Former Kilsyth Academy pupil, Amy Buck has embarked on an exciting journey of discovery taking the brave step to accept a one year scholarship to study Chinese at the University of Tianjin in China. Amy, who left Kilsyth Academy in June of this year after 6 years, said of her first few days in China “it’s fantastic here, I’m loving literally every moment of it.”
Amy was lucky enough to have a two week experience in China last year through The Confucius Hub and was very excited about the opportunity to go back for a further year. Talking about that initial opportunity Amy said, “when my German teacher told me about an opportunity to learn Chinese at a two-week summer course in 2018, I assumed she meant a quick jaunt into Glasgow every day, and having a few hours of classes in one of the university buildings. Needless to say, when I found out that what she actually meant was a two week long immersion course in China, I was floored.
After a few months of suitcase-packing and anticipation, the 8th of July finally rolled around and I set off, with a group of ten others from Our Lady’s High School in Cumbernauld. The trip consisted of 10 days in the city of Tianjin with a few days in Beijing either side, and were full of sightseeing and cultural activities. While the trip was a fantastic window into the culture and daily life of China, I was sad when it was over, as I’d only had a glimpse of this country, and there was still so much of the real China to experience.”
Earlier this year the opportunity arose to apply for a one year scholarship in China with Amy saying, “So you can imagine how excited I was when, a few months later, our Head Teacher at Kilsyth Academy, Mr Orrock, announced a scholarship programme for a year’s study in a Tianjin university.”
However, she had to successfully navigate a rigorous selection process with applicants from across the country, to secure a place on the scholarship programme together with 21 other young people from Scotland.
The Confucius Institute, based in Strathclyde University, facilitates the scholarship programme for Scotland’s Schools, taking 22 sixth year pupils from all over Scotland to China each year. Amy said, “After discussing it with my family, I began the application process, which consisted of a written application, then a formal interview, and then, a few days later, an email telling me I had been accepted. At the time of writing this, there are just three days left before I leave Scotland for almost a year, and yet I’m not scared or worried at all – I’m just excited to start this new chapter of life, in a country half way around the world.”
“The purpose of this year abroad is, above all, to learn Chinese. Whilst my former school Kilsyth Academy doesn’t currently offer Chinese as a subject, my experience of languages at Kilsyth has no doubt fostered an interest and a passion that has eventually led me on this path abroad. Studying German from being an absolute beginner in first year up to achieving an ‘A’ in Advanced Higher this year, and crashing Higher French in which I managed to also achieve an ‘A’, has been one of the highlights of my time at school. There’s a certain magic about not just forming sentences in a foreign language, but being able to understand and think in the medium of a foreign language that I believe is unmatched by other subjects. You learn other subjects, but you live a language. Promoting bonds with other countries and peoples is vital; language study not only opens one up to other cultures, but it has also been proven time and time again to improve understanding of one’s own language as well as developing one’s brain and cognitive ability. There are so many benefits to language learning, and a scholarship like this is a fantastic opportunity for developing language skills as well as travelling and experiencing new things. So whatever this opportunity leads to in the future, I’m so glad to be part of it, and will do all I can to make the most of my time abroad.”
Claire McAdams, Principal Teacher of Modern Languages at Kilsyth Academy said “it was clear from early in her first year at Kilsyth Academy that Amy had and interest and aptitude for learning languages that quickly became a love of languages.” Head Teacher, Gregg Orrock said “the school is very proud of Amy’s achievements and we are sure she will excel during her time in China.”