Dulwich Diaries: Meet the new Chairperson of Friends of Dulwich

Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi is a vibrant community drawing upon diverse experiences, cultures, and perspectives from around the globe. Guided by our College Values – Aim High and Work Hard. Be Kind and Respectful. Make a Difference – our community is committed to the key pillar of our vision: Students Come First. In this ‘Dulwich Diaries’ series of articles we meet members of the community, share their stories and understand the unique perspectives they bring to the rich tapestry of Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi.

In this article we meet Coco, our new Chairperson of Friends of Dulwich. She shares her story about finding Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi, and her aspirations for the future.


Q: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your family?

A: My name is Coco and I’m the new Chairperson of Friends of Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi. I have three boys. Two of them are studying in the College now; Gilbert in Year 5, and Quentin in Year 3. 


I met my husband in America. We studied and worked there for about eight years. When we moved back to China, we decided to live in Shanghai, since my husband wanted to settle here for his business. We joined Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi in 2018.


Personally, I love drawing and oil painting. After the kids are at school, I have a bit of free time to have a coffee, relax and do some painting. I also enjoy sharing this hobby with my boys. When they get home from school, they often give me feedback, and even grab the brush and join in. It’s a great way to have fun with my kids.


Q: What were you looking for in a school for your children?

A: When we first came back from America we had no idea about the type of education our children will we get in Shanghai. We were kind of blind. That’s how my struggle to find a school started. We did a lot of homework online, and we found there were both bilingual schools and international schools in Shanghai. Both of them sounded really cool and new to me, so we visited a couple of them. We made appointments with the admissions departments to visit the campuses, do some tours and try to find the one that matches our needs. 


My husband and I were both raised in a very traditional Chinese way, including our education, but we also have quite progressive views on education. When we were looking for a school for our children it had to match our philosophy. After we looked at the American schools, British schools, and even a Singaporean school, we realised the British style, and Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi, was the one that matched our philosophy the most.

When I talked to the admissions team, they introduced me to the curriculum, the teachers, the classrooms and things like the homework expectations. We felt that the school is outstanding and also very creative. We felt secure for our kids to be here at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi.

A truly holistic education is the part I want to give to my children that I never had as a student. The first year I studied in America, I struggled with my academics. I feel like the first two years of my university were kind of waste for me because I was always sitting there reading, taking notes and trying to memorise for the test. To a large extent, Chinese education is always focusing on the academic side only. We didn’t have any hobbies or extra curricular activities to allow us to explore new interests, make friends and build social skills. So, for my kids studying here in Dulwich, we have strong academic side and we also have many, many other choices. I really feel I have been supported by the school.


When we did the tour of the school, we entered the gym, we saw the amazing swimming pools and other facilities, I think that was the moment I knew this was the right school for my kids in terms of providing sporting and co-curricular opportunities. When I went into the classrooms, I met the teachers and they explained the curriculum, how they approach teaching and the general philosophy towards education. It made so much sense to me and that’s the moment I knew this was the school for my kids.


Q: What are your aspirations for your children?

A: As a Chinese parent, I really want my kids to speak Chinese and learn to read and write Chinese very well. So, the Mandarin programme in the College gave me another sense of security after I visited here and talked to the teachers. I can see the homework and test setting are improving each year. I can clearly compare the level in Year 5 and the level in Year 3 for my boys. They are making strong progress, step-by-step. 


Thinking about their future study paths, I am still waiting for their potential to show up later and they can make their own choices. They are sporty and active. Sometimes I’m trying to push them to read, but they say “I want to go swimming, I want to play tennis, I want to play chess….”. They have many other choices rather than just studying. They will either go to university in America or the United Kingdom, but it’s up to them. I am sure they will find their passion and follow it. For now, I want to give them as many opportunities as possible. That’s why I like the holistic education at Dulwich.


I don’t want my children to get sick of study. I want them to always be open minded and open to new thoughts and new concepts, so they can continuously study in the future. Even once they have graduated, I want them to have a love of life-long learning.


Q:Why did you choose to join the Friends of Dulwich Core Committee?

A: I wanted to join the Friends of Dulwich Core Committee at first, because I wanted to know more about the school so I could discuss it with my son. When Gilbert joined in Year 2, he was quite a nervous boy. He really took time to adjust to the new setting. Everytime I asked him a question about school, he was like “Um, I don’t know…”. So, initially joining the Friends of Dulwich Core Committee was a way to know more about the school and open up communication with my son. I believe that a strong partnership between the school and the parents is important for students wellbeing and happiness. Since being involved in the Friends of Dulwich I can see my son's wellbeing improving.


This year I decided to put my hand up to become the Chairperson of the Friends of Dulwich, because I want more parents to get involved in their children’s education. There are many different types of parents within our school community. They all have different hopes and dreams for their children. I personally found that getting involved in the school was a great way for me to understand my child’s education better. The more I pay attention, the more my kids gain and the more secure they feel. So I want to use this role to encourage more parents to get involved, and I want to support the other parents to do that by providing opportunities for involvement.


Also, as I have many friends within the community, I heard different kinds of suggestions and feedback while I was a Core Committee member. One of the school values is Make a Difference. I feel that being the Chairperson, this is my way to work with the school to make a positive difference and help the school continue to improve. It is important to say that the Friends of Dulwich is not a channel for sharing feedback. There are official channels for that and all parents have the right tools to know who to communicate with. Those are the most efficient ways to share feedback. But, the Friends of Dulwich can work together with the school on improvement programmes, and can be a channel for bringing the parent’s perspective to the table.


We have a lot of initiatives this year. I hope that COVID will settle down and parents will be able to go into campus, but regardless we have events both inside and outside the school where our parents can get involved. I’m very excited about the year ahead.