Jasmin Zheng Portrait of a Multi-Talented, Multi-Faceted Young Woman
Posted 05/10/2019 09:22AM
Portrait of a Multi-Talented, Multi-Faceted Young Woman
In 1597, William Shakespeare wrote a play titled, The Merry Wives of Windsor. Shakespeare’s iconic work produced one of the best-known adages in the English-speaking world, which has since been translated into other languages. Shakespeare wrote, “Why, then, the world’s mine oyster, which I with sword will open.” This loosely translates to, “The world is your oyster and is filled with endless possibilities if you choose to embrace them.” For grade 12 student Jasmin Zheng, this age-old adage is a near perfect description of how she has chosen to traverse her life so far. At first glance, Jasmin appears to be a fairly timid, unassuming student, not someone you would immediately describe as adventurous, charismatic or go-getting. However, once you get to know her, you soon learn that Jasmine has indeed made the world her oyster and has taken advantage of every opportunity life has given her since she arrived at Keystone several years ago.
Originally from Fujian Province, Jasmin was drawn to Keystone’s unique educational structure and conducted intense research into the school before presenting the case to her parents to allow her to attend the school. “I was really attracted to Keystone because of the balance of the different educational structures,” Jasmin said. “I was especially drawn to the emphasis on Chinese culture. As a Chinese student studying in China, I am happy to be able to learn more about my own culture and be proud of my own identity, as well as exploring the world as a global citizen. Keystone gave me the opportunity for not only self-exploration but also world exploration.”
A Scientist with a Flair for the Arts
One of Jasmine’s favorite academic subjects at Keystone is the sciences and she has excelled in her Biology classes throughout her tenure at the Academy. Amina Burslem, Jasmin’s Biology teacher, describes Jasmin as an “excellent” Biology student.
“Jasmin is a very good student,” Mrs. Burslem said. “For the Biology Internal Assessment, she designed an experiment about the bacteriostatic effect of traditional Chinese medicine and tested plants such as honeysuckle, coptis chinensis and eight different kinds of traditional Chinese medicine herbs on the inhibitory effect of e. coli. If she chooses, she will be an excellent scientist some day!”
During her junior year at the Academy, Jasmin participated in the International Genetic Engineering Machine Competition (iGEM) organized by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Working alongside students from other schools in Beijing, Jasmin acted as captain of the group, leading her team members on a project that incorporated biosynthetic methods to study mosquitos in order to create a mosquito repellant that would be harmless to humans.
However, it is not only the subject of Biology in which she has thrived. Jasmin proved her literary prowess when she was in grade 10, publishing a novel for her International Baccalaureate Personal Project. Inspired by her other extracurricular pursuits, such as working as a writer for student-led publication The Voice, being a member of Keystone’s Poetry Club, hosting the Education Salon Series, and actively participating in the Residential Life Weekend Exploration Series, Jasmin honed her writing skills at the Academy and found the perfect platform to share her talents.
“I’ve read many books throughout my life,” Jasmin began. “But I never dared to write a novel of my own. However, it was always a passion of mine and Keystone gave me the opportunity to share this with my peers. My novel is a simple story about my hometown in Fujian, a small town that is well known for tourism but not for its history. It was difficult for me to find resources about my town but once I did, it was a story that I had to write.”
Jasmin’s novel, The Flamboyant, is a profound piece of literature set against the backdrop of Fujian during the 20th century. Her novel not only weaves together personal family histories into a work of fiction, interspersed with deep reflective moments of life through vividly imagined characters, it also reflects the pride she has for her hometown.
Jasmin’s interests in the arts is not only limited to writing. She spearheaded the marketing campaigns for Keystone’s first student-led theater production, Junzi, and she also acted in the production and coached her other peers during the production process.
Jasmin’s various interests and pursuits, from the sciences to the arts, are ultimately reflections of her myriad identities. From helping to establish Keystone’s first cross-country athletic club, to coaching students in Keystone’s BRIDGE club, Jasmin’s roles as student, artist, scientist, actor, and stage manager encompass her philosophy of taking advantage of everything that life has to offer and running with it.
Jasmin’s genuine desire to serve and help others is most evident in her service-oriented roles at the Academy. As a first-time residential student, she empathizes with students who are also living away from home for the first time, and has served as a Dorm Proctor on her floor.
“I am retired now,” Jasmin joked, “but I initially decided to become a proctor because I wanted to help other students acclimate to Keystone. When I first arrived, the transition was a bit difficult for me. Being a dorm proctor allowed me to connect with my peers outside of the classroom and it was a great way to involve students in the Keystone community.”
Keystone is a member of the Round Square Organization, a federation of nearly 200 like-minded and socially-conscious schools, and Jasmin has taken advantage of the international educational conferences that take place around the world. In October 2018, a delegation of Keystone students attended the Round Square International Conference in Ottawa, Canada. “By attending this conference, I learned about so many different global perspectives. I have experienced diversity through other programs that I have attended, however, students in the Round Square Organization are special. They are more willing to speak with other people regardless of race, background or nationality. By speaking with them throughout this conference, I gained so much knowledge from different parts of the world,” Jasmine said.
One of Jasmin’s longest service initiatives during her tenure at the Academy has been her active involvement in the annual service trip to the mountainous country of Nepal. Each year, students are selected by a council comprised of teachers and students to attend a service trip of which the goal is to help a community in need. Attending this global service trip has been one of the highlights of her time on campus.
During the 2019 Nepal Spring Talent Concert at Keystone, students sung, danced, and acted in order to raise funds to purchase materials for the Nepalese community during their service trip. The delegation painted classrooms in bright colors, animating the environment in order to stimulate and improve the Nepalese students’ learning experience. Students organized and taught mathematics, Chinese, and even personal hygiene classes to students in the local Bandipurian school.
In another service initiative project that Jasmin spearheaded, the group even provided hygiene packs filled with toiletries as a supplement to their hygiene course and allocated one to each student. In addition, sports equipment such as soccer balls and frisbees were given out to help keep the students active and engaged through physical activities. Books were also donated to help supply a local school classroom, courtesy of parents who had purchased used books from the Roundabout Charity Organization in Shunyi, Beijing.
“Jasmin has a strong link to who she is. She possesses deep understanding, broad knowledge, and tangible respect for what it is to be Chinese, with its thousands of years of literature, philosophy, culture,” Patricia Power, Jasmin’s Theory of Knowledge Teacher and IB Extended Essay Coordinator, said. “At Keystone, she has been given a very strong platform from which to see the world. Few young people know this about themselves and their culture in this way, and it gives her the certainty from which to view the world.”
“She is curious and she doesn’t show this in a loud or ‘pick me’ kind of way but in an steady, assured way,” Mrs. Power continued. “She has this ability to bring other people on this journey with her. I don’t know why or how but she does. And this is what makes her a great learner.”
Jasmin has been accepted by St. Andrew’s University in Scotland. The flexibility of the curriculum at St. Andrew’s will allow Jasmine to continue to explore her passions and other academic interests. Famous for producing graduates such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge of Cambridge, at St. Andrew’s Jasmin intends to study Anthropology and East Asian Languages, while also completing more service work in her new community. “I’m looking forward to studying in a new country,” Jasmin said. “I feel like this will be another chapter in the book of my life.”