2 Done, 2 Left

I don’t know how to start this post off. I am finding it very hard in the way that I have so many different emotions inside me and I simply can’t express them all. It has been almost two weeks since I said goodbyes to people I have spent my entire year with and drove down the hill. I have been flicking through graduation pictures, trying to hold on to memories I have with the second years and slightly regretting the limited amount of time I have spent with them. But on the other hand, I am so happy for them surviving their two years in MUWCI and being able to go on and pursue their next journey in life.

My first-year experience was amazing. It is impossible to describe my 9 months experience with some simple words. There have been ups and downs, things that I regret doing, a lot of stress, but mostly happiness. Happiness in a sense that I am doing things that I love and enthusiastic about- Fire Service, Kriya Frisbee, Ultimate Frisbee etc. Happiness in a sense that I am learning things outside of the classroom. Happiness in a sense that I know I have a strong support system- people who are willing to listen to every single thing I spit out from my mouth without any judgement, but encouragement and care instead. And most importantly, happiness in a sense that I feel love all the time from people around me.

Studying in UWC, being in MUWCI have been my dream since I learned about the movement on day one. I chose India as my first choice because it has been somewhere unknown to me, somewhere that I wanted to learn more about. I didn’t expect much before I go. I was making the most out of my time before MUWCI- ‘the most transforming experience’- and I know that I will step back home being someone completely different.

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My first trip to Pune, travelling on a rickshaw with two people who I am still good friends with!

I walked into MUWCI without knowing anyone. All I know back then was I wanted to join Fire Service. But that was it. I didn’t open myself much during first term. I was trying to figure out everything that’s happening in MUWCI. A lot of things happened in first term that I regret massively, however, I guess those were things that made me stronger and shaped me into who I am now. I had close friends next to me who supported me and helped me out of hard times.

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Those who support me through difficulties during first term and second term. I love them immensely ❤

As second term approaches, I know that I wanted to take care of myself more and accomplished more here. I wanted to know more people, sleep more, study harder, and do things such as climbing up the internet tower. To be honest, I am not sure if I have achieved any of those. However, second term made me love MUWCI more than ever.

I have dedicated myself more to my trivenis- Fire Service and Kriya Frisbee (and ultimate frisbee of course!). I love Fire Service because I am always learning new things and overcoming challenges. I had the opportunities to hike the AMK fort with the team during project week. Being very scared of height, hiking on the edge of the cliffs for three days wasn’t necessary my cup of tea. But the scenery was beautiful and I appreciate the people around me a lot.

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Waking up to this
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The last sunset before going back to campus

Aside than talking about random things and playing werewolves, we had the opportunities to reflect on outdoor education and experiential learning- both which I am passionate about! I think the AMK trip, along with Fire Service make me realize how much impact experiential learning have on my life and my personality. This was one of the most challenging things I have done in my life, but I am so grateful to have this opportunity to face the challenge.

Other than Fire Service, Ultimate Frisbee has played a huge role in my life this year. I went on a trip to Mumbai with a few very close friends of mine. We went to participate in an ultimate frisbee tournament, but most importantly we had a lot of fun!!! Although we miss the Holi celebration on campus, this was one of the best weekends this year!

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Thunder Tower- machine at the mini amusement park at Mumbai that takes you to 40m high and drops you down. They say fear draws people closer 🙂
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And yes, we went there to play frisbee!

Kate (the one that looks like a monkey) and Sirig (the one with tight shorts on the front right), are people I look up to throughout my year at MUWCI. They are strong and fearless, at the same time very caring. We joke about them being our parents, but they have actually played such a huge role in my life at MUWCI. I can’t wait to meet them years from now, going on another round of Thunder Tower, and seeing them achieve what they want to in life.

As first years were bombarded by assignments and deadlines, while second years were getting ready for mocks and exams, the Kriya Frisbee team also had the opportunity to travel to Mumbai for a beach tournament. This was a milestone for the Kriya Frisbee project. It was the first time for most of us to ever participate in an ultimate frisbee tournament. We put in so much effort for the tournament, from training, planning, budgeting, fundraising, to actually getting there, sorting rooms, waking up at 4 am, running at the Central Station of Mumbai to catch the train, being hungry, suffering through the heat on the sand, and battling on the Mumbai local train. But in the end, everything pays off. The smiles on everyone face, lay-outs, breaking gender barriers, and feeling like one big family. I crashed within seconds on the ride back to school from Pune train station with Phoebe, waking up realizing that I am back at MUWCI with IB again.

