‘Dedicated and steady’ is the comment Director Young at Huijia University Guidance Center gave to Shi Ruimin.
She is smart, daring, resilient and modest… In fact there is a lot to be said about this girl’s shining points.
Shi Ruimin is proficient in English, French, ancient Greek and Latin; she got 7 points (the highest grade) for every subject in Grade 3 of high school and she has been researching classical studies and cultural heritage protection at home and abroad since she was in junior high school.
With all the prominent achievements, she finally succeeded in applying for Swarthmore College, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States, the ‘Dream University’ in her mind.
Swarthmore College, together with Amherst College and Williams College rank in the top three among all the American liberal arts colleges. The admission rate of Swarthmore College was less than 10% based on the data of 2018, which is comparable to California Institute of Technology and lower than MIT. The average SAT score of the newly admitted students was higher than Duke, Columbia and Cornell University. In August 2017, Forbes magazine published the 2017 American University Rankings and Swarthmore ranked No. 19.
Yet for Shi Ruimin, receiving the offer from her ‘dream school’ was both a surprising and an expected result. Looking back at the years in Huijia, Shi was happy that she spent her youth time in a fulfilling and yet free way.
By continually exploring her potential under the support of her parents and the school and through various opportunities, this girl, who never gives up easily, had been making steady progress towards her dream, until the day when her dream became reality.
Building a Dream for Yourself
According to Shi, the persistence and the unremitting efforts she made contributed greatly to her success.
Shi joined Huijia in junior high school, of which the main reasons was that her cousin, who had been studying in Huijia for many years, was admitted by UCLA as she had wished for.
After entering Huijia , Shi Ruimin came to a realization that she has started entering into a bigger world step by step.
The first opportunity for Shi Ruimin to excel her strength in cultural heritage protection arrived when she chose ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection’ as the research topic for her Grade 9 MYP community design project. It was through the project that Shi began to realize that if she could be committed to cultural heritage protection and treat it as her lifelong career, her life would be more meaningful and valuable, and thus, the idea of working for UNESCO in the future came into being.
Surely, Shi’s family also contributed to the formation of this idea.
Shi Ruimin’s parents attach great importance to the cultivation of the kid’s cultural awareness and brought her often to Europe, an important birthplace of human civilization. Prior to every trip, her parents would do a lot of research on the stories behind every historical site. After this long-term exposure to different cultures, Shi gradually generated interest in ancient cultures and the idea of protecting them.
‘My parents often buy books and all my family members love reading, especially the books related to ancient culture and history.’ Shi said.
Shi’s family plays a critical role in enlightening the child and influencing her thoughts and interests, whereas on the other hand, the school provides a platform to extend and develop these interests. In other words, a good school could allow its students to move step by step towards their dreams through continuous practice by providing a wealth of resources.
Zhou, Shi Ruimin’s college guidance consultant commented that Shi has always been a child with strong inner drive and executive power and she would reach out for all possible opportunities to get herself closer to her dream.
During Grade 10 and 11, Shi Ruimin and a friend from Hong Kong jointly launched a project to protect ancient villages. They visited two remote villages namely Yuben and Luo Tong She on the border between Yunnan and Tibet for a deep understanding of the value of ancient village culture and its declining status in the progress of modern civilization. During this visit, they recorded all the details about the villages through the recording of oral history and filmed a large number of videos as part of their initiatives to call on more people to understand and protect ancient village culture.
During the summer holiday of Grade 11, Shi Ruimin studied in the Stanford Summer Humanities Institute, where she took a revolution-themed course led by university professors. This theme aroused Shi’s great interest and led to a piece of highly recognized research, which she made as the final assignment. In this research, she compared the damage caused to Ukrainian culture by Soviet revolution and the damage caused to Tibetan culture by Cultural Revolution.
‘Classical studies, archaeology, anthropology and cultural preservation are fascinating to me and I am willing to make continuous effort to study them. I have lost the count of how many days and nights I spent on this research, how many pages of papers I wrote and how many miles I travelled. All I know is I am getting closer and closer to my dream.’
A Girl Trying to Become a ‘Sponge’
How long would it take to realize your dream?
This girl, who appears to have a touch of ‘sprezzatura’, is in fact like many other dream chasers of her age, whose impressive achievements are only a tip of the iceberg and what is underneath is the great amount of sweat and effort that are unknown to outsiders.
Shi Ruimin said she wanted to be like a piece of sponge and take every opportunity to absorb nutrients that allow her to grow. With her wide interests in reading, film watching, skating, tennis and museum visiting, she has become a member of many students clubs in Huijia and is now working as the chief of literature editing in IB Gravity club.
Shi is also an active participant of all types of competitions. She is a member of Huijia MUN (Model United Nation), an active character in drama competition and the winner of the Best Director Award in the 2018 high school Chinese drama competition. She attended CTB (China Thinks Big) competition, wining the second place in the national game and the silver medal in the North American Finals. Apart from that, she also won the silver award in her group and contributed to the team’s gold award during the 2016 Cornell International Debate Tournament.
Even though attending and winning awards in various humanities and social sciences activities and competitions appear to be nothing difficult for Shi Ruimin, she knows how much effort she had to make for them.
During the process of classical studies, Shi found that language was becoming an insurmountable barrier and therefore, she spent a lot of spare time studying ancient Greek and Latin. She attended the Greek archaeology summer camp in 2018, where she visited every historical site with ancient Greek culture enthusiasts from all over the world and had a productive and meaningful period of time.
‘I spend all my time, except when asleep, learning new things, and my knowledge in ancient Greek language, archaeology and ancient architecture expanded enormously. Apart from that, I also found more clues in the ancient Greek mythology stories I heard as a child, for example the ancient Greek feminism sprouting from the Temple of Artemis.’
Be true to your heart and choose the most suitable university
As with the choice of joining Huijia, Shi Ruimin made a careful and serious consideration of what kind of ‘Dream University’ she wanted to go to, and this time, she had a more assertive idea about what she wanted.
She began to visit various famous universities abroad during holidays since she was in Grade 10 and she deeply understood, just like many of her classmates, that the best university is the one that suits her.
She visited the daunting Ivy League colleges as well as exquisite liberal arts colleges with a strong academic atmosphere. During every visit, Shi carefully experienced the unique temperament of each university and looked for the most suitable place where her dream could take roots and continue to grow. She also utilized every opportunity to attend lectures given by professors from the visited university and experienced the unique teaching style and learning atmosphere.
‘What impressed me most was my visit to Swarthmore during the national holiday in 2018. In the college, I attended a lecture about Plato given by Professor Ledbetter. When the ‘Apology’ of Plato and ‘The Clouds’ of Aristophanes were mentioned, everyone in the lecture hall was invited by the professor to join a heated discussion. During the discussion, the professor only raised open-end questions and left most of the time for students to discuss. I could clearly feel the fierce collision between thoughts and the academic vitality lingering in the room, and I believed this is the learning style I like and this is what I have been dreaming of.’
From then on, Swarthmore became the ‘Dream University’ of Shi Ruimin.
‘Choosing the right school is very important to me. I am talking about my choice of Huijia as well as Swarthmore, as I know that in the most suitable school, there will be unlimited possibilities for you.’
Swarthmore, however, is only a beginning for Shi Ruimin. Just as what she once wrote, ‘I hope I could direct a drama about Tibetan culture after I join Swarthmore, so as to allow more people to understand the connotation and value of ethnic cultures and join us to protect them…’
We look forward to the day, when this girl with infinite possibilities shines on the larger stage of the United Nations.