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Meet our Alumni: Tiger Guo | Léman International School, Chengdu

Tiger Guo is a student at the world-leading Technical University of Munich and an alumnus of Léman International School, Chengdu (LIS). His story is part of a series of films celebrating alumni success from across the Nord Anglia Family. Hear Tiger bring his journey to life.

This film was created from a remotely recorded interview with Tiger where he discussed how his education at LIS, Chengdu inspired him to start a business and enabled him to realise his full academic potential. Read the blog below to discover the full story in Tiger’s own words, exploring what motivates him and the experiences that have shaped the person he is today.

 

An Introduction:

My name is Tiger and I'm from Shanghai, China. I went to Léman International School - Chengdu. I studied at Léman from 2016 to 2018 and I graduated valedictorian. I'm currently living in Munich and I study Management and Computer Science at the Technical University of Munich.

Learning at Léman:

Before I started at Léman, so before high school, I was always quite mediocre in class. I didn't put too much effort into studying, but during high school I began to work harder. With the support of my teachers and my school, I was able to develop academically and in the end my effort paid off and I and achieved 43 points on the IB exam, which made me the valedictorian of my year.

One special thing about Léman is the class sizes. The class sizes are very small so we were able to develop a personal relationship with our teachers. In several subjects the teachers helped me, even in their free time, to fully understand the concepts. That contributed to me scoring well in my IB exam.

One teacher I am especially thankful for is Mr. Gale who was our math teacher who sparked my interest in mathematics. He spent extra time explaining concepts that I didn't understand, and he was also a sort of mentor to me, often sharing interesting articles he’d read in the field of mathematics. He was very knowledgeable, and he shared that with his students. Supporting me personally using his free time really contributed to my academics. He also taught me to be persistent and not to get discouraged when you are not able to solve something right away - practice makes perfect. That's something I learned during my time at Léman.

I would say the most valuable skill I learned from my time back in Léman was to learn independently, preparing me for university where you don't receive that level of support anymore. The nature of the IB curriculum encourages students to figure out the learning strategies that suit them. For me, during my time in Léman, I was able to explore and gradually I discovered which learning methods worked for me. That’s really contributed to my academics here in Munich, because at the end of the day, it's still learning and applying the knowledge. That was my biggest gain.

The IB curriculum was really helpful in my personal development journey. The largest benefit and biggest growth I got from the IB diploma was the set of soft skills that not only allowed me to develop further academically, but also in other areas of life. For instance, there are several learner profiles that the IB curriculum emphasises.

The Léman community:

So Léman International School is a very tight knitted community as the school size isn't that big, everyone kind of knew each other. I think community is a group of people who support each other. It's a group of people that you can rely on. And during my time in high school, I built lifelong friendships with a lot of people. I know that they will be there for me and I will be there for them. To me, that is a community, people working together to help each other to grow and evolve.

The community was great with support and encouragement from teachers and fellow students. Also, the IB curriculum places emphasis on extracurricular activities. At Léman students are encouraged to pursue extracurricular activities and develop in different areas to help them become a more well-rounded person. That I believe is extremely vital for high school students, because it is the time when you develop knowledge of what is out there and you decide what you want to specialise in as you narrow your options when you enter college.

Working with friends:

King is my best friend from high school. He studies mathematics and computer science at UC Berkeley in California. He is one of the most talented mathematicians I have ever seen. He is extremely smart, diligent, hard working and very ambitious. I would say likeminded people attract each other what I saw in him was his intelligence and ambition. I knew he was someone who I liked to be around and gradually we spent more time together. He was in the year above me, so he's also a bit ahead of me academically and his curiosity means he's always learning about different things beyond the school curriculum.

Our first project together was actually a non-profit, charity project. We were raising money to buy winter blankets for kids in poverty in Wen'an, China. We did a lot of fundraising. Initially we thought about buying things in bulk, selling them on the and then donating the profits. But we realised this was too inefficient and we weren’t collecting enough money. We changed our strategy and designed a social media campaign. With the support of the Léman community, our friends and families, we were able to raise a significant amount of money to buy the winter blankets.

We realised that even though we are making an impact on our community, the non-profit project was not sustainable. there were several other people involved in the project and it's hard to keep people motivated to keep investing their time into this cause. We thought the most sustainable way of having an impact on the society was to build a business. Together we analysed what problems there are in the society we were living in and also our strengths and weaknesses. That led us to start our business.

Founding a business:

The name of our business is called EIIP education and we founded the business back in 2016 when we were in 10th grade. It was during my time in Léman I discovered my passion for building businesses.

With EEIP we design and deliver courses to middle and high school students that revolves around three questions. Why should they learn? What should they learn? And how should they learn? The issue we tried to tackle in our business is that we realised a lot of students under the Chinese education system are extrinsically motivated, which means they work very well under external supervision but sometimes lack the intrinsic motivation to go deeper into what they're studying and based on our research, we've concluded that this is partially due to a lack of direction.

We’d studied in public Chinese schools, in elementary or middle school, where we experienced the limitations of the Chinese system being very academically oriented. You don’t get a lot of time to invest into other activities apart from improving the grades. You see a lot of Chinese students visiting math, English or science courses in their weekends - on weekdays they’re at school and they have a lot of homework to do, and on the weekends have to visit all these courses. They're developing a lot in the academic field, gaining a lot of knowledge, however, we feel like they’re lagging behind in terms of soft skills which are also crucial for one's development. They’re always focussed on exams which leaves them very little time to think about what they want to do later, who they want to become. That's exactly what we try to encourage our students to do and think about in our courses.