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Having loads of fun!
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On the female compartment on the local train (with guys at the back). A lot less crowded than the men compartment!
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The Kriya Frisbee big family ❤

 

I don’t know how to express how close the Kriya Frisbee team has been this year, but I am so grateful for them. I look up to the second years on the team so much. For how crazy, but also lovely and strong they are. But we know that as our first and final Kriya Frisbee dinner came by, it was almost time to part.

I tried to hold on to everything towards the end of second term. It was very hectic and stressful in terms of IB but also events that were happening on campus. As end-of-year exams approached along with more deadlines, time also flew by. There were so many things that I wish I could have done but didn’t with the second years. There are regrets, but deep down inside, I pat myself on the shoulder and said, you have done enough.

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Bonfire on the third to last night with some very close first years and second years of mine. Last time to talk before we set apart
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The core of my support system ❤

I didn’t realize how close I was to the end until my exams ended. Taking off pictures from the wall of the room I barely spent time in, packing everything into suitcase and boxes and making sure that everything will be in order when I depart. Gathering next to a bonfire that we set and spending few last moments with people I got close with this term. I am so happy to see the second years walking down the aisle, collecting their certificates, finishing their two years journey on top of a hill, in the middle-of-no-where, rural area of Pune, India.

I started writing good-bye letters, to second years who I wish I have spent more time with, who I love and cherish. Not much more can be said, but tears dripped down as I wrote those letters. These are people who I look up to. They guided me through my MUWCI life, who I can literally run to and cry during hard times, but also the countless conversations and great memories I have with them. Nonetheless, grad night was a lot of fun, which definitely didn’t prepare us for the departure we had within hours on the next morning.

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Thunder Buddies- till we next meet!

Saying goodbyes was very hard. It breaks my heart thinking how much they have helped me when I struggled through my MUWCI life, and all I can do is to cram everything that I wanted to say to them into some tearful hugs and goodbye. We forced ourselves to get on the jeep that set us away from MUWCI, and cried more as the jeep drove away from everyone else.

I guess this is the end of my first year at MUWCI. There’s not much else I want to say, other than how much I appreciate those who walked through this part of my journey with me. I am so grateful for having the opportunities to meet different people and experience crazy things at MUWCI, and I can’t wait till more memorable experiences next year.

With all love ❤

Jenny

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Priorities ?

I have gotten into the routine of complaining here. The countless amount of work I have to do, not just for IB, but for MUWCI, in general, is crazy. I have a list of twenty plus things that I need to do, some big ones, some small ones, but all very time-consuming. 

Last Thursday was the Indian Republic Day, also a change of pace day in MUWCI. Basically, the concept is that us, students and faculties would take a day off and do different things. Obviously, that didn’t happen for some of us, including me. I was told on Monday that I should go to an Economics catch up class on the morning of change of pace day, 10 am, more precisely. 

I spent the Wednesday night chilling with some of my closest friends here till very late. I guess that’s what a lot of people do when there’s a free day on the following day. These midnight conversations are some of the best memories I have in MUWCI. We talk, listen to music, dream, judge, spit all of our emotions out. 

After coming back from winter break, I spent two whole weeks studying till 1 am every day. I lost count of socialising, but instead focus a lot on the upcoming SAT. As predicted, I fucked it up, but what I have realised, not just getting a shit score, is that I have missed hanging out with my friends so much. I miss talking to people during Check-in (when your Wada parent checks that everyone is still alive), going to my closest friend’s room, hanging around in the courtyard. You realise how much universities, scores, IB started to haunt you, but also how important it’s to find a balance between life here. 

I have 4 ’S’- Sleep, Study, Sports, Social. Over the past two weeks, I have managed to put all 4s into my daily life, but getting a lower score on the Sleep and Social parts. I woke up at 6:30/7:30 to go for a run every morning, then I do fire service in the afternoon that takes into account of sports. Study starts from 9:30 pm to almost 1 am every day, but sometimes also fitting in one or two study sessions in the afternoon depending on the amount of trivenis. Social- Saturday night counts. Sleep- five to six hours (optimistically) every day. 

