Steven Shi Embodying a Spirit of Service at Keystone
Posted 05/03/2019 09:35AM

Steven Shi

Embodying a Spirit of Service at Keystone


Steven Shi 




 Bridging Cultures: From Public School to Keystone


A native Beijinger and member of one of Keystone’s founding families, Steven Shi began his tenure at the Academy when he was in grade 8. As a child, his inquisitive nature about the world around him grew into a zest for all things related to the pursuit of knowledge. It also fostered in young Steven an appreciation and humbleness of spirit that encouraged him to share his budding scholarship with family members and peers.



Prior to his journey to Keystone, Steven found himself in the throes of life in a Chinese public school. At public school, there were limited opportunities to explore his passions and connect with fellow peers, leading Steven and his family to look for other opportunities to expand his life experiences. His calm demeanor and desire to cultivate a more wholesome academic and personal life led him to Keystone, where he was attracted to the school’s unique educational infrastructure, mission statement, and bilingual environment, allowing him to exercise his linguistic skills whilst retaining and learning more about his own Chinese cultural heritage. The life-changing decision to attend Keystone proved to be a perfect fit for Steven.


“The biggest change for me coming from public school was the boarding environment,” Steven said. “When I was in public school, the school day hours were much longer. In boarding school, I was initially overwhelmed with the amount of free time I had, but Keystone gradually taught me how to manage my time and use a planner to schedule events, homework, and extracurricular activities. The weekend activities program was also quite new to me and Keystone gave me the opportunity to explore more meaningful activities that I was never exposed to before.”     





 In Residence: Global Ambassador

Since leaving public school in 2014 and joining the ranks of other curious peers at Keystone, Steven has grown to be a student role model not only for his peers but also for his teachers and other members of the faculty and staff at the school. His natural disposition is cheery yet pensive, and always accompanied by an eagerness to help a fellow classmate with a homework assignment, volunteer to lead a service learning project, or create innovative new programs to diversity school offerings through Keystone’s Student Council organization. 




“I have now retired from the Student Council, ”  jokes Steven. “      But I was involved with the Student Council since my first year at Keystone. When I was in public school, there weren’t many opportunities to be actively involved in student organizations. I got my start here as a student representative in the Student Council. As the years went on, I became more confident in what I could do for the organization and aspired to pursue leadership positions.”



As a former president of the Student Council, Steven endeavored to marry his personal interests with the Student Council in order to bring new and exciting programs to students. “In grade 9 I became really attracted to Ted Talks,” he explained. “All of the ideas presented were so interesting and I had never encountered anything like it before. During my student exchange in La Jolla, American students would rush to share news or experiences and events upcoming during assembly. I wanted to bring that culture back to Keystone.”



Steven’s desire to introduce his peers to new ways of thinking and interacting with the world is evident through endeavors such as Keystone Talks, a program in which students can bring their ideas to life and share their passions with the community. Through the Student Council, Steven was able to usher in a new culture of sharing at the Academy, laying the foundations for other programs to blossom in the future. 



“Student Council appealed to me because it encompasses all aspects of student life. Not just academic or residential, but everything related to students on campus,” Steven remarked.




 Lessons from Across the Atlantic

During Steven’s first semester in grade 10, he traveled across the Atlantic to California and attended La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego, California. Learning in an exclusively English environment fostered a keen sense of independence in Steven. Prior to his student exchange, he had never left China, let alone traveled to the US without the guidance and support of his parents. By completely immersing himself in the American way of life through La Jolla’s Host Family Program, he learned to socialize with his adopted family in his new host country and tackled challenges in a new linguistic environment.


“In public school, and even at Keystone, making friends was never a problem,” Steven said. “At La Jolla, it was a bit of a challenge at first. However, joining an American sport helped me to discover commonalities with my American peers.” 



Joining La Jolla’s cross country club eventually inspired Steven to start a cross country club at Keystone. It was during long, reflective moments running along scenic beaches in California that this idea was born. What began as a CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service) project quickly developed into Keystone’s first cross country club. 



“Keystone doesn’t have a cross country club, so I’d never done it before La Jolla,” Steven explained. “At La Jolla, I chose cross country because it helped me to really integrate into the community there, build friendships, and improve my personal development. We trained every day and ran for about 7 to 8 kilometers. As I continued with the sport, I spent lots of time reflecting while running along beautiful coastlines in California. Our club at Keystone started out with very few members, but now we’ve expanded to include teachers and even younger students. It’s a great way to explore the local environment outside of the gates at Keystone and immerse yourself in the local culture.”




 Middlebury College


When it was time to apply to colleges and universities this academic year, his student exchange experience in California was one of his prime motivators in applying to schools in the US.

“Everyone that I encountered in the US was so passionate about the subjects that they were teaching,” Steven said. “I really enjoy small group discussions, which is a very unique teaching style that I found not only at Keystone but also at La Jolla and I knew I wanted to continue that after my time here.”



Steven’s college and university research began at home with Keystone’s inaugural graduating group, the Class of 2018. The Office of College Counseling offers highly personalized guidance and support to all students and families at the Academy. Each student is unique and so is each school, so finding the right fit requires time and dedication to learning about each student and their particular needs. This methodology is crucial in assisting students to find the right future environment where they can continue their academic and personal endeavors whilst maintaining a strong sense of self and integrity as global citizens, a defining characteristic of all Keystone graduates.  



During his quest, Steven turned to former peer Phoebe Sun, Keystone Class of 2018 and Middlebury Class of 2022, who also embodied the spirit of service and demonstrated the power of service learning at the Academy. After receiving confirmation from Phoebe that the Liberal Arts college had a great academic community that cultivated small group discussions and supported students in their quest for intellectual expression and freedom, Steven submitted an early decision to Middlebury. The Keystone connection at the college also proved to be a significant point of interest, as it represents a home away from home for Steven. Upon receiving his acceptance letter, he was delighted to know that a connection was waiting for him across the Atlantic. 



When he arrives in the beautiful hills of Vermont, Steven will study economics, a social science discipline deeply rooted in understanding humans and the world that we shape. Naturally, he was inspired to pursue Economics by his Keystone teacher, Mr. Heitmann. “I always assumed economics was shrouded in bureaucrac, and I did not have a positive impression of Economists!” Steven joked. “When I met Mr. Heitmann, I couldn’t believe that he studied Economics! He is always dressed in such colorful clothes with quirky patterns. I became interested in the field because of him. He deepened my interest in the discipline through suggested readings outside of the class syllabus, as well as his passion for teaching the subject. I’m excited to take all that I’ve learned at Keystone to Middlebury and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me in the US.”  



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