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How Concordia International School Shanghai Is Bringing Social Emotional Learning to Mainland China

By Ben Fishman and Josh Lange
How Concordia International School Shanghai Is Bringing Social Emotional Learning to Mainland China

8 Solutions of Resolution by Ben Fishman

 Concordia International School Shanghai, founded in 1998, and the later formation of Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation (CWEF) in 2005, produced a partnership through which international school students and staff could work together with local Chinese in community development efforts—mainly through education and health projects in rural parts of the country.

From the beginning, a major focus of CWEF's work was to increase education access for students from difficult family backgrounds through the high school scholarship program. In addition to tuition support, CWEF helped to prepare these students for life after school through enrichment programs such as career workshops, summer camps, and REACH, which focused on training the teachers of CWEF scholarship recipients to better support their students' social-emotional growth.

After graduation, three recipients of the CWEF high school scholarship program—Summer, Amy, and Marsha—went on to attend university in the southern city of Guangzhou. Later, all three were selected to serve in paid internships with CWEF. As they served together, the CWEF team mentored them and encouraged their professional, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Their internship experience also gave these young women the chance to meet Concordia Shanghai high school students who participated in CWEF service projects in Guangdong province. Many of the local elementary school students being served by this project are “left behind” in the village (in the care of grandparents or other family members) while their parents find employment in distant cities. 

“It was my first time to see so many foreign students at one time!” recalls Summer Tan. “The Concordia teachers were so nice and cared for us. I remember the Concordia students carrying kids on their backs, giving them love and care, and teaching them. They got along so well, like siblings.” Summer helped to lead the Concordia Shanghai high school service trips for three years, as she and her peers continued their work with CWEF.

During this time, Summer, Amy, and Marsha began developing a large volunteer group made up of their fellow CWEF High School Scholarship program graduates. This group continued to grow and in 2017 was registered as a domestic non-profit organization under the name "Shining Star." Much of the initial start-up funding for Shining Star was from generous donations from the Concordia Shanghai community. Summer, who graduated with a degree in social work, was chosen as Shining Star's founding director. She now leads a team of nearly 100 Shining Star volunteers, who are reaching out in love and service to “left-behind” children and others from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

The philosophy of the organization is that educations creates opportunity and by providing scholarships, education, and social emotional learning, lives are transformed and students will have opportunities to maximize their potential: academically, socially, and personally.

Through scholarships and student achievement programs, CWEF and our local partners are preparing young people for a life of leadership and service to their families and communities.

CWEF’s need-based scholarships make it possible for young people with difficult family circumstances to stay in school so they have a chance to graduate from high school or university, which in turn, places them in a position of empowerment where they too can give back and provide service for people and their community.

Moreover, character education programs prepare students for the future and provide tools, strategies, and knowledge.  Students learn values, character traits, and ethics which leads to a greater sense of empathy, understanding, and care for others.

Students are taught 8 Solutions to Resolution by Ben Fishman, ES counselor at Concordia International school. 

STOP, THINK, and ACT– Rather than saying or doing something that may make the conflict worse, Stop, Think, and Act about a peaceful solution to resolution.  

COMMUNICATE– Tell the person how you feel.  Simply explain to the person how you are feeling by using an I message. 

OWN IT– Own your part in the conflict, it is okay to admit fault, say sorry, and make amends. 

HUMOR– Try using a sense of humor to diffuse the conflict.  The person may want to make you upset so rather than getting angry, try using a sense of humor. 

POSITIVE SELF-TALK– Otherwise known as “inner voice” is thinking positive thoughts about yourself so that you can still feel good about yourself even if you were not treated well. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt (former first lady USA). It’s like an inner voice playing in your head that tells you that you are wonderful despite what the person says or thinks. 

EMPATHY–  Try to think and feel what the other person is experiencing as the conflict is processed together to reach a solution which works well for everyone. 

RELAX and COOL DOWN– It is best to solve a conflict when you are calm and can think clearly about which strategy to choose.  “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” Albert Einstein  

SEEK HELP– If you are not comfortable or you’re afraid or in a dangerous situation, you should seek help from trusted adults as soon as possible. Also, getting another perspective to solve the problem is helpful. 

In addition to conflict resolution, the ES counselors at Concordia International School share western resources which are then used to cultivate a comprehensive social emotional learning program at Shining Star.  

“Concordia International School has shown a tremendous amount of care and professionalism in supporting Shining Star. The Elementary counselors were instrumental in helping us teach students conflict resolution and emotional resilience.” Summer Tan

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