An Interview with Mr. Guangfa Wang, Co-founder of FWE and Principal of Beijing Royal School

At a recent online interview, Mr. Guangfa Wang, Co-founder of FWE and Principal of Beijing Royal School shared his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities in international education, the reform and innovation in the training of individuals with global perspectives under the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Beijing Royal School, the philosophy of education is to focus on students-centered education through fused Chinese & Western approaches, cultivate moral integrity in them, and inspire them to succeed. As one of the earliest international schools in Beijing, its alumni have been active in organizations and events both at home and abroad in politics, academia, businesses, education, and across sections. Their inspiring journeys have started at Beijing Royal School where they have been exposed to quality education resources and opportunities, and later graduated with knowledge, competence and the determination to make a difference. That is what Principal Guangfa Wang is most proud of.

The Pandemic has Brought Challenges to the Whole World

Q: Hello, Mr. Wang. We understand that you are currently in the US. Could you share with us what the situation is like over there? And what’s your opinion about the coverage by foreign media on China’s efforts to fight Covid-19?

A: Based on my observation, New York and Boston are two of the most hard-hit cities. I had been staying in Boston before recently moving to New Hampshire and right now I stay on our Busche Academy campus. Situation here is better as far as I can see, and my team and I work as normal. Our two campuses in the US are undergoing renovation at the moment.

There is no doubt that the pandemic does bring changes to the global landscape, including the international order, bilateral and multilateral relations. At the same time, the collective efforts of the Chinese people to fight Covid-19 are the manifestation of President Xi Jinping’s forward-looking call to build a community of shared future for mankind. It is precisely because of this pandemic that countries around the world are aware of the need to improve their ability to respond to diseases and natural disasters, speed up the allocation and expansion of public health resources, increase awareness of epidemic prevention and control, and make the world pay more attention to life science health, economic recovery, and scientific research.

I do notice that there have been different voices and comments from media lately, especially comments on responsibility disputes caused by the pandemic and I think they are mostly objective and fair. There are, however, many different noises. Some countries for example the United States issued different judgments and assessment towards the WHO’s efforts against COVID-19. The multifaceted nature of world opinion poses a challenge to global organizations. It is true that judgments do differ, but it is normal that countries hold different values, and that different values will inevitably lead to different perspectives and understandings of certain new things.

More talents with global perspectives are needed to promote national development and fulfill international responsibilities. It is advised that parents and students keep calm observation and make wise decisions.

Q: We know that the pandemic has had a huge impact on international political and economic landscapes as well as young people’s overseas education plans for many families. Could you give the parents some advice?

A: To be honest, I don’t think it is very wise to cancel any plans for your children to receive international education.

The past few months have proved that the disease can be defeated, and that panicking does not help. As long as we equip ourselves with awareness, knowledge and confidence, believe in science and have faith in collective efforts, we will win the battle against Covid-19 eventually. We as parents should also see through this battle and know that the world and human civilization will only go forward.

In the past four decades since the Reform and Opening Up, China has embraced the world in economics, trade, education, and cultural exchanges, and it has demonstrated a sense of responsibility during this pandemic by promptly issuing protective measures, sharing information and offering assistance. In the future, China will still face challenges of various kinds; and individuals with international perspectives will be the backbone power to cope with these challenges and build a community of shared future for mankind. As the key to a better future, education will remain top priority for our country.

Therefore, a family’s investment and planning for the next generation of education should not be interrupted or changed due to an epidemic. In the long run, a child will have decades of growth and learning time. Everyone will experience one or another pain or disaster. We parents should help them make rational and correct choices, and lead our children to perceive the world in a global way, to think critically and to make a sound judgment.

I look forward to the day when the pandemic has ended, more families have shaken off anxiety and uncertainty, ready to join hands with the society and schools to forge ahead in the education for the next generation.

Q: When do you think is a good time to send a child to study abroad?

China has excellent basic education. For Chinese parents who plan to send their children abroad for further education, I would suggest that they do so after their children have completed basic education in China. However, it is also recommended that the students should have a general picture about other countries and cultures via short programs such as study trips.

In order to better engage in international communications, one has to have a clear cultural identity and profound knowledge of the history and culture of his own. At the same time, it is very important that they have substantial understanding of the tradition and customs at home and abroad. Therefore, we need to rely on a combined pathway.

When we look back on our history, the New China was founded by people largely influenced by Western philosophy and thoughts, as many of the top leaders in CPC such as Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping had all studied abroad. In the past four decades since the Reform and Opening Up, over 5.2 million Chinese students have studied abroad, and 1.4 million among them are still studying overseas. Over the years, they have made great contribution to the development of China and the world.

As China has now become the world’s biggest source of international students, it is also transforming into an increasingly popular hub for international students. Mr. Chen Baosheng, China’s Minister of Education made the prediction that by the year 2049, China will become the most longed-for destination country for international students. It will be a time when China has greater say in the reform of the world education, and embraces more communications and exchanges via education. A country’s future relies on its youth, and a young man’s future depends on the education he receives. Therefore we as educators need to be responsible, and make wise decisions on the education plans for the younger generations.

The Training of Individuals with Global Perspectives

Q: The idea of “global perspective” has attracted much attention in various aspects such as education and business. As China is actively interacting with the world, many US schools are opening Chinese classes, and foreign business people are learning about Chinese culture. Would you like to talk about something on the “global perspective” in Beijing Royal School?

