai for their classmates, new students and parents on July 25. Jenny Song 21’ and Di Tian 21’ pulled the event together as their senior service leadership project.
“I still remember my exact feeling when I attended the Culver Connection Event at Shanghai three years ago,” Tian said in welcoming the new students. “I had so many questions in my mind before the event: ‘What is it like there? Is it cold there? Do they have girls there…’”
And, he admits, he didn’t get every question about boarding school life answered. But he did find out about the girls.
“I did meet a lot of my future friends and got more excited to take my four-year adventure in the corn fields,” he added.
That is why Tian and Song worked so hard to keep this tradition alive during these uncertain times. They also used it to reconnect with current students and families in Shanghai and the surrounding communities. They spent several hours over the ensuing weeks preparing and coordinating with the Department of International Student Achievement before hosting the event for more than 80 people.
“We arranged many presentations on a variety of topics to help new students and parents get to know Culver,” Tian explained. They built the program around the theme “Challenge yourselves, make use of your Culver days.”
Two 2020 graduates, Steven Shou and Leo Bu, shared their experiences and advice on academic and leadership opportunities at Culver. Tony Zhu ’16 and Sherry Xie ’21 shared lessons they learned in their respective Culver Military Academy and Culver Girls Academy leadership systems. And Apple Li ’20 talked about exploring her passions and the extracurricular opportunities that are offered on campus.
Ariana Qin ’21 and Catherine Tulungen, the director of International Student Achievement, shared the latest coronavirus details and an online learning update. Chief International Officer Tony Giraldi reassured students and parents via Zoom that Culver will be assisting all international students in returning safely to campus. Tulungen and her husband, Johnnes, who is in the Leadership Department, answered parents’ questions during a Zoom session at the end of the event.
Despite the travel restrictions and all the uncertainties caused by coronavirus pandemic, the families heard the faculty members and student leaders will continue to support international students.
“I’m grateful to see everything Culver has done to help us,” said a parent of a new CGA student, “but I’m more gratified to see students taking initiatives to help their communities. This shows the value of Culver leadership programs more than anything else.”
Students in Beijing and the surrounding communities are planning a similar event.