Yes I die, I was zombie liked, but I picked myself up after SAT. I started crossing off things that have accumulated on my to-do list in the past weeks, if not months. 

One advice for future first years is definitely thinking about what you want to get out of MUWCI. Do you want to focus on studying? Do you want to focus on services? Do you want to focus on talking to people around you? 

I guess it’s not that easy to make up your mind, but for me at least, I want to talk to people and treasure these small talk moments. I don’t want my MUWCI experience to be for getting into uni. Trust me, when you get here, you feel all those pressure of getting good grades and doing things for uni, but just make it your experience. 

Everyone experience their MUWC life differently. Sometimes, giving up one thing opens up another opportunity in life that you would have never imagined. As economics have taught us, every decision has an opportunity cost. 

1 Over, 3 To Go

The first term is officially over.

My first memory of MUWCI was seeing that 5km sign in Paud when I suddenly realise that I was in India. Somehow time has managed to sneak past us and I am now writing this from home (Hong Kong).

It has been an amazing first term and I could not have asked for any more or less from this term. I simply cannot describe the amount of experience I have been through. I got used to the random electricity cut-offs, the bombardment of L&L assignments, frogs in the bathroom when trying to take a shower (regardless of hot or cold), the slowest wifi ever and billions of other things that I despise but kinda miss it now (to a certain extent).

It’s good to have a break.

IB seriously is only the one out of the million things that are happening in MUWCI, though it is heavily weighted.

I remember climbing up the internet hill for the first time with my friends to the ‘edge of the world’; When I walked back from dinner and saw people throwing a frisbee around in the Wada next to mine; All the fire service sessions which I ran up and down the hill or towards the Sacred Grove; Going to the treehouse; Watching a foggy sunrise on Internet hill or seeing the sunset with my goggles on in the pool. These are all the physical experience I went through that triggered a ‘wow’ moment in my head, making me not regret to come to India at all.

However, there are these moments where you question yourself ‘Why the fuck did you choose India?’

Demonetization throughout the entire India making MUWCI a cashless society for a few weeks. Everyone struggled to buy anything from anywhere (including the coffee shop). Sitting on a jeep for three hours to and from FRO (police registration) and waited there for another three hours to sign your signature three times on a piece of paper. The isolation of the campus means that you barely get any good food unless you have the effort to leave campus, which I often lack. Oh, and the worst are the delays and empty promises people have all the time, just cause we are in India.

The interactions with people are extraordinary.

Yes, there are cliques. There are ‘squads’. Asians (excluding Indians), Indians, Whites, Africans, Chinese, Latinos, people tend to hang out with people from their own country or similar cultures. However, it is still the diversity that has driven us together. I have found out so many things from other people about their cultures. In return, I answered weird questions about Hong Kong in ways that I would have never thought of before coming to MUWCI. I don’t want to go all PNC (TOK MUWCI version), but you don’t actually realise how much you have learned from others until you randomly mentioned a random fact your friend from a random country told you.

It’s incredibly crazy how close you get with people. Midnight small talks & cookings, invading rooms and courtyards almost every day (often without a reason), studying/procrastinating/motivating each other at 1:30 am, winging FOA together. You feel comfortable spitting everything to them- literally everything. When tears drop, a group hug is followed, then puns are made with immediately counselling service from them. I have no idea how I could have survived this term without them. 

1/4 of the MUWCI experience is over. There’s already this fear of second and third term, but mostly, the fear of leaving this place full of wonderful people you have bonded so well with. The hugs you give to people before you leave for Winter break will be nothing comparing the tears you have when graduation approaches.

