ISQ which was formerly QMIS has always been the home for me. My name is Melody Zhang, a senior, and this is my 13th year at ISQ.
My first day at QMIS was one I will never forget. Sitting on the stool in the elementary library, I waited nervously for the principal to come. For a 5 year old, it was bad enough that I didn’t have my mommy with me, but because I had never met a foreigner and had no knowledge of English I was in complete shock. When Ms.Fox walked in, I remember her grey hair, bright red lipstick and strong perfume so clearly. She sat down, said hi and started reading the Little Red Hen. Those minutes seemed like hours for me and my little heart never experienced such hard pounding before. That was my first experience at QMIS.
Third Culture Kid was always a phrase I wanted to avoid because I fit with the phrase but I don’t fit with the phrase at the same time, so it felt uncomfortable figuring out what I really was. I say this because I have never moved away from home, but am in an environment very different to my local Chinese friend, who I do not completely fit with either. I could relate to many of my TCK friends in that I was basically living in a culture outside of mine 5 out of 7 days.
Being at an international school is challenging but greatly beneficial. Most students including myself probably have had the problem of not fitting in when coming to an international school. Many of the ISC schools, including ISQ, has a big Korean population. With more than 70% of Korean population, many students, including myself, once felt excluded from the “big group”, or the majority. It was very challenging being in an environment with the majority and not sharing the same culture they had, however this challenge became a motivation for me. Instead of walking away and feeling sad about not understanding the conversations my friends had in Korean, I would ask them to translate things for me. I listened to K-Pop and watched Korean dramas and found myself really interested in this culture I was surrounded by. I slowly began to understand more of the Korean language, and before I knew it, those friends who were once so distant were so close to me. Being at an international school with a dominant culture really pushed me to understand other people’s cultures and helped me to adapt.
I really enjoyed my years in an international community and am really thankful for the years of multicultural experience I gained in the years at ISQ. These experiences are ones that I would not be able to learn from in textbooks but are ones that I will cherish dearly in my heart forever.
Melody with friends
Melody & parents on a snow mountain in Yunnan