International Student Inspired by U.S. Education System

Campus Life – UConn Today

For Wei ‘Toby’ Xinhai, the road to UConn spanned nearly 8,000 miles, but the distance doesn’t faze him. While he may be separated from his family in Hong Kong, S.A.R. China by a full ocean, the dream of being a teacher has transcended any homesickness he has felt in Storrs.
Wei, a pre-teaching freshman in the Neag School of Education, who is working toward a career as a math educator in the school’s five-year Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s Teacher Education Program, keeps his eye on his ultimate goal. That focus, he says, stems from the respect he has for the U.S. education system, which he says allows for a lot more creativity than education in his home country:
Wei ‘Toby’ Xinhai studying at the Homer Babbidge Library. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)“In China, every level of education before university is operated like the elementary schools in the U.S., namely, our schedule is fixed and we are studying to conquer the standardized test,” he says, “whereas most American schools give students the freedom to pick the classes they enjoy after middle school.”
That freedom to explore culinary arts, for example, or to study media in the American education system was a determining factor in his choice to pursue teaching in the United States.
But the transition to an unfamiliar environment, culture, and country has not been easy, he says:
“So far, my life in college is okay, but I believe that it could get better. It’s very hard to make friends and find a sense of belonging at the moment. In huge lectures, the people who sit by you change, and we’re all so busy taking notes that there is barely time to socialize.”
Wei says he fills his time out of class attending academic clubs and taking part in events with his …

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