With infinite amount of love,

Jen ❤

My MUWCI life

You start off the day by determining if you have the energy to prepare coffee for the first block.
You attempt not to cry and survive through the long block, plus every single block of the day.
You look up food from your friends’ countries in the science lab when the teacher has already told you guys to shut up for a thousand times.
You sleep for two hours after school instead of the one hour sleep you were planning to get.
You feel helpless when people can go to fire service, and you are in this love-hate relationship with the pool due to your knee injuries (yes both knees).
You determine if the dinner is good or not, by measuring how long the queue in the caf is.
You go to the coffee shop pre/post check-in, to buy a chocolate tart for motivation but also to give yourself an excuse to procrastinate.
You occupy someone else’s room post check-in, to ask about math, but turns into a conversation about nothing, that forces the owner to kick you out of his room.
You eat more than half of the noodles someone else’s cook for you at midnight, and start talking deep as fuck shit in the common room and keep on procrastinating.
You stay in the common room till 2am to finish this 700 words English assignment you have been working on since 6pm, excluding procrastination.
You listen to music and try to figure out what you are exactly doing with your life, but then realize you are doing nothing.

Where walls are mountains, where you drink coffee like water, where there is an over-obsession with the word ‘like’, where you do this weird Indian head shake to represent yes/no/maybe, and where you call it home for the next two years.
Welcome to my MUWCI life.

Writing from the hill for the first time

It’s 9 pm, Sunday night. Many people are probably rushing through assignments, trying to meet deadlines. Some, who either proudly submitted their work or have no work to submit or simply do not bother to submit are sitting in the common room/coffee shop/social centre, trying to make the most out of the social aspect of MUWCI life.

I arrived back from homestay this morning. It was a truly amazing experience to live with an Indian family in a village 5km away from school for around 20 hours. I could have written another thousand words on the experience, but I think it will mean more when you first hand experience it. We came back just in time for Sunday brunch, which is the BEST meal of the week. Crepes/Dosa, Pasta, Omelette, Chicken… five plates for the first brunch (11am), 2 plates for the second brunch (1pm). This is basically how I survived for the rest of the day.

Since I was very sick before homestay, my energy level was very low. I um… overslept a little and missed out the first part of Kriya Frisbee. Kriya is a program that empowers girls from the nearby villages by introducing them to fitness and sports. Since Ultimate can be a mixed gender sport, it’s very useful in terms of bringing girls and boys together in the nearby villages and trying to remove the split between the genders. This is very interesting for me because back in China and Hong Kong, we tried to create a women team in Ultimate in order to emphasise gender equality. However, the limited amount of girls from nearby villages that show up meant that creating a girls team will be a lot harder. This is also more about mixing girls and boys together, playing a sport that really, no ones here know how to play here.

Ultimate Frisbee follows Kriya Frisbee immediately. There are usually 20 people (staff, students and staff’s children) who show up every Sunday afternoon, on the muddy football field and play Ultimate together. Although very muddy, in addition to the crabs that might or might not bite you in every step you take, everyone is so ENTHUSIASTIC. It reminds of playing pick-up back home. Although skills levels are very low her but simply playing it every weekend, I could see that everyone is improving so much in terms of how they throw and work as a team. Mud makes it super slippery, with occasional layouts, but mud also makes it more fun than on turf/grass.

Everything has gone by so quickly, as school officials kick starts tomorrow. My subjects are more or less confirmed, despite how I still wanted to do Economics over History. English essay is due in a little over 24 hours, but with Night School and Chinese for Beginners for tomorrow night, I probably should go on and work on my essay.

Writing from the hill where it is pouring down with rain,

Jen

Inspirations from movies

I suffer badly from comfort eating, 10:15 pm last Saturday night, I crammed myself down with a pack of Salt and Vinegar Chips (such a British thing). I don’t usually justify myself with reasons for why I go miles away from my ‘healthy, athlete, protein-rich diet’, but it usually happens when I feel like I care so much that I just don’t care about anything. Basically anxiety along with teenager attitude…

In less than 24 hours, I watched two really, really, really good films. Let’s be honest, I am not the type of girl who likes watching comedic love drama, I am more like historical related movies? Amazing! Inspirational? Just what I need!

Movie 1: Three Idiots

Friday night, just made it through the school week of lessons like ‘You got to revise for this’, ‘Lets do a past paper’ and all those pre-exams talks. Three Idiots enlightens me. I am not joking. I was forced to memorized and learned by cramming at my previous school. I spent hours, literally hours to remember a poem in Chinese that has approximately 30 words. My roommates would then laugh at my poor memory. But why would I remember anything if I am forced to remember it for just getting a better grade in the exam?

