Qilin Talk

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We spoke with a member of our Class of 2023, Alina who was chosen to share with us her story and educational journey at ISD. Let’s get started!


I have had the pleasure of attending International School of Dongguan for the past eight academic years, during which I have been inspired and have had the opportunity to pursue success through my dreams. The school motto Inspire, Succeed, Dream, encapsulates my experience here as a student. I’ve had a variety of interests during my time here, developing a love for music, literature, logical reasoning, and even computer science for a brief period of time. This appreciation for different subjects comes from the constant stimulation of the mind, which inspires one to think and dive into the different worlds of knowledge each subject offers. Success is the result of being inspired, the product of the work fueled through inspiration. Lastly, dreams are possible once one has successfully achieved something through the power of inspiration.



My Journey at ISD 我在ISD的成长之路


My journey with music resumed after I was admitted in the fall of 2015. Prior to that, I had to take a four-year break from my musical studies while I was a student at another institution. Upon admission, I was able to rediscover my love for music. I should note that music was not the first class which had my interest. I could not read staff notation back then—the lines, dots, circles, and symbols meant nothing more to me than squiggles on a page—and being bottom of the class was most definitely not a pleasant feeling. However, the teacher then was very encouraging and kind. For the first time, I was not shamed or punished for not knowing. Had it not been the case, I would never have decided to learn more about music in my spare time and discover this old friend which I had involuntarily deserted years prior. While my fifth-grade years didn’t teach me much about reading staff notation—I had only really mastered reading it in the latter half of sixth grade—it ignited my willingness to pursue this art form.


In my early middle-school years, I had the great pleasure of working with perhaps one of the most inspiring music teachers I’ve met. Even when I could not read music properly, I was allowed to join Concert Band and play. I clearly remember that I had to step in for the tuba part, playing it on cello, with only one week left until the final concert. It was definitely not the best solution, but the band director had complemented me at the end of the concert. I had also picked up the flute under her guidance, and with her help, I was given a solo segment during one of the concerts.


That concludes the earlier years. Concert Band continues to be a commitment of mine up to this day, and I am currently serving as student conductor under the guidance of our current Concert Band directors. Their generous offer of this position allows me to learn valuable leadership skills and tests my ability to analyze music and communicate ideas. I’ve also made valuable connections within the ISD community, some of whom—though they are no longer members of the community—would go on to benefit me by directing me to people who could teach me, the practical sides of music—the technique of playing and performing—as well as the theoretical. I am incredibly indebted to all these people whose path of life had briefly intersected with mine, for pointing me in the right direction, for dispelling the mist that so hazes my vision.


My Way to Get Oxford Offer 斩获梦校牛津录取

I decided to apply to Oxford because I wanted a challenge. Initially, I planned to apply to conservatoires. I was very confident in achieving that goal, and needless to say, this goal has been achieved. However, I wanted to challenge myself further by applying to the University of Oxford which has high entrance requirements, in terms of academic performance, for its applicants. Even after receiving an offer, I’m still expected to work diligently to maintain or even improve my current grades.


It is important to note that conservatoires and universities have different curriculums, with conservatoires focusing more on the practical sides of music, and universities focusing more on the theoretical. Applying to Oxford gives me the option of studying music with a theoretical approach, as the music course there is designed around music theory, analysis and history.


The College Counselling team helped me a lot in presenting myself as a strong applicant. They gave me valuable suggestions on my application, such as my personal statement. Originally, it was incredibly pessimistic, and through the help of the Counselling team, it became one which emphasised my strengths.


The IB Diploma Programme prepared me well with skills for my interview. During the interviews, I was expected to demonstrate logical and critical thinking under pressure. This skill is similar to the skills needed to take IB exams, and taking the IB course has equipped me with the ability to construct logical and reasonable responses in such situations.


Congrats on the acceptance, Alina! We’re thrilled you’re heading off on a journey that you are passionate about. Qilin Pride!