He Xinyang, or by her English name Jessie, is a 16-year-old High School student from Beijing, China. She came to Finland to learn more about the Finnish school system and is attending classes at Kaleva High School in Tampere. In China, she attends the High School Affiliated to Beijing Institute of Technology, BIT.
Her trip to Europe is five days long. She has traveled a lot in China and this is her second time traveling outside her own country. She has been earlier to Singapore.
We had the opportunity to interview Jessie and to learn more about her experiences being a High School student in China, as she was staying with the Malmivaara family overnight.
Large Class Sizes and System
In China, the class sizes are large. In one class, there are around 40 students and all of the students are studying really hard. The classes are leveled for A, B, C and so on depending on the level of the students. A level has the best teachers.
“The teacher can be kind of hard, but we are all active and ask questions. We are also patient, we want to learn”, says Jessie.
“I love learning”, she continues. “Most of us are motivated to learn so that we can get a high score in exams and have a brighter future.”
Studying hard helps the students to get higher scores. This helps them to get into a good university and a better workplace.
“This is why Chinese students study so hard and are so motivated.”
Jessie goes to a public school. There are also private schools but they are very expensive. And anyway, the teaching is also very high quality in the public schools.
In her school, everyone has to wear a school uniform until they go to university. That way, all the students are equal.
Students seldom use laptops or other mobile devices in learning. In her school, one can attend a course where digital tools are used in studying, but it is not mandatory. Most of the learning is still done with pen and paper.
In her school students do not study coding either. Even as the High School is affiliated with the Beijing Institute of Technology.
Getting into a good university and a good job is important to Jessie. She wants to get a job where she can achieve her dreams and be a leader.
As one of the leaders of the school’s student union, she already has experience of being a leader and helping others.
“I want to get a job where I can achieve my dream and live happily. It is not about money. I want to be a leader. I want to serve other people and help them when they are in trouble.”
“Leaders have the right and the responsibility to help others. I can live more happily because the perfect relationships can me us warm”, describes Jessie.
A positive outlook and support from friends and school mates is what keeps the 16-year-old motivated.
“When I entered Junio High, my classmates influenced and changed me a lot. My positive view comes from my personality and it is also influenced by my friends”, she says.
“I now want to share the positivity. If my classmates have failed a test, I support and encourage them because maybe my words will support them and change their future.”
Find Something Good in Everything
The school days are long for Jessie and her friends. Usually, they arrive at the school at 7:20 am and leave around 5:15 pm. Doing homework takes usually from three to four hours. Jessie doesn’t live near her school, so the bus drive from school to home takes almost an hour.
“When I go home, I do my homework. I go to sleep around 11 pm or 12 pm.”
Weekends are for studying in the external institute where they learn how to study better. It is also for friends and hobbies. Jessie sings, dances and plays sports.
“Singing is important to me. If I wouldn’t sing, I would go crazy”, she says laughing.
Jessie found her method for happiness in Junior High. It consists of, for example, having good relationships with friends and also by singing. Family is very important: her mom and dad support her.
“My mom and dad give me a lot of comfort if I fail. They also ask me to study harder. and then, I will get better scores next time.”
In the future, she hopes to have a family herself.
“I want to have a happy family so that I don’t feel lonely, and that I can get comfort when I face difficulties in my career.”
Having a positive outlook on life is Jessie’s strength. As a leader, she also helps others with this positivity.
“Go through the positive and find something good in everything. Bright thoughts encourage me. And if I fail, I will be stronger”, says Jessie smiling.
What Jessie wanted to see in Finland was the clean nature, clean air and to learn more about the education system and the way Finnish students study.
Maybe we in Finland could learn something about her positive attitude and approach, as most of us also have one objective in mind about life – to be happy.