I am learning quite a lot here, mostly because I actually enjoy and want to learn more about it. Everything is not about grades, but what I want and can achieve. However, I have to say the recent pre-exams talks made me felt like once again, I am forced to memorize words to words definition in the textbook. And Three Idiots really made me recognize what I am doing, and how badly I might suffer again from all of this nonsense in achieving A*.

No, I am not saying that people getting straight A* are nothing but with the best memory, in subjects like History and English, you actually need to put forward your reasons and articulate it. I am predicted basically all A* except for DT. My DT practical coursework is due in less than two weeks, and I am not even half way through it. Watching Three Idiots reminded myself of why I chose DT at first- because of the joy of doing something I have never done, and do it without a textbook. I just feel like Three Idiots really taught me that I should be doing things that made me happy and do things happily.

I have never actually felt this right after watching the movies (with lots of tears and swollen eyes next morning), I think I might have for the first time discover and be kinda clear of what I want to do in life. I want to do Maths, Further Maths, Biology and Economics in A-Level (assuming UWC rejected me), take a gap year, I am not sure what to do with uni, then go on and work at an NGO or United Nations. Then after a while when I find out that the world needs futuristic people, I am going to be a teacher.

Movie 2: The Help

I am embarrassed to say this but the book probably had sat on my desk for months, and I eventually watched the movie first on Saturday evening.… I don’t actually know where to start, but I felt like The Help has taught me to brave and really stand up for what I believe in. I remember in the past when people just treat me as a joke when I talked about polar bears, environmental issues and the lack of food security in many countries (I was quite a hippie). I think back to the times when I stood up for what I believe in when people think that I was insane. I feel so proud of myself doing what I did. I am not being narcissistic, but I have really grown and learned so much more about the world.

The Help talks about this caucasian young writer who was secretly writing about the civil rights in America around 1960s, from the perspective of African-American maids that work for rich caucasians. The writer, though was in the high-end of the society, still stood up for equality and what she believed in. Despite of the chance of being segregated from the high-end society and arrested, she was not afraid to speak the right thing out loudly. It’s the courage in her, that really inspires me, and make me reflect myself deeply.

What have I really done to speak up for the injustices in the world? Not much. I write a blog, I post things on social media, and that’s basically it. I am typing this on a Macbook, I got three types of fruits next to me, a bottle of clean water, my smartphone is playing musics from Spotify, and there is 10 books and countless school materials on my desk. Why do I get to have all of these privilege, when there are so many people around the world who don’t even have a home, not to mention what I just say.

Sometimes I feel like I am so weak, and I am just another selfish human with greeds that the world can’t sustain.’The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed’- Mahatma Gandhi

Escaping from ‘Reality’

 

[Picture showing a section of the refugee camp 10 minutes walk from where we stayed]

It has been three weeks since I am back from Ghana, and there is still so much going on in my mind about Ghana. Ghana stays in your blood.
It does.
Throughout the trip, I constantly questioned myself ‘what am I even doing?’ People wish to go to school in Ghana while people in my year is paid 400 pounds for an A*. Some students walk 30minutes to school while people complain walking down from a house further away (max 10 minutes). Students never will encounter technology while teenagers beg for the newest iPhone every year. People wish for fresh water while people complain that the clean tap water isn’t “cold” and “fresh” enough.

What is wrong with the world? 24 hours 365 days, I feel so grateful for where I am and how I live. I feel like I can do so much more to the world and stop living in this developed village in the southern England where things are just too… simple.

What is wrong with me? The norm teenager will do everything to get the newest technology, hang out and go partying with friends after school, get the trending makeup and fashion while getting top grades.

I see myself submerging in a small unknown village in India, tasting Indian spice’s, learning to speak Hindi, teaching locals villagers and kids frisbee, exchanging cultures and involving myself in the experience.

Many people think that I am just escaping from reality. It’s true and so not true at the same time. The reality is that 68% of the Indian’s population lives in the rural areas. The world is around 50-50.

I just think there is so much more I can do to this world.

I just want to go out there, leave everything behind this hectic side of the world, and step out of my comfort zone as much as possible.

