An international look at education

Brahmas compare and contrast their experiences at foreign schools to life in America at DBHS.

Cindy Liu, Asst. News Editor

With millions of immigrants moving to America each year, foreign students are rapidly becoming an integral part of the Diamond Bar High School campus. Coming from countries all over the world, these students bring not only their cultural background to DBHS but also a unique perspective on education due to their experiences in different school systems.

Although DBHS is generally known for having a highly competitive and stressful environment, many foreign students agree that the American educational system is easier than the ones they grew up under. Among these foreign students are juniors Mike Gao, Sarah Kim and Davis Li, who have spent several years studying both in America and abroad.

Gao, who came to America from China in eighth grade, spent roughly 13 years studying in China. There, he attended Beijing No.2 Experimental Elementary School and Beijing No.8 Middle school before attending Chaparral Middle School, where he had his first taste of the American educational system.

“There’s a lot [more] work [in my Chinese school] compared to here and teachers don’t care about students [as much],” Gao said. “I think the [DBHS] teachers are more friendly. They treat their students more like peers.”

One of the major differences Gao found between the school system in China and America was the importance of final exams. At his Chinese school, a student’s grade was based heavily on a few exams every year. In contrast, a student’s grade at DBHS is based more on the average of the student’s performance throughout the year.

At Diamond Bar, Gao’s lighter workload allows him the time to pursue extracurricular activities and sports such as basketball. Like many of the foreign students, Gao experienced difficulties with the new language. However, he was able to quickly learn by talking to his English-speaking peers.

Additionally, students in his Chinese school stayed in one classroom while their teachers moved around campus.

“I prefer students [being able to move] around [since] you can sit in new classrooms [and] you don’t have to sit in the same classroom every day,” Gao said.

Kim, who had arrived in America in August 2015 for the start of her freshman year at DBHS, spent roughly 10 years in Korea’s educational system at Un Hyun Elementary School and Joong Ang Middle School. She is the second in her family to come to the U.S. Her sister, who had arrived first at 12 years old, is a DBHS alumni and graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Like  Gao’s experience in China, a major difference between Kim’s experience in Korea’s educational system and DBHS is the role of exams in academics.

“I feel better with the school system in the U.S. than that in Korea because I’m more of a homework type of person than [a] big exams

[type of person] because I get too nervous for the big exams,” Kim said. “[In Korea,] students only focus on exam scores; [Here,] we are actually focused on how our academic skills are developed day by day.”

Her sister, who was fluent in both English and Korean, helped her quickly improve her English.

“I couldn’t even answer [basic] questions like ‘how are you,’” Kim said. “It was the biggest problem.”

Li, who attended Herbert Spencer Elementary School in British Columbia, Canada, studied at Falcon Cove Middle School in Weston, Florida, for a few years before moving to California for his freshman year at DBHS.

The similarity between the American and Canadian school systems meant that Li didn’t encounter large obstacles when moving to America.

Despite the similarities, Li noticed differences in how Canadian education is more comprehensive than in the U.S.

“In Canada, it’s a little more well rounded,” Li said. “They teach not just curriculum stuff; they teach you about the environment [and different cultures].”

Li also participated in a French Immersion program in Canada, which introduced students to the French language and culture.

According to U.S News’s educational rankings, America outperforms China’s and Korea’s education system, but not Canada’s. American was ranked seventh, while Korea was 22nd and China 25th.  Canada was considered No. 1 in the world by the U.S. News rankings.

With their experience in others educational systems, these DBHS students are better prepared to face different points of view beyond high school.

“Having more experience, knowing perspectives and knowing how people think, it’s good to know that people think differently; that not everything’s the same,” Li said. “There’s no right or wrong way.”