On a more abstract level our mission as a business is to enable our students to become members of the society who are willing and have the capabilities to contribute to the society they're living in. We believe the current education system in China has placed too much emphasis on academics, which is hindering some of the developments in other areas and that's what we try to resolve.

The IB diploma was also a source of inspiration for the business because we realised we could grow a lot in all these dimensions - not only academics, but also communication, presentation, research and other soft skills. We felt like this was beneficial for us and that's what's missing in the Chinese system.

That’s what motivated us to found our business. We combine our expertise to develop marketing and teach personal development courses that help these Chinese students to improve their learning efficiency, find the motivations behind learning, and train their critical and abstract thinking skills. The EIIP team are university students studying in top universities all across the world. We combine that international expertise into our courses and deliver the best courses for the Chinese middle and high school students.

When we started off, we didn't really have a lot of experience in teaching. We knew what we wanted to do but we lacked the experience. The first people that we went to for help were our teachers from the LIS Chengdu. My biology teacher and economics teacher supplied me with a lot of teaching materials and mentored us on how to deliver, how to design the course, design a lesson and lay out a lesson plan. That's one of the largest supports we received from the Léman community.

When we started, it was quite difficult to find customers because we didn't have the experience. We were just a few high school students with no track records, so why are people willing to pay for it? Our first paying customers were students from the Léman community because we knew each other. They knew us personally and they trusted us. That really helped us to get our project off the ground.

I have gradually discovered how interesting and exciting it is to work on a project and to have an impact on the community. The most exciting aspect is to turn an idea into reality. When you're doing that, it involves a lot of resources. You need to invest time, effort, money, sometimes even more than that. We wouldn't have started this on our own and we received a lot of support from our family, our friends and the entire Léman community. Because of all the support, we could experiment with our ideas and eventually get this business going.

Now we have some momentum we've been operating for four years and we're teaching around 50 students every year. Through this entire experience I have realised what it's like to be an entrepreneur - something I want to pursue in the long run. On one hand, I am creating a real impact on a community. while also growing massively from the process so there's both an internal and an external motivation to do this.

University life and internships:

I started university back in 2018, directly after high school, and I will be graduating in 2022. I'm currently studying management and computer science at the Technical University of Munich and am really enjoying my studies. This is a top-ranking university in Germany and my degree combines, business administration with computer science. The idea behind this discipline is that you have expertise from both fields and so you can speak the language of business, as well as understand what the engineers are thinking. In university, I’m applying the same learning methods and my studies that I developed at LIS Chengdu. This helped me to yield great results. In my university year of over 500 students and I'm currently ranked third in my year in terms of grades. This helped me to win The German National Scholarship, which provides me financial support and covers almost all of my living expenses. At university, I have also had a chance to become a tutor. I was able to also share with other students how I studied and I'm always passionate about sharing my experiences.

I'm not just focused on coursework and my GPA, because I'm able to study efficiently, it saves up a lot of time for me to pursue extracurricular activities, which I believe are also helping me to grow massively as a person. I’ve been able to do internships in parallel to my studies. For example, I completed an internship in the consulting department of Accenture in my first year. We advised one of the largest automobile companies in Germany. By working on his project, that really helped me to put a lot of theories from college into practice. It expanded my horizons and also taught me how to interact with people, how to manage client relationships, how to communicate. I was also able to complete an internship at investment bank Deutsche Bank in my second year. That gave me a glance into the world of finance, which was also exciting because I was always excited about economics, the financial market and the capital market.

These experiences help me to see a larger world. If you only focus because on the academic side, then what you see is very narrow and you can’t apply the theories you learn, but if you really go out there and you're active in doing stuff, then you can apply these theories and make them yours.

Reflections:

A global perspective is my main takeaway from university and my time at Léman International School. Also, the experience of setting up a business taught me to be proactive and explore, to look outside of the coursework and see different options that some other students may be neglecting.

I learned how to study properly during my time in Léman and this really helped me to reduce the stress of college. Léman helped shape my development in many ways including my personality. During my time in Léman, I built very good relationships with the people around me, not only with my fellow students, but also with teachers, and this made me more confident. It shaped me into a more likable person because I was part of a tight-knit community where everyone supported each other.

I enjoyed my time in Léman. I think the more important part is it's really helped me develop the skills and the mindsets that I need to excel in the current phase of my life and beyond. Through the different activities at Léman, especially by going through the IB curriculum, we face a lot of challenges. The IB is a very challenging programme, not just because of the academics but also because the candidates are required to complete most different activities.

On one hand you must engage socially and on the other hand, you have to write research papers, essays, sometimes at a university level. I would say these skills really helped to prepare me for college. The most important skill that I developed was my learning skills.

At college, you are suddenly inundated with large amount of coursework and I go to a public college meaning I do not receive much personal assistance from the professors and have to do everything autonomously. A lot of my friends are struggling with that because they're not used to this type of learning. Luckily, I was because of my time at Léman - I received a lot of guidance and mentoring from my teachers but they also encouraged me to learn on my own. To develop this self-efficacy and study on your own is very difficult if you start from scratch, but at Léman, the teachers gradually supported me in this process.

I’ve been able to take advantage of every opportunity because I’ve developed the skill of learning efficiently. I would definitely say Léman prepared me very well for my current pursuits. Not only, academically, but also professionally in terms of relationships. I think during my time in Léman, I developed into a more well-rounded person and that was a very firm foundation for me to develop in college.

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