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[The calmness before the waves]

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[Where does it take you to?]

One Year since last post

I am leaving Hong Kong on Tuesday night and making my trip back to school in England. Unlike many years before, I am not looking forward to school to start. No, I don’t hold any prejudice on schooling. Conversely, I loved going to school. When I was in primary, all the way until the year of IGCSE, school was my life. I studied in one of the most prestigious boarding schools in Shanghai where thousands of upper-class families hope to send their kids to. I remember begging my parents to buy me an earlier flight back to school and not miss any school days because every day was so eventful. While I was constantly in the wave of playing ultimate, I have experienced the idea of “setting examples” for the school and those manipulating grading system of China. Moreover, the pressure by parents on the kids made me such a different person from kids in Shanghai.

 

I remember in Year 9, I was showing 15+ prospective parents around our secondary campus, one parent out of the crowd asked me “Do you take any supplementary lessons after school in the weekend?”. In China, supplementary lessons are something very popular among parents. They call it BuXi, “supplementary learning”. Yes, I did some English lessons when I was in primary when I first arrive in Shanghai because I wasn’t able to catch up with the English in my international school, I did some Olympiad Math lesson which I stormed out after two lessons, I trained for swimming everyday competitively for a year and more. However, since primary, I have never taken any other “supplementary learning” lessons. I replied to the parent who was questioning me “No, never (which was true because, in their standard, the lessons I took were out of pure interest and relaxing)”. The parent was so shocked and continued by questioning the whole crowd “How many of you don’t have supplementary lessons for your kids after school?” None of them raises their hands or answer. Every single one of them has BuXi lessons for their kids.

 

I couldn’t accept the culture where parents are eager and forced their kids to take numerous of lessons after school. I couldn’t accept the culture where the parents believe scores are more important than the learning of their kids. I couldn’t accept the culture where kids are learning for getting into “top” colleges and “top” companies. I just couldn’t.

(I use the word culture instead of environment because this is becoming the culture)

 

Yes, I spent hours every weekend trying to make the best out of my homework and yes there were times when I hope that someone could teach me how to do a math question. I still insist on self-studying and learning things which I am interested in. I read articles on BBC and the Economist whenever I have free time, I hold strong views towards environmental and human right issues.

 

I took the opportunities to go to England where I thought there are fewer pressures from parents around me. I was right, I never heard of people in my school taking supplementary learning lessons. However, I was in another extent where students themselves care less about studying and focus mostly on socialising. Over the year, I looked up for schools (mostly boarding schools) where the idea of self-studying and global issues come into one. Starting from boarding schools in Hong Kong, I came across to Li Po Chun United World College.

 

United World College is a movement where students from different socio, religious, ethnic, cultural backgrounds come together and hope to make the world a better place. I think this will be the place where people around me no longer treat me as a joke when I talk about global issues (this happen even in the so-called “prestigious” school in Shanghai) and where my peers are aspired to learn purely for themselves and by themselves.

 

I will send in my application this fall and hope to hear further information from them. Meanwhile, this will be the official start (hopefully) of my blog about everything that’s happening around me.

 

Blogging…. ?!

Blogging….?!

I was inspired by a lot of Ultimate Frisbee players to start this blog, even though my “career” of Ultimate is not long comparing to many others, it just a couple weeks ago when I started to throw an OI that I am satisfied with, but what makes me different is that I have been going through a path of ultimate that most players don’t occur in.

My name is Jenny, and I am a freshman in high school. I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Shanghai, China when I was 6. Afterwards, I spent eight years in Shanghai, studying in international schools and a bilingual school. I came across with Ultimate for the first time during my first year in middle school, when I was 12.

Ultimate is growing fast in China, but still, not many people know this sport. Not to mention the scene of youth playing Ultimate under the pressure of GaoKao (Chinese AP/ IB/ A-level) and going into the top universities. I am fortunate to be in a different route than these kids, and can somehow pursue my own interests and passion.

This blog will be about everything about me and Ultimate- how I know this sport, my coaches, my true experiences, Chinese Ultimate, and so on. In addition to my opinions on current affairs.

This blog is dedicated to people who dedicated themselves to the most amazing sport on earth— Ultimate Frisbee.