2012-08-22 / Front Page

BH welcomes international students

Kyle Harris

Shawn Rhodes, Brook Hill Boarding House Director, and Meitong "Sarah" Zhou and Wei Lin, Chinese boarding students attending Brook Hill. Shawn Rhodes, Brook Hill Boarding House Director, and Meitong "Sarah" Zhou and Wei Lin, Chinese boarding students attending Brook Hill. In the midst of starting a new school year, The Brook Hill School is getting its international boarding students settled in after what may have been, for some, a long trip.

Over its years of operation, Brook Hill’s boarding program has housed students from all over the world including The Bahamas, Mexico, Japan, Ghana, Kosovo, Taiwan, Nigeria and China.

Wei Lin, a 16 year-old junior in his third year at Brook Hill, is from Wenzhou, about a six-hour train ride to Shanghai. He said he came to Brook Hill to rid himself of the distractions that were inhibiting his studies in China.

“My parents wanted me to come to a Christian school because they didn’t think there would be bullies here,” Wei said. “I was playing a lot, hanging out and not getting to study. In the boarding house, I can study and my grades have improved.”

As a matter of fact, his grades have improved a lot. Lin’s goal for the year is to maintain his perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Meitong “Sarah” Zhou, a 19 year-old senior from Hangzhou, said although she and Wei only lived about three hours apart in China, they didn’t know each other before coming here.

Sarah, a pseudonym given to her by her parents, said she came to Brook Hill to prepare for college. Her mother also does a lot of business in California.

Sarah said she is already thinking about furthering her education after her graduation from Brook Hill.

“I’ve been thinking about going to (the University of) Rochester,” she said. “I think I want to major in Special Education. I might continue my education but I eventually want to go back to China.”

Both Wei and Sarah said the thing they miss most about their home country is the food. They agreed that the cultures differences are large between the United States and China.

Brook Hill’s mission statement is that it is a Christ-centered college preparatory school. Traditional Chinese religions are Buddhism, Taoism and Chinese folk religions. Wei said although his family is Buddhist and didn’t want him to convert to Christianity, they wanted him to go to a Christian school for the values.

“In a Christian school, my parents thought the teachers would be nice, and so would the classmates,” he said. “Two years ago, I was very small, and they were afraid of me getting bullied.”

Sarah said she became a Christian her first year at Brook Hill, even without the approval of her family.

“I think I was called to be here,” she said. “I felt God when I came here and when I learned more about Him, I really wanted to become His daughter.”

When Sarah moved here, she practiced Buddhism as well, and initially didn’t really receive the thought of going to a Christian church.

“At first, I thought, ‘If this is not my religion, why should I go?’” Sarah said. “Then I saw how together the church is, they sing and praise together.”

She said she can tell the difference between students who were educated at religious schools and those who weren’t.

“I have friends who live in New York, and church is not involved,” she said. “The teachers here are really responsible. I’ve become friends with a lot of my teachers here and it’s not normal for teachers to be that open.”

Wei and Sarah both agreed that the instructors at Brook Hill were some of their favorite parts about the school.

“The teachers all have one goal here to prepare us for college,” Sarah said. “They correct our papers as college professors would. I have heard from graduates about how prepared they were when they left here. We have a high standard for writing.”

“Here I feel free to tell the teachers what I really need and they consider what I said,” she said.

Wei has two siblings, a six year-old brother and an 18 year-old sister. China has a “one child per family” policy, but Wei and his family moved to Florence, Italy to have more children. He said he might try out for soccer and track this year.

Sarah is on the dance team, the drum line and the chorus.

“As a senior, I want to go to a good college that fits me,” she said. “I also want to do more for our school. I think this year, it is my responsibility to make the boarding house better.”

The Brook Hill boarding house is headed by Shawn Rhodes, in his first year at the position. Rhodes, in his eighth year at Brook Hill, spent several years in the mission field before settling in Bullard.

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