A: Globalization of Education underpins an open mindset and a global vision. Since its establishment in 1996, Beijing Royal School has incorporated Chinese and Western education systems in its practice, and is now playing a leading role in China’s education reform.

  • Maintaining Close Ties with Educational Institutions around the World

Beijing Royal School has always maintained close partnerships with educational institutions around the world in the hope of understanding and learning from the developed world in terms of economic, cultural, social and scientific development. With that in mind, Beijing Royal School has set up sister school partnerships with multiple overseas schools. The Busche Academy established as a US campus of Beijing Royal School is a manifestation of such philosophy — We integrate teaching models and curriculums as well as share faculty and teaching resources.

In terms of international courses and assessments, Beijing Royal School is always a pacesetter. As early as 2003, BRS was registered as a course and test center of CIE(Cambridge Assessment International Education). Later in 2006, AP Courses were introduced, making BRS one of China’s first to obtain an accreditation by the College Board as an AP test center. Over the years, BRS has been authorized by China’s Ministry of Education, ETS, AQA, Edexcel and other international assessment organizations to administer tests and deliver programs including TOEFL, GRE, A-Level, GAC, HSK and pre-test for SAT.

Years of successful running in these courses and programs has also won us many awards such as one of China’s first “Model School of AP Courses”, and six BRS teachers were awarded “Model Teachers of AP Courses”. We will continue working hard to live up to these international standards, preparing our students for global competition.

We’ve also taken into consideration that Chinese culture and language learning is gaining popularity worldwide, and we’ll open Chinese language learning classes in our US campuses.

My career took off with traditional industry. It was my experience that highlighted the importance of human resources in almost all industries and aspects of society, and that education is the key to quality human resources. As China has reaffirmed the importance of education, I have also looked beyond the interaction in industries and shifted the focus to international education. As we introduce quality educational resources from abroad, our strengths in distant learning and digital education platforms have also reached out via our overseas offices in US, UK and France.

  • Comprehensive Training and Encouraging Environment Allow All Possibilities for our Students

At BRS, students are encouraged to explore into their interests, talents and passion. We do whatever we can to provide students with opportunities to present themselves, on international stages, to the global audience; and our students have benefitted from these experiences. Zhao Peng with the Class of 2019, for example, had been an active participant since his junior years in the program of Peer Leadership for Healthy Relationships co-hosted by BRS and UN Women. He was therefore invited to speak at the UN ECOSOC 2019 Youth Forum at the UN headquarters, and is now studying at University of Pennsylvania.

As a joint venture, we as educators share the same philosophy in education, which is that education has no borders; we should embrace the highlights with an open mind and make the most of it for our students. We equip the young with competence and vision, and they contribute to the country and the world.

The Rule of Law is Essential for Education

Q: We know that a good sense of rules is indispensable, but some students’ awareness of rules and regulations are relatively weak, that might even cause some   to change or give up their overseas study plan. Can you   share with us some of your experience in developing BRS students’ awareness of international rules?

A: I myself have a professional legal background; and this has proved to be an advantage of BRS in legal education. As early as 2003, a delegation of BRS paid visits to multiple Law Schools in prestigious universities in the US, such as the Law School in the University of Minnesota. Over the years, we have maintained strong ties with many of them by paying reciprocal visits, inviting law professors and professionals to give lectures to our students on topics including the law systems, rules of jurisdiction, comparative law, and the differences between the civil law systems and the differences between the trial systems and the procuratorial systems thus opening a window for our students to understand the importance of laws and rules in the international community. We also set up a campaign called “Build a Rule of Law Culture in School” to explore ways to enhance legal education.

Without rules to guide our action, nothing can be achieved, especially when one goes global. In the future, the international talents we train will have a good awareness of rules in international negotiations, international trade and international cooperation.

The interaction between China and international community in the past few decades has brought us to realize that only when one is equipped with extensive skill sets and substantial knowledge of rules, can one make contribution to global governance.

A Diversified Curriculum for an All-round Education

As China’s education is geared towards a more comprehensive way, the assessment criteria have been enriched in different dimensions. On top of the traditional indicators including test scores and class performance, students’ social emotions and ability to interact with the society and nature are being assessed. To help the students find and pursue their real passions, a diversified curriculum including piano, swimming, soccer, skiing, film-making, literature and liberal arts has been designed and delivered in BRS.

Youth is the Hope and Future for the Nation and the World

Q Is there anything else you want to share with the young people in the audience to help them overcome anxiety caused by the outbreak?

A: Well, I want to quote Chairman Mao when he met with Chinese students on his visit to former Soviet Union. He said “The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigor and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you.” Indeed, the world relies on the young for a brighter future.

In a time when the world is forging its way towards globalization and economic integration, China has engaged so profoundly in international affairs than ever, and has gained unprecedented attention worldwide. Its calling for the Belt and Road Initiative, its joining in G20, SCO, BRICS, China-ASEAN Cooperation, AIIB and other organizations have all demonstrated China’s important role in the international community.

I wish the young people could see the world with unbiased mindset, prepare themselves with comprehensive skill sets, respond to the call of time, and live up to the expectation of the world.

I have full confidence that the young will do us proud in the near future. Thank you.