Leaving Shanghai, my family all thought a wonderful ten-day visit to my friend’s house in Sai Kung, Hong Kong, would be a perfect way to spend the Lunar New Year holiday. Our short holiday, however (with one suitcase packed) turned into more than six weeks away from home!

Thinking back to my own childhood, I was reminded of the 1978 American series – Battlestar Galactica – a science fiction story, set in space, where a ‘rag-tag fugitive fleet’ took to the stars to search for a new home. Well, my family may not be searching the galaxy for a new home, but uncertain about our return to mainland China at the time, we looked for the most suitable accommodations we could find and made our way to Thailand.

As it became clear that Wellington Shanghai would be closed for a longer period, the Master of Wellington Bangkok, Christopher Nicholls, offered up his school to us. In turn, I offered to volunteer in order to assist any other families that were also here. On our arrival we found that we were no longer part of a ‘rag-tag’ fleet, but part of Wellington. Wellington College Bangkok is a purpose built, state of the art, outstanding school, with all the facilities to ensure children can reach their maximum potential and best of all it feels like home.

Here was a school that had reached out to help us in a time when we were faced with a lack of certainty – to either make plans or to know what we should do next. On meeting and talking with Chris, he showed kindness and empathy to our situation. He and his staff responded to our needs, embodying one of Wellington’s principle values: kindness. I left my first day at Wellington College Bangkok, feeling calmer, with a reduced feeling of stress from the uncertainty we had been facing. ‘We are Wellington’ and, as such, found ourselves to be part of the extended Wellington family.

The circumstance was very different, but nine years ago after the earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan, I was offered space at Tanglin Trust School in Singapore to host around fifteen of our families who had left Tokyo for safety.  We were able to run a great little satellite school for three weeks while things sorted themselves out in Japan.  They say “pay it forward” and that’s what we’ve managed to do: I’m delighted that Wellington College Bangkok has been able to support our China families in this way.  And it’s been an excellent benefit for us, too, as the students and parents we have been working with are really outstanding ambassadors for their school!

Christopher Nicholls, Master of Wellington College Bangkok

Besides our arrival, Wellington Bangkok received several other of our Shanghai families: two year 5 pupils and two year 8 pupils as well as my own daughter, a reception pupil. Being welcomed with open arms, the pupils were able to access some of the curriculum offered by Bangkok; our pupils could switch between morning PE lessons and afternoon e-learning. As well as picking up new e-skills and learning about a different culture, our pupils have also been making new friends.

I came here unexpectedly but soon found I could still go to school at Wellington Bangkok. Joining in with their school day and making new friends, including being invited to a birthday party!

Ella, year 5

Our year 8 pupils have also been setting good examples in terms of manners and integrity, as Ms Edmund, Head of Science has said:

Noah and Konstanze have been excellent role models for the younger pupils in our school. They have been polite and friendly to both staff and students. Throughout the day, they have worked with quiet determination and focus, completing their online learning. They have been keen to get involved with daily life at Wellington College Bangkok and have been fantastic examples of Wellingtonian pupils.

It has been a journey, both mentally and physically, but to have seen the familiar face of a sister school has reduced our uncertainty, reflected by Aiden:

I found out that in Thailand they also have a Wellington school and I enjoyed their lessons while also doing most of my e-learning.

Aiden, year 5

Our year 8s had a similar view.

It has been wonderful to use the gym and swimming pool along with having other teachers help me with my e-learning work here at Wellington College Bangkok.

Konstanze, year 8

Of course, everyone has experienced this unexpected and often challenging time differently. For us, we packed for a short holiday and found ourselves moving country and travelling between hotels and apartments over five times – looking for better space, taxi access or a faster internet connection – all with a suitcase growing at a faster rate than my daughter! However, one thing we did find was friendship and a place to call home.

Sometimes we say we may not like our routines, but routines can often help us focus and be productive throughout the day. During difficult and uncertain times, it’s always comforting to have friends and that’s exactly what we found at Wellington College Bangkok, reminding us that we are part of a wider Wellington family that extends beyond China.

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